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.

“Mark Bradford: Receive Calls on Your Cellphone from Jail”

CONTEMPORARY ART MUSEUM ST. LOUIS
SAINT LOUIS
Through August 14
Curated by Jeffrey Uslip

The museum debut of Mark Bradford’s Receive Calls on Your Cellphone from Jail, 2013, an expansive installation of mixed-media paintings featuring text that evokes the roadside signage advertising bail bonds and the like, reflects on the rule that prohibits inmates from placing collect calls to cell phones. Originally mounted in 2013 as a set of 150 panels that covered all four walls of a nine-by-nine-by-nine-foot gallery at White Cube, London, the work will be reconceived for this occasion as a grid of thirty-eight panels on one wall, arranged in two horizontal rows in a sixty-foot span. This show thus extends the artist’s trenchant critiques of the built environment into the bleak landscape of the American prison complex. Representing less the jail cell’s infrastructure than its indignities—particularly that which circumscribes the daily experience of the incarcerated—it also, somewhat more than implicitly, critiques a system in which blacks are jailed at six times the rate of whites.

Suzanne Hudson

Louise Lawler, Portrait, 1982, silver-dye bleach print, 19 5/8 × 19 5/8". From “Ordinary Pictures.”

“Ordinary Pictures”

WALKER ART CENTER
MINNEAPOLIS
Through October 9
Curated by Eric Crosby

“Ordinary Pictures” will investigate the pervasive relevance and versatility of stock photography—images often constructed as tropes and produced expressly for commercial use—through the postwar Conceptual art practices that appropriated and repurposed it as a means of cultural critique. Included are some thirty artists, many of whom do not (or did not) consider themselves “photographers” in the formal sense of the term, and whose backgrounds, interests, and outputs vary dramatically: Works by Ed Ruscha, Sturtevant, and Andy Warhol will mingle with those by Robert Heinecken, Sarah Charlesworth, Steve McQueen, Larry Sultan, and Wolfgang Tillmans, among others. Supplemented by a catalogue featuring essays by Eva Respini, Thomas Beard, and Lane Relyea, the show promises an in-depth rumination on the inverse function of art itself—and on every work’s potential to perform as both concept and cliché.

Isabel Flower

Lee Kit, His right hand is holding something, 2015, acrylic, emulsion paint, ink-jet print, and pencil on cardboard, towel, 23 5/8 × 48".

“Lee Kit: Hold Your Breath, Dance Slowly”

WALKER ART CENTER
MINNEAPOLIS
Through October 9
Curated by Misa Jeffereis and Siri Engberg

Doing humble things to humble objects is at the heart of Hong Kong–born, Taiwan-based Lee Kit’s practice. Lee’s first solo museum exhibition in the United States surveys a decade of the artist’s understated investigations of the expanding contiguity between art and everyday life. Spanning a diverse range of media, from modest configurations of handpainted cardboard supports to a thirteen-channel video installation of stacked monitors depicting common household products (I can’t help falling in love, 2012), the show demonstrates Lee’s foregrounding of the nondescript as central to what makes lived experience so psychologically specific. Especially compelling is the artist’s engagement with scale, both in terms of the relationships created through the juxtaposition of differently sized objects and the frameworks of spatial organization to which he (and we) are persistently, and often irrevocably, subject.

Joan Kee

Louise Fishman, Untitled, 2011, acrylic on metal, 8 1/2 × 7 1/4 × 1 1/4".

“Louise Fishman: Paper Louise Tiny Fishman Rock”

ICA - INSTITUTE OF CONTEMPORARY ART, PHILADELPHIA
PHILADELPHIA
Through August 14
Curated by Ingrid Schaffner

In tandem with an independently organized retrospective at the Neuberger Museum of Art, Purchase College, State University of New York, this hometown survey of Fishman’s fifty-year-long career features the painter’s esteemed large-scale gestural abstractions alongside a selection of intimate studio investigations—an assortment of miniature paintings, sketchbooks, and small sculptures—that share the same physicality and unapologetic emotional punch as her bigger, iconic works. The exhibition’s hinge is Self-Portrait, Fishman’s 1960 self-portrait as a boxer, one of the artist’s engagements with feminism and queer identity. The show promises to reveal the rigorous material research underlying Fishman’s celebrated career, one dedicated to reclaiming the language of Abstract Expressionism, long dominated by men. The accompanying catalogue features contributions by Helaine Posner, Carrie Moyer, and Nancy Princenthal and an interview with the artist by Ingrid Schaffner, curator of the Fifty-Seventh Carnegie International.

Michelle Grabner

Walker Evans, Shoppers, Randolph Street, Chicago, 1946, gelatin silver print, 15 1/2 × 12 1/4". © Walker Evans Archive, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

“Walker Evans: Depth of Field”

HIGH MUSEUM OF ART
ATLANTA
Through September 11
Curated by John T. Hill, Heinz Liesbrock, and Brett Abbott

While America fractures under the pressure of the latest presidential election, the High Museum is revisiting a photographic practice that subjected the nation to a brilliantly sensitive aesthetic conscience. Featuring more than 120 black-and-white and color prints, spanning from the 1920s to the 1970s, the show and attendant catalogue will give viewers a chance to revisit the dogged intelligence of a lifetime’s hard poetry. Evans had few peers in his capacity to disclose social relations through images and to coax the slow violence of American life into visibility. Working with Lincoln Kirstein, he learned to amplify the power of this disclosure through sequence. This is hard stuff for a museum to handle, but it remains vital to try. Travels to the Vancouver Art Gallery, Oct. 29, 2016–Jan. 22, 2017.

Robin Kelsey

“Everywhen: The Eternal Present in Indigenous Art from Australia”

HARVARD ART MUSEUMS
CAMBRIDGE, MASSACHUSETTS
Through September 18
Curated by Stephen Gilchrist

"Dreamings: The Art of Aboriginal Australia,” held at the Asia Society in New York in 1988, was a key exhibition in demonstrating that Aboriginal art was not “primitive” but modern. This show goes one step further in arguing that Aboriginal art is not modern but contemporary. “Everywhen,” a neologism adopted from anthropologist William Stanner, is a way of taking the Dreaming—the cultural and spiritual worldview of Aborigines—out of the past and placing it in the present. The show includes Pintupi artists such as Mick Namarari Tjapaltjarri, the Anmatyerr Emily Kame Kngwarreye, Sydney photographer Christian Thompson, Brisbane Conceptualist Vernon Ah Kee, and other native Australians. If New Yorker David Smith once made a work called Australia in response to Aboriginal art, and Texan Forrest Bess actually wanted to become an Aborigine, what Gilchrist seeks to prove is that Aboriginal art is not just “everywhen” but belongs everywhere.

Rex Butler