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 Flood is a Pop artist with punk-rock roots, gnarly and deliriously twisted, and this show’s misspelling of “Greatest Hits” is obviously intended. To grate: to irritate or annoy, to rub or wear away, to make a harsh rasping sound. That’s what Flood’s been doing all along, wielding a poison pen in his wickedly inspired writing and using an X-Acto knife like a scalpel to dissect modern life. This survey of nearly fifty works made over the past thirty years brings together fractured collages that eviscerate celebrity, and paintings that rattle the basest drives of society by perversely encouraging themwith phrases like ASK YOUR DRUG DEALER IF YOUR HEART IS STRONG ENOUGH FOR SEXUAL ACTIVITY. No wonder the museum will offer “age-restricted tours.” Flood’s popular-with-collectors “lace” paintings will also be on view. As beautiful as they may be, their abraded surfaces conjure not only the friction of his previous work, but a whole history of painting that commands, “Destroy the picture.” In Flood’s universe, to collide the “best of” and the “worst of” is simply to ask: What’s the difference? A catalogue with essays by Arning, Alison Gingeras, Scott Indrisek, Carlo McCormick, and El Topito should have a field day with that one.
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 indignitiesparticularly that which circumscribes the daily experience of the incarceratedit also, somewhat more than implicitly, critiques a system in which blacks are jailed at six times the rate of whites.
“Ordinary Pictures” will investigate the pervasive relevance and versatility of stock photographyimages often constructed as tropes and produced expressly for commercial usethrough 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 itselfand on every work’s potential to perform as both concept and cliché.
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.
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 investigationsan assortment of miniature paintings, sketchbooks, and small sculpturesthat 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.
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.