International 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.

“Matt Mullican: The feeling of things”

PIRELLI HANGARBICOCCA
MILAN
April 12 - September 16
Curated by Roberta Tenconi

Matt Mullican is a polymath. A performer, an archivist, and a maker of exquisite objects, he was among the first artists to anticipate early computer technology with an exceptionally varied visual language—before fractured attention was a deficit. After finishing his studies at CalArts in 1974, emerging from feminist art discourses into the circle of the Pictures artists, Mullican worked with hypnosis to create a performance persona—who may or may not be the artist himself, but who has generated an enormous body of drawings over a span of forty years. Such works are often installed to guide the viewer through the artist’s “five worlds,” or levels of perception. In the spectacular halls of HangarBicocca, Mullican’s ability to shape our consciousness (or to make us think he can) will unfold in a built environment designed by the artist. Surveying his sculptures, rubbings, light boxes, and works on paper, this major retrospective will function as an immersive, quasi-architectural object, documented in an accompanying catalogue for those who miss it.  

Connie Butler

Jesús Rafael Soto, Double transparencia (Double Transparency), 1956, oil and acrylic on wood, 21 5/8 × 21 5/8 × 12 5/8". From “Concrete Matters.” © Jesús Rafael Soto/Bildupphovsrätt.

“Concrete Matters”

MODERNA MUSEET | STOCKHOLM
STOCKHOLM
February 24 - May 13
Curated by Matilda Olof-Ors

Having long ago supplanted “fantastic” figuration as the face of Latin American modernism, Concrete art is now enjoying a victory lap of sorts, with recent shows at David Zwirner in New York, the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles, and the Royal Academy of Arts in London. Matilda Olof-Ors is organizing this sampling of some seventy works by Lygia Clark, Hélio Oiticica, Tomás Maldonado, Jesús Rafael Soto, Gego, and others, with an emphasis on Brazil’s Grupo Ruptura and Grupo Frente (based in 1950s São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, respectively). A catalogue edited by María Amalia García, a historian of geometric abstraction’s trans-national networks, will include a selection of major primary texts by some of the artists, including the “Manifesto neoconcreto”(Neo-Concrete Manifesto, 1959) and Mário Pedrosa’s “Grupo Frente” (1955). Lygia Pape’s installation Ttéia 1, C, 2002, which spectacularly unfurls geometric forms into three-dimensional space, will be shown concurrently at the museum.

Daniel Quiles

Bruce Nauman, Sex and Death by Murder and Suicide, 1985, neon tubing mounted on aluminum, 78 × 78 3/8 × 12 5/8". © Bruce Nauman/ProLitteris, Zurich.

“Bruce Nauman: Disappearing Acts”

SCHAULAGER
BASEL
March 17 - August 26
Curated by Kathy Halbreich with Heidi Naef, Isabel Friedli, Magnus Schaefer, Taylor Walsh

Twenty-five years have passed since the last Nauman retrospective traversed the Western world like a rock icon on a months-long tour. This time around, the two organizing hosts—the Schaulager in Basel and the Museum of Modern Art in New York—will give a new generation the chance to see more than a half century of overwhelmingly influential work in nearly every conceivable medium. Former MoMA associate director Kathy Halbreich, who co-organized the 1993–95 caravan, leads the curatorial team in the 2018 effort, while the ambitious catalogue features contributions by no fewer than eighteen authors. In her introduction, Halbreich reports how a persistent theme of disappearance recently came to her as a way of synthesizing an oeuvre so formally, technically, and thematically disparate. A device by no means unknown to such California contemporaries as Bas Jan Ader, Chris Burden, and Allen Ruppersberg, the play of presence and absence should provide viewers, both new and veteran, with a welcome key to Nauman’s work, its consistency disguised within a brilliant accumulation of difference. Travels to MoMA and MoMA PS1, New York, October 2018–March 2019. 

Thomas Crow

Charles Atlas, Institute for Turbulence Research, 2008, four-channel video projection, color, sound, 6 minutes.

Charles Atlas

MIGROS MUSEUM FÜR GEGENWARTSKUNST
ZURICH
February 17 - May 13
Curated by Raphael Gygax

Since the 1970s, Charles Atlas has worked at the limits of video technology with a range of luminous collaborators, from choreographers such as Merce Cunningham and Michael Clark to nightlife luminaries including Leigh Bowery, Dancenoise, and, recently, the raunchy leftist drag queen Lady Bunny. The Migros Museum, however, will present five multichannel installations that represent Atlas’s interests beyond performance-based work. One gallery will juxtapose Plato’s Alley, 2008, featuring an orderly black-and-white grid, with Institute for Turbulence Research, 2008, a disorienting environment of spinning images that seems to offer an immersive update of Dorothy’s bedroom view of the twister. They’ll also show the monumental Glacier, 2013—an outlier for Atlas, as it relies on stock footage—and, as the museum mysteriously stated, “two all new pieces.” In a call to the artist, I learned that one of these, Instant Fame, 2003/2006, will involve repurposing the live-edited video portraits he made during his 2003 show at New York’s Participant Inc. The other, he said hesitantly, after a suspenseful pause, will be “something . . . with monsters.” 

Johanna Fateman

Rob Pruitt, Suicide Painting (Black No. 1), 2015, acrylic on linen, 81 × 81".

“ROB PRUITT: THE CHURCH”

KUNSTHALLE ZURICH
ZURICH
Through May 13
Curated by Daniel Baumann

In Andy Warhol’s A, A Novel from 1968, John F. Kennedy dies during church. (Americans heard the word of God and then the news that God did not exist as of 12:30 pm CST.) Warhol made sixteen widowed-Jackie portraits. It’s with the same flat promiscuity that post-Pop artist Rob Pruitt celebrates the five-hundredth anniversary of Ulrich Zwingli’s Reformation in Zurich with “The Church,”“an exhibition cum community space cum church.” Cheeky for the idolator responsible for  2011’s The Andy Monument! While sermons from theological students don’t promise the heavenly high of a cocaine buffet—or the melodrama of glossolalia—the exhibition serves as a suitably sacrilegious retrospective: twenty “Suicide Paintings,” seven “People Feeders” (“the miracle of the five loaves and two fish), and the thematically relevant installation The Congregation, 2010. I like to think the seventy-seven chairs wrapped in silver plumber’s tape pay homage to our society’s true believers, tinfoiling their windows against alien attack. Perhaps the Viagra-fountain “holy water” was nixed on account of its inherent Catholicism.

Kaitlin Phillips

Rodney Graham, Halcion Sleep, 1994, video, black-and-white, silent, 26 minutes.

RODNEY GRAHAM

IRISH MUSEUM OF MODERN ART
DUBLIN
Curated by Seán Kissane

Rodney Graham has long repudiated endings in favor of reverie-like ingresses to the past; this midcareer sampling of his work, dating from 1993 to 2017, will be a dream, almost. In the video Halcion Sleep, 1994, while drugged in the back of a car, the artist revisits both childhood memories of somnolent travel and Warhol’s Sleep. In Rheinmetall/Victoria 8, 2003, a 1961 Italian projector screens artificial snow falling on a pristine 1930s German typewriter—defunct technologies pairing to fabricate ethereality. Since 2007, in scrupulously mocked-up, hugely appealing light-box mise-en-scènes, Graham has guised himself, inter alia, as a well-heeled amateur artist perpetuating Morris Louis’s stylistics after his final show, and an old-school jazz drummer thoughtful over a steak supper. One of his own albums is titled Why Look for Good Times?, but assuredly Graham is an optimist. His oneiric fakeries always come barnacled with enigma and open-endedness, rewinding to move forward—or at least to move.

Martin Herbert