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.
After 9/11, Paul Chan distinguished himself by confronting the world-historical crises of the ensuing decade through a mesmerizing poetic dialogue with predecessors ranging from Henri Matisse to Maurice Blanchot to Martha Rosler. After carrying out a series of virtuosic projects, including Waiting for Godot in New Orleans, 2007; “The 7 Lights,” 2005–2008; and Sade for Sade’s Sake, 2009, Chan retired from the art world proper, focusing instead on his eccentric Badlands Unlimited publishing house. This April, he will mount his first exhibition since this hiatus began, a period that witnessed the democratic uprisings of 2011, the anthropogenic climate disaster of Hurricane Sandy, and the enraging verdict of the Trayvon Martin case. That this large-scale show will be held in Basel, home to various cultural smorgasbords of the 1 percent, may seem incongruous, but given the unsettling interventions and untimely meditations for which Chan is known, what better site for his reemergence than this contradictory arena?
Assembling selections from six decades’ worth of Cy Twombly’s production, including paintings, works on paper, and sculpturessome never shown beforethis exhibition will, incredibly, be the first major solo presentation in Latin America of the late abstractionist’s work. His inimitable art, reflecting both the universal and the highly personal and eccentric, dissolves language into line and elides the distinction between writing and drawing, collapsing, in the process, the brushstroke and the word, mark-making and text, and, indeed, the acts of viewing and reading. With impressive loans, and accompanied by a major publication, Museo Jumex’s presentation at its recently inaugurated venue promises a formidable first posthumous survey of Twombly’s classical/radical body of work.
“Preface,” Walid Raad’s first major exhibition in a French museum, conjoins the refined research the artist has conducted as the Atlas Group (regarding the real and representational violence of Lebanese civil wars) and Scratching on Things I Could Disavow, his ongoing investigation, begun in 2007, into the suspiciously vigorous appearance of Arab modernism in global art institutions. On display will be new Atlas Group works that give formthat of the assassinated bodyto Raad’s prior preoccupations with the abstractly pictorial regimes evidenced in his photographs of car bombings and bullet-scarred buildings. Such an avowedly embodied focus complements the documentary reach of Scratching on Things I Could Disavow, which marks the artist’s pursuit of what artist Jalal Toufic has characterized as the immaterial effects of disaster on cultural inheritance. Imaginative to the end, the exhibition eschews a catalogue in favor of a quadrilingual artist’s book.
Travels to the Museo MADRE, Naples, Oct. 2014–Jan. 2015.
In 1984, Barbara Kruger wrote “Job Description,” a short piece that begins, “Your work is about,” and then proceeds with a formidable list of such things as “formula and the elegant solution,” “desire and the prolongation of stasis,” and “pleasure and the proper name.” Three decades later, the operations Kruger named in this cheeky CV, a meditation on her work’s engagement with the public sphere, seem no less urgent. The artist’s signature stylewhich mimics the language of advertising to invert the power dynamic that that language imposesno longer produces the uncanny confusion it once did. It now stands as immediately recognizable in its own right, and it is only more powerful for having come out from under cover. This summer, Kruger’s workincluding her predigital “pasteups,” recent videos, and an enveloping site-specific piecewill fill Modern Art Oxford, asking viewers to consider, again, where they stand in relation to the ever-shifting landscape of the culture industry.
Few young artists so instinctively grasp the zeitgeist as does Ed Atkins. In his films, computer-rendered avatars overflow with emotional monologues, and a virtuoso digital aesthetic is undercut by a fixation on fleshdeath and decay are recurrent subjects. Staging near-simultaneous shows in London and Paris, the prolific British artist is set to present new works at the Serpentine alongside Ribbons, which debuted in Zurich this spring. The three-channel installation will also be the main event at the Palais de Tokyo. And yet the work won’t appear the same way twice. Arguably, the piece is Atkins’s best yet, revolving around lost love (and intemperate drinking), with a sound track featuring melancholy songs by Randy Newman and Henry Purcell, voiced by a self-medicating CGI skinhead. If such art aims to restore a sense of jangled presentness to spectators increasingly immersed in dematerialization, the abundant air of panic Atkins offers here hints that we might already be too far gone.
For its tenth edition, the Manifesta Foundation will settle its itinerant biennial at the edge of a former empire, in one of the world’s oldest museums: the Hermitage in Saint Petersburg. Once touted as a “window to Europe,” Russia’s second city has recently drawn its shades, as domestic politicsnotably, the criminalization of “homosexual propaganda”have sparked international protests. Mindful of this context,König will address questions of the body, drawing on the museum’s treasured Matisse collection (which includes The Dance, 1909–10) to develop a politically nuanced exhibition of more than fifty artistsfrom Francis Al˙s, Joseph Beuys, Nicole Eisenman, Maria Lassnig, and Pavel Pepperstein to gender-bending pioneers from the perestroika era such as Timur Novikov and Vladislav Mamyshev-Monroe. The catalogue will feature essays by Ekaterina Andreeva, Ekaterina Degot, Helmut Draxler, and Silvia Eiblmayr.