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.

Whitfield Lovell

THE PHILLIPS COLLECTION
WASHINGTON, DC
October 8 - January 8, 2017
Curated by Elsa Smithgall

The black men and women in Whitfield Lovell’s ongoing series “Kin”—each rendered on cream paper in velvety monochrome conté crayon and paired with gnomic found objects—seem not so much rescued from anonymity as discharged from a bureaucratic purgatory. For nearly twenty years, Lovell has worked from discarded early-twentieth-century ID cards, passports, and mug shots—from any black-and-white portrait at risk of haphazard defacement by stapler, really—and his figurative kin are frozen in time, at sites of fraught systemic and organizational intake. The resulting objects are at turns stately, heartbreaking, opaque, and lovingly intimate. At the Phillips, twenty-odd pieces from “Kin,” 2008–, will be paired with some dozen of the artist’s signature large-scale tableaux in an exhibition that crosses scales and media as well as source materials: The aspirational poses of larger works based on vintage studio photography sit opposite the visual spectrum from the “Kin” series’ institutional points of departure. A major monograph with contributions by the curator and others will accompany the show. After all, what’s a family album without something to have and to hold?

Gary Dauphin

Charles Ross, Solar Burn 1/29/77, 1977, paint on burned wood, 14 1/4 × 16 1/4". From “Los Angeles to New York: Dwan Gallery, 1959–1971.”

“Los Angeles to New York: Dwan Gallery, 1959–1971”

NATIONAL GALLERY OF ART, WASHINGTON, DC
WASHINGTON, DC
September 30 - January 29, 2017
Curated by James Meyer

Virginia Dwan is the stuff of legends: prescient dealer, visionary collector, generous benefactor. She’s Leo Castelli, Count Panza, and Andrew Mellon rolled into one. Featuring some hundred paintings, sculptures, works on paper, and photographs, the National Gallery of Art will highlight the art that Dwan, still a tall beauty at eighty-five, has donated or promised to the museum. Other institutions, including MoMA, LACMA, and the Pompidou, are lending additional works shown at her galleries in LA and New York. From 1959 to 1967, her SoCal space hosted American abstractionists (Guston, Reinhardt), Nouveau Réalistes (Klein, Tinguely), and Pop artists (Oldenburg, Warhol, Rosenquist). Besides championing Minimalists (Andre, Flavin, LeWitt) and Conceptualists (Bochner, Weiner) on Fifty-Seventh Street from 1966 to 1971, the dealer-cum-philanthropist financed Heizer’s Double Negative, 1969–70; Smithson’s Spiral Jetty, 1970; and the first version of De Maria’s Lightning Field, 1977. This exhibition and its catalogue, with an essay by Meyer, will showcase Dwan’s intrepid vision. Travels to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Mar. 19–Sept. 10, 2017.

Phyllis Tuchman

Agnieszka Polska, I Am the Mouth II, 2014, HD video, color, sound, 5 minutes 45 seconds. From “Suspended Animation.”

“Suspended Animation”

HIRSHHORN MUSEUM AND SCULPTURE GARDEN
WASHINGTON, DC
Through March 12, 2017
Curated by Gianni Jetzer

Animated film has come a long way since J. Stuart Blackton’s pioneering Humorous Phases of Funny Faces (1906), with its crude sequences of goofy chalkboard drawings. An evolving palette of digital animation technologies—motion capture, ever more detailed 3-D visualization—shapes not only mainstream culture but, increasingly, the work of artists (and the oft-unsung technicians to whom they outsource their production). “Suspended Animation” brings together Ed Atkins, Antoine Catala, Ian Cheng, Josh Kline, Helen Marten, and Agnieszka Polska, an international hexad whose practices are differentiated enough to suggest not only computer animation’s pervasiveness but also its flexibility—witness Atkins’s emotive avatars adrift in an uncanny valley, Cheng’s simulations mutating in real time, Polska’s fluent digital-psychedelic effects, and Marten’s loquacious skeuomorphic crossbreeds. In spite of these individual approaches, expect a shared responsiveness to the digital age’s manifold crises, from the specter of surveillance to the collapse of distinctions between virtual and physical realities.

Martin Herbert

Sanford Biggers, Laocoön (detail), 2015, vinyl, electric air pump, 72 × 60 × 120". Installation view, David Castillo Gallery, Miami, 2015–16.

“Sanford Biggers: Subjective Cosmology”

MUSEUM OF CONTEMPORARY ART DETROIT (MOCAD)
DETROIT
Through January 1, 2017
Curated by Elysia Borowy-Reeder

Over the past two decades, Sanford Biggers has woven references to African American culture, Eastern spirituality, and global music and dance traditions into patchwork myths and rituals. This exhibition promises to broaden our perspective on the artist’s ambitious speculative histories, with a presentation of recent and newly made site-specific works, including Shatter, 2016, which makes its debut here. Following Shuffle, 2009, and Shake, 2011, Shatter is the final installment of Biggers’s multichannel video trilogy filmed at key points along the North Atlantic slave trade route that considers the undoing and reimagining of personal identity. Shatter’s three-screen installation will serve as a backdrop to an opening-night performance by Moon Medicin, Biggers’s Afrofuturist band. “Subjective Cosmology” will also feature the biggest iteration to date of Laocoön, 2015, a prostrate, semi-inflated, pulsating Fat Albert, the corpulent cartoon star of Bill Cosby’s animated series. A touchstone for the show, this work reflects on recent violence against African Americans as well as the loss of faith in public and authority figures, from Cosby himself to the US police.

Daniel Quiles

“Kelley Walker: Direct Drive”

CONTEMPORARY ART MUSEUM ST. LOUIS
SAINT LOUIS
Through December 31
Curated by Jeffrey Uslip

“Direct Drive”—a reference to the motors used in high-speed hard drives—is an apt subtitle for this first US survey of an artist who brought both Pop and appropriation art into the twenty-first century. Technology (digital and analog) serves as Kelley Walker’s subject and informs his processes, which include breaking apart color prints sourced from news images into separate CMYK layers, repurposing silk screens as supports, and cutting up a MacBook Pro to create a sculpture. Less a midcareer retrospective than a showcase for Walker’s continuing exploration of new media, this exhibition of more than forty works from 2002 to the present—complete with two fully illustrated catalogues—highlights a number of works in two and three dimensions, including the artist’s celebrated series “Disasters,” 2002; “Recycling,” 2003–; “Black Star Press,” 2004–2008; “Brick Painting,” 2006–15; and “Volkswagen,” 2010–14, as well as new pieces created especially for this showing.

Robert Hobbs

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