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.

“Man Ray: Human Equations”

THE PHILLIPS COLLECTION
WASHINGTON, DC
Through May 10
Curated by Wendy Grossman, Adina Kamien-Kazhdan, Edouard Sebline, and Andrew Strauss

In 1936, Man Ray photographed plaster, wood, string, and papier-mâché models of mathematical formulae housed in the Institut Henri Poincaré in Paris, creating pictures that André Breton thought of as representing the crisis of the object. Living in Hollywood during the 1940s, Man Ray used these hermetic images for a group of bluntly illusionistic paintings he called “Shakespearean Equations,” titling them after Shakespeare characters. The triangles and T squares of Giorgio de Chirico’s metaphysical paintings are their forebears, and they signal a revived introspection spurred by the Second World War. Co-organized with the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, this show will present more than one hundred related pieces; a selection of the canvases will appear alongside their photographic sources and a number of the original mathematical models. Travels to the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen, June 11–Sept. 20; Israel Museum, Jerusalem, Oct. 20, 2015–Jan. 23, 2016.

Robert Pincus-Witten

“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

“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

Sadamasa Motonaga, Work, 1962, oil and synthetic resin on canvas, 67 3/4 × 90 1/4". From “Between Action and the Unknown: The Art of Kazuo Shiraga and Sadamasa Motonaga.” © Estate of Motonaga Sadamasa.

“Between Action and the Unknown: The Art of Kazuo Shiraga and Sadamasa Motonaga”

DALLAS MUSEUM OF ART
DALLAS
Through July 19
Curated by Gabriel Ritter and Koichi Kawasaki

The past few years have seen the Gutai group catapult to the forefront of the ever-expanding history of postwar art. But the specificities of its members’ respective practices remain undetermined, a situation this two-person exhibition, co-organized with the Japan Foundation, Tokyo, seeks to remedy in part. For both Shiraga and Motonaga, the element of chance was central. Best known for painting exuberantly with his feet, Shiraga regarded abstraction as a form of live theater. Motonaga poured vividly hued paints, which pooled or ran in currents across his canvases, thus capturing the unpredictability of fluids left to their own devices. Including nearly sixty paintings, drawings, photographs, films, sculptures, archival materials, and re-creations of installations that cover the full extent of the artists’ careers from the 1950s to the 2000s, the exhibition and accompanying catalogue seek to illuminate how both artists so gleefully crossed the boundaries of painting, performance, and documentation—all in the name of abstraction.

Joan Kee

Calder, Sandback, and Tuttle

THE PULITZER FOUNDATION FOR THE ARTS
SAINT LOUIS
Through September 12
Curated by Carmen Giménez, Tamara H. Schenkenberg and Emily Rauh Pulitzer

Tadao Ando’s 2001 building for the Pulitzer Arts Foundation is both minimal and restrained, but it’s not quite a white cube. It is light gray, the color of the architect’s signature cast-in-place concrete, and its complex interiors, marked by carefully layered spaces and subtle plays of height and volume, belie the boxlike simplicity of its silhouette. As the latest spate of high-profile institutional projects reveals that museum architecture is still defined by the familiar polarity between overwhelming excess and mind-numbing neutrality, Ando’s recently completed renovation of the Pulitzer (which has transformed the building’s lower administrative and storage level into new galleries) could not be more timely. The inaugural, multilevel installation of solo exhibitions of the work of Alexander Calder, Fred Sandback, and Richard Tuttle serves to emphasize visual and spatial interconnection, demonstrating that a museum can actively shape the viewer’s experience without overpowering the art or simply fading into the background.

Julian Rose

Wanda Pimentel, Untitled—Série Envolvimento, 1967, acrylic on canvas, 45 3/4 × 35 1/8". From “International
Pop.”

“International Pop”

WALKER ART CENTER
MINNEAPOLIS
Through September 6
Curated by Darsie Alexander with Bartholomew Ryan

If a select few of Pop art’s past and present stars (think Sigmar Polke and Jeff Koons) recently took New York, the Walker Art Center’s upcoming exhibition—featuring some 140 works produced over the course of three decades on four continents—aims to widen our Pop horizons far beyond the usual names and locales. Alongside such household brands as Warhol and Rauschenberg, Polke will make an appearance, but so too will his (less recognized) fellow Capitalist Realists Konrad Lueg and Manfred Kuttner, here joined by Argentineans Marta Minujín and Edgardo Giménez, Brazilian Wanda Pimentel, and the Japanese-born Ushio Shinohara and Yayoi Kusama, among many others. Incorporating an extensive film and video program and showcasing works across media, the Walker exhibition and accompanying catalogue promise an unmatched opportunity to assess Pop’s global reach, and (it’s Pop, after all) to see some standout works by a few undisputed stars in the process. Travels to the Dallas Museum of Art, Oct. 11–Jan. 17, 2016; Philadelphia Museum of Art, Feb. 18–May 15, 2016.

Graham Bader