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.

Carlos Cruz-Diez, Physichromie 321–B (detail), 1964, triptych, plastic, cardboard, acrylic, wood, overall 2' × 11' 11 3/8". From “The Illusive Eye: Op Art and the Americas in the 1960s.”

“The Illusive Eye: Op Art and the Americas in the 1960s”

Through April 30
Curated by Jorge Daniel Veneciano

Celebrating its fiftieth anniversary, El Museo del Barrio (in partnership with the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Buenos Aires) will revisit the Museum of Modern Art’s 1965 exhibition “The Responsive Eye,” with the stated ambition of presenting the history of Op art from a Latin American perspective. The show includes some seventy paintings, sculptures, and environments produced during the 1950s, ’60s, and ’70s by some fifty artists, including Julio Le Parc, Carlos Cruz-Diez, and Jesús Rafael Soto (who refused to participate in MoMA’s show) as well as several others whose “origins” are not South American—e.g., Bridget Riley and Victor Vasarely. Yet many Latin American artists of the time strove to be universal, such that the necessity of a geographic perspective invites paradox. Surely the catalogue, with essays by the curator, MACBA director Aldo Rubino, Ariel Jimenez, Luiz Camillo Osorio, and Rocío Aranda-Alvarado, will engage this very issue.

Kaira M. Cabañas

“Laura Poitras: Astro Noise”

Through May 1
Curated by Jay Sanders

In 2013, filmmaker Laura Poitras became the message bearer for Edward Snowden, who contacted her to share documents revealing the NSA’s covert global-spying activities; their interaction formed the core of Poitras’s Oscar-winning documentary CITIZENFOUR. Poitras screened and discussed pre-Snowden research on US-government surveillance in the 2012 Whitney Biennial and returns this spring to mount her first solo museum exhibition, for which she will create a series of immersive spaces from a personal archive of materials related to her ongoing investigations of post-9/11 America. Poitras has long stressed the role of storytelling in her filmmaking, and this show promises a narrative experience for attendees, whose exploration of the space will be guided by distinctive architectural interventions. Not your typical exhibition catalogue, the accompanying publication, Astro Noise: A Survival Guide to Living Under Total Surveillance, will be a collection of original works from contributors including Hito Steyerl, Trevor Paglen, Ai Weiwei, Jill Magid, and Snowden himself, with a free version to be distributed at events internationally.

Ed Halter

Marcel Broodthaers, General with Cigar, 1970, found oil painting, cigar, 15 3/4 × 11 7/8 × 2 3/4". © Estate of Marcel Broodthaers/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/SABAM, Brussels.

“Marcel Broodthaers: Retrospective”

Through May 15
Curated by Christophe Cherix and Manuel Borja-Villel

Those who thought they knew this father of institutional critique will have their heads turned by Marcel Broodthaers’s first US survey in a quarter century. Comprising some 200 works, including early egg- and mussel-shell pieces, film installations that incorporate the works’ packaging and screens, and the late décors—which combined retrospective, film set, and proto-installation art—MoMA’s exhibition builds on its acquisition of the extraordinary Daled collection and is complemented by a catalogue with essays from the curators, Benjamin H. D. Buchloh, Thierry de Duve, and Jean-François Chevrier. Rarely seen objects such as the postcard collection with which Broodthaers launched his Musée d’Art Moderne, Département des Aigles in 1968 and a darkly funny flea-market portrait of a fully decorated general punctuated with an actual cigar butt should lend acute insight into the artist’s crucial linkages between nationalism, imperialism, and the fetishism of art itself. The timing couldn’t be better. Travels to the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid, Oct. 4, 2016–Jan. 9, 2017.

Rachel Haidu


Through August 7
Curated by Catherine J. Morris, Saisha Grayson, Jess Wilcox, and Stephanie Weissberg

Titles with exclamation points can come off like they’re trying too hard. This exhibition, however, might merit such enthusiasm, as its innovative premise connects past and present through a consideration of shifting definitions of propaganda. Twenty recent art and activist practices such as those of Chto Delat, Marina Naprushkina, and Dyke Action Machine will be placed alongside five case studies from earlier in the twentieth century, including considerations of the NAACP’s campaign against lynching and of Soviet feminist agitation. With its focus on graphic design, newsprint, and posters, “Agitprop!” could illuminate how specific shared formal strategies have resonated across time and place, as well as reveal quite local aesthetics. Collaboratively organized by Morris and the staff of the Sackler Center, the show will mutate and expand over the course of its eight-month run.

Julia Bryan-Wilson

Geoffrey Farmer, Boneyard (detail), 2013, paper, wood, glue, dimensions variable. Photo: Jean Vong.

Geoffrey Farmer

Through July 31
Curated by Dan Byers

Geoffrey Farmer succinctly noted, some months back, “My work appears to me as wreckage”—articulating the formal-pileup effect of his exploded-collage installations, the air of obsolescence emanating from the vintage print media he uses so pointedly, and even the way his hundreds of Frankensteined cutouts swarm like the undead and stand at attention. He captures that intoxicating Benjaminian sensation that we experience when faced, like the angel of history, with the quantities of accretion and devastation that constitute the stuff of the archive and “progress.” Monumental, room-size stagings of the miniature, including Boneyard, 2013, and The Surgeon and the Photographer, 2009–13, will be featured in this survey of Farmer’s recent paper sculptures, a mostly medium-specific presentation with the notable exception of a computer-generated algorithmic slide show. An artist-driven publication, with a text by the curator, will accompany the exhibition.

Sarah Lehrer-Graiwer

Kathryn Andrews, Coming to America (Filet-O-Fish), 2013, stainless steel, paint, found object, film props, 104 1/4 × 54 × 43".

“Kathryn Andrews: Run for President”

Through May 8
Curated by Julie Rodrigues Widholm

While Chicago is the birthplace of presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and the adopted hometown of POTUS no. 44 Barack Obama, the title of LA-based Kathryn Andrews’s first solo museum show in the US refers to a presidential campaign by—surprise!—Bozo the Clown. Fifteen seductive yet chilling sculptures, made since 2011, many of which amend certified movie props (among other political footballs thrown from the collective unconscious), will be appointed to a wild exhibition narrative for which Bozo’s largely forgotten 1984 bid serves as a backdrop. No clown rides alone, and the red-nosed candidate will be joined by an ensemble that includes Richard Nixon, Mr. T, Nancy Reagan, McDonald’s Captain Crook (who pirates Filet-O-Fish sandwiches), and Sammy Davis Jr. A catalogue with contributions by pundits Widholm, Kristine Stiles, and Hamza Walker (in conversation with Andrews) thickens the plot.

Michael Ned Holte