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.
Promoting a vision somewhere between glory and horror, the postwar German group Zero has long puzzled me. Was their self-proclaimed desire to create a tabula rasato wipe the slate clean for the worldpart of a techno-utopian beginning or an insidious historical forgetting? Or neither? This large-scale survey ventures to find out, showcasing approximately two hundred works and installations by members Heinz Mack, Otto Piene, and Günther Uecker but also by their pan-European network of friends and associates, from Lucio Fontana to Jesús Rafael Soto. Beyond these social and geographic relations, Zero made connections across media, too, linking painterly grid and raster scan, monochrome and screen, bodily movement and mechanized kinesis, optical perception and electric lightand pointing toward a future in which art and technology, human and nonhuman, might merge, for better or for worse.
This exhibitionderived from a 2011 Bronx Museum symposium and accompanying volume of the same nametakes Lucio Costa’s idealized dwelling unit in Brasília, the superquadra, as a jumping-off point to explore the ways in which contemporary artists have addressed the contested legacy of Latin American and Caribbean architectural modernism. Twenty-plus artists contribute more than sixty works in diverse mediaranging from quasi-architectural interventions (Los Carpinteros) to incisive social critique (Daniela Ortiz and Alexander Apóstol) to poetic reflections on history and form (Quisqueya Henríquez and Ishmael Randall Weeks). These heterogeneous approaches promise to grapple not only with midcentury modernism’s effects on the built environment but with its abiding spectral presence as an emblem of utopia. Talks, screenings, and performances at an off-site pavilion designed by Canadian artist Terence Gower and Argentinean architect Galia Solomonoff will round out the show.
Robert Gober’s iconic wax legs and oblique domestic objects possess the force of an eruption. They remain the most evocative sculptural rendition I have seen of the unconscious making itself known. That his work emerged during the plague years of HIV/AIDS only adds to the pain that typically accompanies psychic discovery. Gober is also one of our primary interlocutors with Marcel Duchampnot the Conceptual, institutional-critique Duchamp, but the more elusive and evocative strain of Duchamp’s oeuvre that concerns itself with the problems of love, desire, and marriage. This retrospective of some 140 works from the 1970s through the present includes the return of Gober’s magisterial Dia installation of 1992. The catalogue comes with an essay by critic Hilton Als: Who could ask for a more affective and intelligent pairing?
Featuring just under two dozen works, the Museum of Fine Art’s upcoming exhibition will present a tightly focused look at five decades of Jasper Johns’s probing of the interplay of sign, process, and device.Highlighting the artist’s diverse and often elaborate efforts in printmaking, “Picture Puzzles”assembled from private collections and the MFA’s own holdingswill also include a small sampling of drawings and sculptures and a copy of Foirades/Fizzles, the 1976 artists’ book Johns made in collaboration with Samuel Beckett. Spanning from Johns’s early gridded and layered numbers of the 1960s to the 2010 etching and aquatint Fragment of a Letterbased on an excerpt of a van Gogh missive and rendered in both stenciled type and American Sign Language pictographsthese puzzles compose a half century’s exploration of the complexities not just of image making but of representation itself.
In 1986, Mildred Constantine, Neda Al-Hilali, and Mary Jane Jacob organized an exhaustive traveling exhibition titled “Fiber R/Evolution.” It included such luminaries in the field of fibers as Sheila Hicks, Anne Wilson, and Claire Zeisler, and it unapologetically reinforced craft’s relationship to gender and women’s work. Nearly thirty years later, “Fiber”features many of the artists represented in the breakout ’86 show (including Hicks, Wilson, and Zeisler) but expands its purview to include a broad range of generations, nationalities, and conceptual approaches, as represented by thirty-four artists who engage in the material processes of the craft. The catalogue, which includes an essay by the new director of New York’s Museum of Arts and Design, Glenn Adamson, will flesh out the implications of fiber’s political and conceptual “r/evolutions.” Travels to the Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus, OH, Feb.–May 2015; Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, Aug.–Oct. 2015; Des Moines Art Center, IA, Nov. 2015–Jan. 2016.
Metamorphology, a term borrowed from Goethe’s protoevolutionary theory, is a persuasive catchall for Simon Starling’s practice, which is postmediumand multimediayet full of research-heavy, labor-intensive, material transformations. This first major museum survey in the US will include, among eleven ambitious works from the past decade, a propped two-ton slab of Romanian steel titled after Brancusi’s 1923 Bird in Space, which Duchamp had likewise shepherded through US customs, duty-free, some eighty years earlierbut only after a protracted court case over its aesthetic status. Another modernist giant hovers over Project for a Masquerade (Hiroshima), 2010, an installation marshaling complex cross-cultural narratives linking Henry Moore, early atomic research, and the provenance of materials. The catalogue includes contributions by Mark Godfrey, the curators, and Starling himself.
Travels to the Musée d’Art Contemporain de Montréal, Feb.–Apr. 2015.