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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.

Carol Rama, Le tagliole (The Traps), 1966, red fox hide and enamel on canvas, 23 5/8 × 19 3/4".

“CAROL RAMA: ANTIBODIES”

NEW MUSEUM
NEW YORK
Curated by Helga Christoffersen and Massimiliano Gioni

Just two months after the widely traveled European retrospective “The Passion According to Carol Rama” closed in Turin, the first New York survey of the late Italian artist’s work opened at the New Museum. While it’s a shame “The Passion” didn’t cross the Atlantic, “Antibodies”—which features 175 works and an accompanying catalogue with essays by Italian writer and curator Lea Vergine and LA-based critic Sarah Lehrer-Graiwer—more than makes up for the loss. Spanning seven decades, the exhibition covers the full range of Rama’s practice, from the frank and fantastic eroticism of her early watercolors of the 1930s and ’40s, to the abstract abjection of the ’60s “Bricolages” and latex “vulnerable organisms,” to the carnality of her late-career figuration, embodied here in, for example, the mixed-media series “La mucca pazza” (The Mad Cow), ca. 1996–2001. “Antibodies” thus offers New York audiences a comprehensive—and long-overdue—consideration of Rama’s provocative representations of sexuality, illness, and the body.

Rachel Churner

Laura Owens, Untitled, 2013, acrylic, vinyl paint, and rubber wheels on linen, 108 × 84".

LAURA OWENS

WHITNEY MUSEUM OF AMERICAN ART
NEW YORK
Through February 4
Curated by Scott Rothkopf

What else can painting do? With wide-eyed curiosity, maverick humor, and infectious glee, Owens continues to pose this query, producing ambitious, technically rigorous, and surprising pieces unlike those of any other painter of her generation (or the next). Her works both rally and splinter the medium’s history of craft and illusionism: Haptic possibility drives her; democratic intelligence and sly pop subject matter ground her. For this LA master, painting is large-scale installation, embroidered silk-screened textile, ticking timepiece, site-specific manifesto, private treasure hunt, and eye-popping, mind-bending, gut-busting karaoke house party. This midcareer survey spans the mid-1990s to the present with approximately sixty paintings, wallpaper works, and new handmade artist’s books. The catalogue features some forty texts, documentation of ephemera, and correspondence that will flesh out Owens’s dynamic studio life, career trajectory, and far-reaching collaborative activities—collectively demonstrating her indispensability within the thriving community that orbits her. Travels to the Dallas Museum of Art, Mar. 25–July 29, 2018; Geffen Contemporary at MoCA, Los Angeles, Nov. 2018–Mar. 2019. 

Sarah Lehrer-Graiwer

“Carissa Rodriguez: The Maid”

SCULPTURECENTER
NEW YORK
January 29 - April 2
Curated by Ruba Katrib

Biographies of New York–based artist Carissa Rodriguez tend toward descriptions of an itinerant practice  encompassing the roles of writer, artist, and gallerist and moving from an early solo show at American Fine Arts (1996) and a stint at the Whitney Independent Study Program (2002) to Rodriguez’s position as director of Reena Spaulings Fine Art from 2004 to 2015. But just as “Reena” serves as the collective nom de plume of the artist’s close colleagues—who engage in a stealth interrogation of the terms of artistic identity—Rodriguez insistently reflects on the figure of the artist relative to the circulation, valuation, installation, and reproduction of the work of art. Rodriguez’s solo exhibition at SculptureCenter (her first at a New York museum) promises to showcase the breadth of such investigations, with an emphasis on the artist’s digital films (both old and newly commissioned), two of which will be the focal point of the show. An accompanying catalogue will include essays from the curator and Leah Pires.

Pamela M. Lee

Gordon Matta-Clark, Bronx Floor: Boston Road, 1973, gelatin silver print, 11 × 13 7/8".

“GORDON MATTA-CLARK: ANARCHITECT”

BRONX MUSEUM OF THE ARTS
NEW YORK
Through April 8
Curated by Antonio Sergio Bessa and Jessamyn Fiore

This exhibition promises to explore dimensions of Matta-Clark only touched on in previous retrospectives, homing in on his architectural projects of the 1970s. The artist adopted the sobriquet anarchitect, with a bow to the art brut painter Jean Dubuffet and in explicit opposition to his professional education at Cornell. But the work to be exhibited in the Bronx this fall—which will include preparatory drawings and documentation of his famous cuttings, including the highly complex incision through two seventeenth-century Parisian town houses that functioned as a viewfinder for the Centre Pompidou, then under construction—reveals a seriously competent architect’s eye. A large selection of Matta-Clark’s photography of walls and graffiti will demonstrate his considerable skill with that medium, too, and provide a record of his social and political activism—rounding out our understanding of this mercurial figure as one of the late twentieth century’s most radical thinkers. Travels to the Jeu de Paume, Paris, June 4–Sept. 23, 2018; Kumu Kunstimuuseum, Tallinn, Estonia, Mar. 1–Aug. 4, 2019; Rose Art Museum, Waltham, MA, Sept. 12–Dec. 15, 2019. 

Anthony Vidler

“Danh Vo: Take my breath away”

SOLOMON R. GUGGENHEIM MUSEUM | NEW YORK
NEW YORK
February 9 - May 9
Curated by Katherine Brinson with Susan Thompson

In the Christian tradition, the “laying on of hands” is a way of transporting a spirit from one body to another. Danh Vo made a similar technique integral to his art. Starting with an array of scavenged objects, ranging from grand chandeliers to presidential pens, Vo alters them—in ways that are undetectable to the human eye—by imbuing them with an affective charge. At times, he cuts these items into pieces, as he did with Roman sculptures and, more metaphorically, the Statue of Liberty. And then there are the cardboard boxes that he emblazons with corporate logos. All of this has made Vo central to contemporary art and a mystical figure in a de-skilled world. If Vo’s practice often focuses on the displacement and migration caused by colonial regimes, this survey of the forty-two-year-old’s career promises to address America’s present state of decay.  

Alex Kitnick

Manolis D. Lemos, dusk and dawn look just the same (riot tourism), 2017, still from the three-minute color video component of a mixed-media installation. From the 2018 Triennial: “Songs for Sabotage.”

2018 Triennial: “Songs for Sabotage”

NEW MUSEUM
NEW YORK
February 13 - May 27
Curated by Gary Carrion-Murayari and Alex Gartenfeld

Three long years ago, under Obama’s presidency and a seemingly boundless neoliberal horizon, the last triennial investigated “new visual metaphors for the self” in an expanding digital surround. Today, as institutions falter and certitudes crumble, the Janus-faced character of technology reveals itself. While enabling new modes of identity construction and self-broadcast, it is also accessory to the rise of demagogues and the impoverishment of discourse, yielding social anomie and networks of fascism. Whereas 2015’s triennial examined an increasingly seamless interface between human and machine, the 2018 iteration—as its exuberantly Luddite title suggests—proposes smashing the machine altogether. How might art address an etiolated civil society, emboldened racism, hyperfinancialization, and precarity? “Songs for Sabotage” will bring together approximately thirty emerging international artists—all born after 1981—whose work appropriates and interrogates the “machines, roads, and digital systems” of a “system that seems doomed to failure.” But will the master’s tools, as Audre Lorde famously cautioned, ever dismantle the master’s house? Watch this space.

Chloe Wyma