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.

“The Serial Impulse at Gemini G.E.L.”

Through January 31, 2016
Curated by Adam Greenhalgh

Since its founding in 1966, the Los Angeles print studio Gemini G.E.L. has enabled a vast and illustrious roster of artists to innovate their practices through interactions with master printmakers. On the eve of Gemini’s fiftieth anniversary, the National Gallery offers the unique opportunity to view seventeen series in their entirety—encompassing some 130 works made between 1967 and 2014—and will feature artists associated with the 1960s prints-and-multiples boom, such as Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg, and Claes Oldenburg alongside California locals John Baldessari, Ed Ruscha, Bruce Nauman, and Vija Celmins. With an impressive range of techniques and materials represented (lithograph, screen print, etching, drypoint, aquatint, mezzotint, and photogravure), this exhibition will argue for renewed scholarly attention to “multiple originals,” not as superfluous to an artist’s core practice but as a crucial mode of working through formal and technical problems—one with the potential for major breakthroughs.

Natilee Harren

“Marvelous Objects: Surrealist Sculpture from Paris to New York”

Through February 15, 2016
Curated by Valerie Fletcher

This comprehensive survey will include more than one hundred works of Surrealist sculpture by some twenty artists based throughout Europe and the US in addition to an unanticipated selection of Man Ray’s rayographs, shots of “La Poupée” by Hans Bellmer, and transgendering photographs by Claude Cahun. So extensive an overview necessarily includes automatic, biomorphic works such as Jean Arp’s Shirt Front and Fork, 1922, and Henry Moore’s Stringed Figure, No. 1, 1937, as well as parallel efforts by Noguchi and Calder. This biomorphism counters Surrealism’s equally marked strain of free association as revealed by Dalí’s Lobster Telephone, 1936, even as David Smith’s Saw Head and Chain Head, both 1933, illuminate the germ of an incubating Abstract Expressionism. Last, inviolate mutism is emblematic in Duchamp’s found objects. Small wonder that Surrealism’s iconoclastic and poetic sprawl retains its appeal.

Robert Pincus-Witten

Andrea Büttner

Through April 10, 2016
Curated by Fionn Mead

Weakness is Andrea Büttner’s strength. For a decade, the Stuttgart-born artist has coaxed often-minor media—inexpert video, casual photography, glass painting, wallpaper, even low-slung planters of live moss—into speaking of humility, poverty, shame, and (the refusal of) judgment. Whether woodcut-printing the text piece I want to let the work fall down, 2005; inviting cloistered Carmelite nuns to film their homespun creative activity (Little Works, 2007); illustrating a 2014 edition of Kant’s Critique of Judgment with sublunary, seemingly chance-determined images that cause adjudication to misfire; or repeatedly confessing her artistic influences, Büttner skews from ego. The upshots, her first US solo exhibition will no doubt demonstrate, are numerous, from a catechization of art’s liaison with thrusting neoliberalism to a call for a reconsideration of belief—and its corollary, meekness—that feels quietly radical.

Martin Herbert

Christopher Knowles, Untitled, 2014, oil marker on canvas, 40 × 40".

“Christopher Knowles: In a Word”

Through December 27
Curated by Anthony Elms and Hilton Als

Christopher Knowles’s remarkably elastic practice—ranging freely across painting, sculpture, sound, performance, and poetry both spoken and concrete—has for more than four decades produced a jubilant array of lo-fi investigations into systems, especially into the operation and architecture of languages, linguistic and otherwise. A brilliantly eccentric detective, the Brooklyn-based artist has trained himself to find potentially significant patterns in the data stream of everyday life. Evoking Gertrude Stein, Frank O’Hara, and Daniel Johnston, his signature “typings”—which take the form of lists and reimagined pop-song lyrics, as well as bursts of anarchic wordplay—turn the typewriter into an instrument of fine conceptual and formal distinction. This comprehensive exhibition is accompanied by a catalogue featuring essays by the curators and art historian Lauren DiGiulio, as well as an autobiographical text by Knowles. Travels to the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston in 2017.

Jeffrey Kastner