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.

Laurie Simmons, How We See/Liz/Coral, 2014, ink-jet print, 70 × 48".

“Laurie Simmons: How We See”

Through August 9
Curated by Kelly Taxter

Laurie Simmons’s sustained investigation into both physical and psychological artifice—from the figurines and miniaturized architectural environments pictured in her early photos to her later deployment of anatomically accurate “love dolls” as actors in oddly poignant domestic dramas around her own home—has a certain conceptual and spatial trajectory to it, and her decision in recent years to begin working with human subjects represents a logical, intriguing turn in her provocative practice. Characteristically looking to trouble questions of identity and presentation, the photographs in “How We See” build on a suite of portraits the artist first exhibited last year, for which she drew on the cosplay form known in Japan as kigurumi. The recent, large-scale images depict a series of “doll girls” with wide, Margaret Keane–style eyes carefully painted on their closed lids—modified bodies located at the uncanny point where the “natural” comes in contact with the emerging technologies and habits of posthumanist self-representation.

Jeffrey Kastner

Valentino, “Shanghai” collection evening dress, 2013, silk and synthetic netting, silk chiffon appliqué, beads. From “China: Through the Looking Glass.”

“China: Through the Looking Glass”

Through August 16
Curated by Andrew Bolton

Among the most subtly erotic images in all cinema is the slow-motion shot of Maggie Cheung wearing an iridescent cheongsam that shimmers red to green as she ascends the stairs in Wong Kar-wai’s In the Mood for Love (2002). Working with his longtime production and costume designer, William Chang, Wong is the artistic director for “China: Through the Looking Glass,” a collaboration between the Met’s Costume Institute and its Department of Asian Art. The exhibition will showcase decorative objects and clothes from three centuries of Chinese history, as well as fashions by Western designers inspired by Chinese design and imagery—from Paul Poiret and Mainbocher to Chanel and Charles James, from Saint Laurent and Balenciaga to Dries Van Noten and Paul Smith—more than forty in all. There will be films, but also theatrical and musical performances and an accompanying publication with contributions from Wong, designer John Galliano, and numerous scholars.

Amy Taubin

“Russian Modernism: Cross-Currents in German and Russian Art, 1907–1917”

Through August 31
Curated by Konstantin Akinsha

The decade preceding the Russian Revolution witnessed productive interchange between German and Russian artists, and Munich was a major hub for the imagining and development of an alternative to Parisian modernism. Artists such as Wassily Kandinsky and Alexei von Jawlensky congregated there, informed and inspired by their French colleagues but also allied with their German counterparts in an embrace of Central European and Eastern particularity. “Russian Modernism” promises to be eye-opening for US audiences more familiar with the German-Soviet exchanges of Constructivism. This earlier chapter is equally fraught with tensions between nationalist and internationalist agendas: The exhibition’s challenge will be to address the artists’ politics as well as the breach that occurred during World War I, when Russians were forced to leave Germany and any remaining ties had to be maintained over enemy lines. The catalogue features essays by scholars including Jane Sharp and Vivian Endicott Barnett.

Bibiana Obler

“One-Way Ticket: Jacob Lawrence’s Migration Series and Other Visions of the Great Movement North”

Through September 7
Curated by Leah Dickerman

Between 1900 and 1960, an estimated five million African Americans migrated from Southern states to urban centers in the North, a process accelerated in 1915 by the wartime industrial boom. In a series of sixty tempera panels created in 1940–41, Jacob Lawrence captured in striking color and form the experience of these individuals on the move. The paintings, usually split between MoMA and the Phillips Collection in Washington, DC—the show’s organizers, in collaboration with the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture—will be reunited this spring for the first time in two decades. Scholar Henry Louis Gates has argued that the Great Migration caused the emergence of a new culture, and Lawrence’s images bear witness to the massive social, political, and demographic transformations of the period. Seeing the paintings alongside contemporaneous responses in painting, photography, literature, and music will highlight Lawrence’s series as a trenchant reformulation of historical accounting in the modern period.

Rachael Z. DeLue

“Yoko Ono: One Woman Show, 1960–1971”

Through September 7
Curated by Klaus Biesenbach and Christophe Cherix

In 1960, Yoko Ono was part of a groundbreaking downtown scene in which artists of all stripes had begun writing short text-based scores using post-Cagean strategies of the “experimental” or “indeterminate” to open the work of art to unforeseen possibilities. While most used this approach to transcend painting, Ono’s twist at her debut at AG Gallery—George Maciunas’s short-lived pre-Fluxus space—was to deploy “paintings” shot through with poetry, performance, and ambient, incidental media. Her now-infamous Painting to Be Stepped On, 1960, will be among the 125 film-, audio-, object-, and paper-based works brought together at MoMA, as will video documentation of her landmark Cut-Piece, 1965, an extraordinary engendering of the violence of spectatorship without boundaries. This overview, which contextualizes Ono’s “instruction pieces,” should allow for a further questioning of the limits and scope of 1960s innovation, including Fluxus’s antagonistic, if preemptive, relation to Conceptual art.

Julia Robinson

“Albert Oehlen: Home and Garden”

Through September 13
Curated by Massimiliano Gioni and Gary Carrion-Murayari

F. Scott Fitzgerald famously quipped that a first-rate intelligence is marked by the ability to hold two opposed ideas simultaneously and still function. By this measure, Albert Oehlen clearly ranks among the most intelligent artists working today. Over the course of more than thirty years, Oehlen has assaulted traditional ideas of painterly subjectivity and taste while producing works of almost classical formal balance and (dare it be said) beauty. “Home and Garden” (to be accompanied by a catalogue featuring essays by Gioni, Mark Godfrey, and Anne Pontégnie, as well as an interview with the artist) uses the conceit of oppositions between interior and exterior to frame the artist’s ongoing dialectical approach. Amassing two floors’ worth of works from the early 1980s to the present, this show gives its subject his long-overdue New York museum debut and promises a healthy dose of Oehlen’s particular—and influential—brand of painterly intelligence.

Jordan Kantor