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.


Through August 7
Curated by Catherine J. Morris, Saisha Grayson, Jess Wilcox, and Stephanie Weissberg

Titles with exclamation points can come off like they’re trying too hard. This exhibition, however, might merit such enthusiasm, as its innovative premise connects past and present through a consideration of shifting definitions of propaganda. Twenty recent art and activist practices such as those of Chto Delat, Marina Naprushkina, and Dyke Action Machine will be placed alongside five case studies from earlier in the twentieth century, including considerations of the NAACP’s campaign against lynching and of Soviet feminist agitation. With its focus on graphic design, newsprint, and posters, “Agitprop!” could illuminate how specific shared formal strategies have resonated across time and place, as well as reveal quite local aesthetics. Collaboratively organized by Morris and the staff of the Sackler Center, the show will mutate and expand over the course of its eight-month run.

Julia Bryan-Wilson

Iris van Herpen, dress from the fall/winter 2013–14 haute couture “Wilderness Embodied” collection, silicone feathers, cotton twill, silicone-coated gull skulls, synthetic pearls, glass eyes. From “Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology.” Photo: Nicholas Alan Cope.

“Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology”

Through August 14
Curated by Andrew Bolton

Any great dress is wearable technology. It’s the product of technology, insofar as clothes that deserve to be expensive are manifestations of craft, art, and workmanship—of technē, as the Greeks denoted “cleverness of hand.” It’s also a kind of tech product, in that clothes augment perceptions of the wearer that become the wearer’s reality.

This spring’s extravangaza is a show unconcerned with whether hands or machines are cleverer. Paid for by Apple with additional help from Condé Nast, “Manus x Machina” weaves together (handmade, traditional) couture and (machine-made, avant-garde) ready-to-wear. A suite of rooms is decked out like a Parisian atelier, while the Met’s Anna Wintour Costume Center hosts a demonstration of 3-D printing and a catalogue boasts interviews with Hussein Chalayan, Nicolas Ghesquière, Karl Lagerfeld, and Miuccia Prada, among others. From a 130-year-old Charles Frederick Worth ballgown, brocaded in silk, to a three-year-old Iris van Herpen frock, printed in pale flamingo acrylic, the hundred-some garments on display are technically wearable and totally, cumulatively unreal.

Sarah Nicole Prickett

László Moholy-Nagy, A II (Construction A II), 1924, oil and graphite on canvas, 45 5/8 × 53 3/4". © Hattula Maholy-Nagy/VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

“Moholy-Nagy: Future Present”

Through September 7
Curated by Karole Vail

This traveling survey of the renowned Bauhaus artist’s oeuvre will be the first retrospective of his work in the United States since the museum last hosted one in 1969. The earlier show emphasized his effusive embrace of technology and his capacity to think and work in gleeful disregard of any notion of medium specificity, which resonated powerfully with a generation of artists attempting to free themselves from the confines of modernist painting. Perhaps as a mark of how influential this attitude has been in decades since, the intermediality that once seemed so radical now constitutes the norm. Anchored by the museum’s own superb collection, the forthcoming exhibition will feature 250 objects in every conceivable medium, as well as replicas and speculative constructions of projects unrealized in the artist’s lifetime, affording us the opportunity to ponder the scope and future trajectory of Moholy-Nagy’s impact. A catalogue with essays by Vail and the cocurators of the show's Chicago and Los Angeles iterations—Matthew S. Witkovsky and Carol S. Eliel, respectively—among others, will accompany the exhibition. Travels to the Art Institute of Chicago, Oct. 2, 2016–Jan. 3, 2017; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Feb. 12–June 18, 2017.

Joyce Tsai

Roberto Burle Marx, design for Minister’s Rooftop Garden, Ministry of Education and Health, Rio de Janeiro, 1938, gouache on paper, 20 1/2 × 41 3/8". © Burle Marx & Cia. Ltd., Rio de Janeiro.

“Roberto Burle Marx: Brazilian Modernist”

Through September 18
Curated by Jens Hoffmann and Claudia J. Nahson

With an immediately recognizable palette of forms between paintings, prints, tapestries, and above all gardens, Roberto Burle Marx was one of only a handful of polymath twentieth-century designers able to infuse a subtly layered sense of space to his work at every scale, from jewelry to urban space. Though he has long been celebrated as having translated painting into landscape architecture, this first presentation of the Brazilian artist’s work in New York in a quarter century will also emphasize the ways in which his fluency with plants—he discovered some fifty species—was driven by a subtle exploration of layers of hue, time, and light and shadow. This display of some 150 works also includes theater design and Burle Marx’s little-known late work for synagogues, all the while exploring his ongoing influence on contemporary artists. Travels to the Deutsche Bank KunstHalle, Berlin, July 7–Oct. 8, 2017; Museu de Arte do Rio, Rio de Janeiro, Nov. 2017–Mar. 2018.

Barry Bergdoll

Danny Lyon, Juan Darias, Colombia, 1975, gelatin silver print, 5 5/8 × 4 1/4". © Danny Lyon.

“Danny Lyon: Message to the Future”

Through September 25
Curated by Julian Cox and Elisabeth Sussman

The invitation to Danny Lyon’s unmissable retrospective at the Whitney this summer might read, concisely, “Welcome to Bleak Beauty,” as does the splash page of the artist’s website. Lyon is known primarily for his photographic books—rich photo-and-text essays like The Bikeriders (1967), Conversations with the Dead (1971), Indian Nations (2002)—and this exhibition includes generous selections from these and many other bodies of work spanning from 1963 to the present, as well as rarely seen films and objects from the artist’s archive. Indeed bleak, and beautiful, the work is also deeply engaged—not just activist, but active; you feel his presence and commitment to the lives and issues of the people he works with in his pictures’ every fiber. With the chance to see close to 175 photographs made over the course of fifty years, we’ll also be reminded of the simple, maddening questions Lyon’s work continues to prompt, as specified in his website’s “contents”: Who are we? Where do we come from? Where are we going? Travels to the de Young Museum, San Francisco, Nov. 5, 2016–Mar. 12, 2017.

Lucy Raven

“The Keeper”

Through September 25
Curated by Massimiliano Gioni, Margot Norton, Helga Christoffersen, and Natalie Bell

What would Walter Benjamin do with our Storage Wars and Spark Joy moment? “Every passion borders on the chaotic, but the collector’s passion borders on the chaos of memories,” he famously wrote. The things we choose to hold on to signal intimate and emotional links to history in an ever more virtual (and uprooted) world. At the heart of “The Keeper” is the power and preservation of such objects and images. The curators will transform the New Museum into a multimedia high-low Wunderkammer of the global twentieth-into-twenty-first century, with eccentric ethnographies and ritual archives—among them, one containing thousands of photos of people and their teddy bears—culled from artists, institutions, and intellectuals. If you missed the 2013 Venice Biennale, here’s the chance to see one of its great highlights—Roger Caillois’s mineral collection. And fear not, bibliophiles: There will be a catalogue to add to your home library.

Prudence Peiffer