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.

Kris Martin, T.Y.F.F.S.H., 2011, hot-air balloon, basket, metal ring, fans. Installation view, Marc Foxx Gallery, Los Angeles. Photo: Robert Wedemeyer. From “S, M, L, XL.”

“S, M, L, XL”

MUSEUM OF CONTEMPORARY ART | CHICAGO
CHICAGO
Through October 4
Curated by Michael Darling

Taking its title from Rem Koolhaas’s 1995 manifesto, “S, M, L, XL” is an examination of sculpture and scale. Scale, the relative size of one thing to another, became a preoccupation of aesthetic theory with the publication, in these pages, of Robert Morris’s “Notes on Sculpture” in 1966. Fittingly, two of the four works in the show are by Morris: Portal, 1964, a post-and-lintel structure so narrow we can barely squeeze through it, and Passageway, 1961, an increasingly constricting curved corridor that funnels us to a dead end. And while Franz West’s Blue, 2006, adds a welcoming “relational” element (a seat) to Morris’s spiral, Kris Martin’s installation T.Y.F.F.S.H., 2011, an open balloon animated by fans, allows viewers to experience the immersive scale so emblematic of today’s “site-specific” sculpture.

James Meyer

“Light, Paper, Process: Reinventing Photography”

J. PAUL GETTY MUSEUM
LOS ANGELES
Through September 6
Curated by Virginia Heckert

Exactly what photography is at this point is an open question. Proliferating digital technologies and omnipresent smartphone cameras have made photographic imaging ridiculously easy, costless, and ubiquitous—a flow of experiences rather than staccato decisive moments. Reflecting on the fundamental nature of the medium, a host of contemporary artist-photographers have been experimenting with the medium’s obsolescing materials and practices. Some expose outdated papers, some scratch or waterlog their prints, and some reject the photographic apparatus wholesale—generating controversy while challenging notions of what defines a photograph. This timely exhibition and catalogue showcase seven key artists in this surging debate: Matthew Brandt, Marco Breuer, John Chiara, Chris McCaw, Lisa Oppenheim, Alison Rossiter, and James Welling, alongside process-focused predecessors including Man Ray, and Henry Holmes Smith. Whether the present generation is reinventing photography or merely picking over its still-warm corpse remains to be seen.

Brian Wallis

“Josephine Pryde: Lapses in Thinking by the Person I Am”

CCA WATTIS INSTITUTE FOR CONTEMPORARY ART
SAN FRANCISCO
Through August 1
Curated by Jamie Stevens

In her photographs, Josephine Pryde frequently stages determinedly pitched, inscrutable parodies of selfhood. For her first show in a US institution, she presents a series of roughly twenty newly created images of women’s hands in close encounters with their own bodies, as well as with touch screens and touch lamps. Held in suspended states of discovery, these hands are living it up, footloose and perhaps in the midst of one of the “lapses” of self-awareness suggested by the show’s title. Pryde manages subtle affectations in each scene, lampooning her caricatured subjects on an almost subliminal level. Note to Bay Area readers: If you get weary padding the hoof from photo to photo, you can hop a ride aboard Pryde’s miniature Union Pacific boxcar train, an interactive (yep . . .) sculpture barreling its way through the Wattis. Travels to the Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia, Sept. 16–Dec. 27.

Jay Sanders

“Mark Rothko’s Harvard Murals”

HARVARD ART MUSEUMS
CAMBRIDGE, MA
Through July 26
Curated by Mary Schneider Enriquez

Art, science, collaborative innovation, the risks and responsibilities of patronage—you couldn’t invent subject matter more fitting for the inaugural exhibition of the Harvard Art Museums this fall following Renzo Piano’s extensive renovation. “Mark Rothko’s Harvard Murals” will present a set of paintings commissioned by the university for its Holyoke Center penthouse dining room. In 1962, Rothko made six abstract panels, each almost nine feet high; five were hung. Reflecting his interest in creating a space rather than its decoration, he also consulted on the walls and fiberglass curtains for the room’s ample windows. Despite these measures, the paintings quickly deteriorated and by 1979 were banished to dark storage. All six will reemerge, alongside thirty-two studies from 1961–62 and with the benefit of some conservation magic: The Harvard Art Museums and MIT Media Lab developed software that creates “compensation images” for projection over the canvases to virtually (and fleetingly) restore their original color. Light, once a vandal of the works, now plays the hero.

Prudence Peiffer

“Anicka Yi: 6,070,430K of Digital Spit”

MIT LIST VISUAL ARTS CENTER
CAMBRIDGE, MA
Through July 26
Curated by Alise Upitis

Anicka Yi can’t forget the “taste” of El Bulli recipe 1647, mentholated and matcha-infused water vapor sealed below a layer of ice. Like Ferran Adri before her, Yi is drawn to enmeshing the scientific and the sensual. This vital aspect of her practice has been enriched by her experience last year as an MIT visiting artist, which granted Yi long-desired access to scientific expertise. This exhibition—a multifaceted installation—promises to be her most consuming outing yet. In the spirit of her molecular gastronomic madeleine, diffused menthol vapor and a curious sound track will greet visitors as they happen on a petri-dish pond inhabited by Yi’s newly enhanced arsenal of the material and the bacterial. The attendant monograph, with contributions by Upitis, Johanna Burton, and Caroline Jones, will savor Yi’s exploration of the notion of taste as contagion.

Beau Rutland

“Marilyn Minter: Pretty/Dirty”

CONTEMPORARY ARTS MUSEUM HOUSTON
HOUSTON
Through August 2
Curated by Bill Arning and Elissa Auther

True to the maxim “Everything’s bigger in Texas,” this exhibition will be the most extensive survey to date by New York fixture Marilyn Minter. Gathering more than two dozen paintings made since 1976, the show delves deep into Minter’s oeuvre, past her iconic recent canvases of dolled-up orifices to more abstracted appropriations of vintage photographs and enamels of eroticized food. In the decade since Minter’s work was beamed into pop consciousness via prominent placement in the trashy, coyly satiric soap Gossip Girl, she has continued to ply her seductive, glossy imagery. Three videos and the artist’s earliest photographic series—featuring Minter’s pill-plagued but still-glamorous mother before a mirror—lend context and gravitas to the stuff she’s made so wretchedly gorgeous. Travels to MCA Denver, Sept. 18, 2015–Jan. 31, 2016; Orange County Museum of Art, Newport Beach, CA, Apr. 1–July 10, 2016; Brooklyn Museum, 2016.

Kevin McGarry