U.S. Museum Exhibitions

The following guide to museum shows currently on view is compiled from Artforum’s three-times-yearly exhibition preview. Subscribe now to begin a year of Artforum—the world’s leading magazine of contemporary art. You’ll get all three big preview issues, featuring Artforum’s comprehensive advance roundups of the shows to see each season around the globe.

“David Lynch: The Unified Field”

Through January 11 2015
Curated by Robert Cozzolino

The world recognizes David Lynch as an American auteur, but his clairvoyant cinema emerged from—and was created alongside—an equally strange and singular art practice. This ambitious exhibition, Lynch’s first major museum show, comprises more than ninety paintings, photographs, and drawings from 1965 through the present, including previously unseen early work. Among the highlights are Six Men Getting Sick, a multimedia installation made Lynch made in 1967 while he was a student at PAFA, presented now for the first time since its creation, as well as a selection of short films the director shot in the late ’60s in Philadelphia, a city he once called “the biggest inspiration of my life.” Lynch’s artistic output resonates with his Hollywood films, archly evoking the mysterious in the familiar, the body in unlikely configuration with “organic phenomena,” and “the home” as a site triggering flashbacks and nightmares.

Thomas Devaney

Margarita Cabrera, Vocho (Yellow), 2004, vinyl, batting, thread, car parts, 5 × 6 × 13'. From “Pop Departures.”

“Pop Departures”

Through January 11 2015
Curated by Catharina Manchanda

Mapping the impact of Pop art over the past fifty years, the Seattle Art Museum zeros in on two key moments in which artists have updated Pop proper’s concerns: the 1980s and the past decade. The exhibition (offering some hundred works dating from 1961 to 2014) will cover familiar territory at the outset, charting distances between landmarks such as Andy Warhol and Jeff Koons, but it will quickly head into more adventurous terrain. Vocho (Yellow), 2004, Margarita Cabrera’s stitched rendition of the once-ubiquitous Volkswagen Bug—for which the artist refashioned in vinyl those parts made in Mexico—weds the logic of Claes Oldenburg’s soft sculptures to global politics, while works by Josephine Meckseper and Rachel Harrison explore the parataxis of product display and Amie Siegel’s montage of YouTube Sinatra wannabes singing “My Way” (My Way 2, 2009)pursues the echo of Warhol’s celebrity culture to its final, flattest frontier.

Sarah K. Rich

“Storyteller: The Photographs of Duane Michals”

Through February 16 2015
Curated by Linda Benedict-Jones

Maybe because Duane Michals never studied photography, he’s always felt free to take liberties with the medium, bending it to his will and his whim by staging scenes, building narrative sequences, creating multiple exposures, and writing and painting on and around his images. His pictures—dealing with death, dreams, love, beauty, friendship, and the imagination—are unfashionably sincere, subversively playful, and hard to resist. Curator Linda Benedict-Jones, drawing from the Carnegie’s broad holdings of Michals’s output, presents more than 160 pieces made between 1954 and 2013, including examples of Michals’s vivacious editorial work for Vogue and Esquire. The catalogue includes essays by Max Kozloff, Allen Ellenzweig, William Jenkins, and others, while an eclectic group of paintings, drawings, photographs, and prints, (Goya to Kertész) from Michals’s own collection, displayed alongside the show, will provide another sort of insight into the artist’s way of seeing. Travels to the Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA, Mar. 2015.

Vince Aletti

“Carl Andre: Sculpture as Place, 1958–2010”

Through March 2 2015
Curated by Yasmil Raymond and Philippe Vergne

In Carl Andre’s own telling, his sculpture has occupied three distinct phases: “sculpture as form” (the carved beams of 1958–59), “sculpture as structure” (the stacked constructions of 1959–65), and “sculpture as place” (the horizontal arrangements of bricks and metal plates of 1966–2010 for which he is best known). This long-awaited retrospective, the artist’s first in the US in more than thirty years, aims to trace the contours of these developments with some fifty works produced between the late 1950s and early 2000s. Yet the show promises much more: Accompanied by a scholarly catalogue, it will feature roughly 165 of Andre’s concrete poems, as well as a selection of his little-known “Dada Forgeries”—“minor” pun-infused readymades largely inspired by Duchamp, an artist Andre once declared himself against.

Travels to Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid, May 7–Oct. 12, 2015; Hamburger Bahnhof—Museum für Gegenwart, Berlin, May 7–Sept. 25, 2016; Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, Oct. 20, 2016–Feb. 12, 2017.

James Meyer

“Covert Operations: Investigating the Known Unknowns”

Through January 11 2015
Curated by Claire C. Carter

The Donald Rumsfeld Scale of epistemology, established post-9/11, famously stretches from “known knowns” to “unknown unknowns.” “Known unknowns,” however, occupy the median zone of well-founded anxiety brought on not by being “in possession of all the facts”—the condition of paranoia as wryly defined by William S. Burroughs—but by having enough of them to extrapolate that grim details have yet to emerge about, say, “black ops,” human-rights violations, illegal extradition, and human trafficking. Here, thirteen artists and collaboratives (including Taryn Simon, Harun Farocki, Kerry Tribe, Jenny Holzer, and Trevor Paglen), exploiting the Freedom of Information Act, government archives, and “insider connections,” respond to the US government’s cloud of unknowing via strategies ranging from evidence-driven truth-telling to critical modes that mirror the state’s artfully constructed ambiguities. Travels to the San Jose Museum of Art, CA, Sept.–Dec. 2015.

Martin Herbert

“Picasso/Dalí, Dalí/Picasso”

Through February 16 2015
Curated by William Jeffett and Juan José Lahuerta

A dual retrospective comparing the paintings, drawings, and sculptures of Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dalí—wildly disparate artists who incarnate Spain’s Loyalist/Falangist divide—is a counterintuitive but brilliant notion. The young and foppish Dalí met Picasso in 1926 (a crystallizing moment for Surrealism), when the latter’s classicism and aestheticized Cubism were all that Dalí’s sublime handpainted dream photographs and “paranoiac-Critical” method sought to replace. With the conclusion of the Spanish Civil War in 1939, Picasso remained in Paris, committed to an existential version of Surrealism, while Dalí took off for a long, immensely successful stay in the US. This exhibition, co-organized with the Museu Picasso in Barcelona, brings together some seventy-five works from numerous museums and private collections (and boasts a catalogue with essays by the curators and by independent scholar Charles Miller). It may well bind wounds that once seemed impervious to healing. Blockbuster ahead! Travels to the Museu Picasso, Barcelona, Mar. 19–June 28, 2015.

Robert Pincus-Witten