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.
“Direct Drive”a reference to the motors used in high-speed hard drivesis 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 presentcomplete with two fully illustrated catalogueshighlights 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.
“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.
This twenty-three-artist, pointedly internationalist exhibition pivots around the notion of esprit décor, an idea posited by the curator’s designated muse, Marcel Broodthaers. The term encapsulated a politically critical engagement with interior spaceyet today’s “wall,” as the show’s room-size installations and smaller sculptures, paintings, photographs, and video works affirm, is a projective surface for anything from barbed commentary on globalization’s tilted playing field to melancholic cultural nostalgia. Alongside work by the razor-witted Belgian, expect to encounter Lucy McKenzie’s disjointed sculptural evocations of Adolf Loos’s architecture (Loos House, 2013), Nick Mauss’s painted-mirror room dividers inspired by the cryptic visions of modernist painter Florine Stettheimer (F. S. Interval II, 2014), Paul Sietsema’s filmic epic employing modeled domestic spaces connoting American and European imperialism (Empire, 2002), and Walid Raad’s incised, freestanding stretches of museum wall space, which consider the flattening effects of the Middle East’s nascent institutions on the art they house (Letters to the Reader, 2014). These walls, once questioned, talk.
This ambitious exhibition couldn’t be timelier, given that Hispanics of predominantly Mexican origin are now the second-largest ethnic group in the United States, and considering the dismaying signs of cultural intolerance highlighted in the current presidential race. “Paint the Revolution” makes a case for Mexico’s enduring influence in the US and its significant contributions to modernism. Part of the exhibition deals with the encounters between Hispanic and Anglo-American cultures. One section explores early attempts at what is known today as decolonization. Another focuses on the artistic community’s international connections. These approachespresent in paintings, murals, prints, photographs, broadsheets, and bookspoint to historical frictions between regionalisms and cosmopolitanisms and to their differing visual expressions, which may also elucidate the aesthetic divides expressed in contemporary art and the inherent demand that it be both locally significant and internationally meaningful. Travels to the Museo del Palacio de Bellas Artes, Mexico City, 2017.
Hélio Oiticica is an artist whose name has become ubiquitous in discussions of global contemporary art, yet his work is often represented or described in limited, even self-serving ways. “To Organize Delirium”a collaboration between the Carnegie Museum of Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Whitney Museum of American Art in New Yorkshould constitute a welcome corrective by providing the most complete retrospective to date (151 pieces in all media, including twenty-three works by other artists) and an extensive scholarly catalogue with contributions by the curators as well as from many younger scholars of Brazilian art and culture. The exhibition will also be the first to extensively explore Oiticica’s time in London and New York (1969–78) and will enrich our sense of the artist’s foundational contributions to both historical and contemporary international conversations about modernism, sexuality, and the political potential of art. Travels to the Art Institute of Chicago, Feb. 19–May 7, 2017; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, July 14–Oct. 1, 2017.