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.
Over his roughly twenty-year career, Polish artist Paweł Althamer has fashioned a singularly thoughtful and intuitive body of work, body being the operative word. Despite the varying mediums he has adoptedsculpture, video, installation, and diffuse forms of social praxis (from leading ceramics workshops to flying more than 150 of his Warsaw neighbors, clad in gold space suits, to Brussels)the corporeal remains at the heart of Althamer’s endeavor. In addition, his first US retrospective includes a new iteration of The Draftsman’s Congress, an expansive drawing with an open call for participants, originally realized at the Seventh Berlin Biennale in 2012 (organized by Althamer’s sometimes collaborator Artur Żmijewski, who contributes an essay to the New Museum catalogue, as does Joanna Mytkowska, director of the Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw). This survey of Althamer’s works in all mediums should at last allow us to perceive the nuances of his multifarious project.
Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux’s controversial sculpture has become synonymous with the Second Empire, the regime he served so well. His portraits captured its glittering women and self-made men, Napoléon III among them, while editioned spin-offs from his monumental public workssuch as La Danse, carved for the Paris Opera in 1869made them available to the bourgeois connoisseur. The great public pieces will inevitably be absent from this exhibition (co-organized with Paris’s Musée d’Orsay), but its sheer scalemore than 160 sculptures, paintings, and drawings (particularly revealing of Carpeaux’s mind at work)will help to fill the hole. As for the catalogue, no comprehensive account of the sculptor’s art and career has been published in English in nearly three decades. One can only hope that the show’s breathless title does not herald greater hyperbole to come. Travels to the Musée d’Orsay, Paris.
Austrian-born Maria Lassnig traveled from Paris to New York in 1968, in midcareer, to leave behind not only the continent of Europe but also its fundamental misunderstanding of her “body-consciousness paintings” as a form of expressionism. Embraced today for her defiant attitude, Lassnig garnered a Golden Lion at last year’s Venice Biennale for a lifetime of work that cuts to the bone. Assembling some fifty paintings from private and public collections as well as from the artist’s studiotogether with a selection of her watercolors and rarely screened experimental animationsEleey focuses on the groundbreaking self-portraits Lassnig has been making for over seven decades, which translate interiority and corporeal experience into radical, vulnerable, and sometimes sarcastic pictures. Organized in collaboration with the Neue Galerie Graz, Austria.
Translated from German by Alexander Scrimgeour.
The Italian Futurist movement was launched in 1909 with its belligerent leader F. T. Marinetti’s proclamation “Art can be nothing but violence, cruelty, and injustice.” Given the fashionability of social inclusion in art today, Marinetti’s dictate is a bracing reminder of a darker, more radical tradition of artistic activism. The Guggenheim’s survey of the movement will not only be sweepingwith more than three hundred works that cross the boundaries of art, architecture, design, film, literature, sound, and performancebut will be the first of its kind in the US. The exhibition and scholarly catalogue will document how the Futurists aimed at “reconstructing the universe” through intermediality as well as mechanized warfare, tracing the “heroic” years leading up to World War I and the fascist period of the 1920s–40s, when artists pressed on with their formal innovations in defiance of the times’ rappel à l’ordre.
William J. O’Brien’s feverish material explorations regularly succumb to restrained, taxonomical displays when entering the public arena. At Chicago’s Renaissance Society in 2011, O’Brien installed a tiered arrangement of modestly scaled ceramic objects. Last winter, he hung grids of felt compositions and framed oil pastel and inkwash works on paper at Marianne Boesky Gallery in New York. For this survey exhibition at the MCA, to be complemented by the first major catalogue devoted to the artist’s work, roughly one hundred of O’Brien’s abundant artifacts will be “organized like a poem,” with stanza-like groupings convening disparate objects including textiles, paintings, colored-pencil abstractions, ceramics, and glitter-coated assemblages. One of the show’s earlier pieces is a 2008 line drawing that depicts a nude clown with a conspicuous erection, riding a camel-like circus animalan allegorical figure that, in its Calder-esque clarity and simplicity of means, should stand out as an anomaly in O’Brien’s vast field of work shaped by intuitive, romantic energies.
Conceptual artist Christopher Williams’s first museum retrospective, featuring his trademark photographs, films, and videos from the last thirty-five years, is sure to be a nontraditional survey: Williams has conceived all three incarnations of this traveling exhibition as works in their own right, each fitted with site-specific interventions that will reflect on the architecture of that venue. An extensive publicationmore artists’ book than catalogueaccompanies the project, containing essays by Godfrey, Marcoci, and Witkovsky along with a wide selection of source material: lists, budgets, contracts, and manifestos authored by Daniel Buren, Morgan Fisher, and Scritti Politti, among many others. Characteristic of all Williams’s output, this book analyzes the parameters and conditions of its own production. Travels to the Museum of Modern Art, New York, Aug. 2–Nov. 2; Whitechapel Gallery, London, Apr.–June 2015.