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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.

Cliff Hengst, My New Reality, 2016, Flashe paint and acrylic on canvas, 66 × 44". From “Tag: Proposals on Queer Play and the Ways Forward.”

“Tag: Proposals on Queer Play and The Ways Forward”

ICA - INSTITUTE OF CONTEMPORARY ART, PHILADELPHIA
PHILADELPHIA
February 2 - August 12
Curated by Nayland Blake with Kate Kraczon

This winter, the ICA will assemble a motley crew of artists who navigate identity politics with more than a dozen works in video, installation, photography, sculpture, painting, and performance, hinting that the ever-thorny topic requires not just a multiplicity of voices but diversity in media and approach. Featured among these will be A. K. Burns’s video installation Living Room, 2017–, in which A. L. Steiner, nude save for a head wrap, slumps over the edge of a white tub (riffing on Jacques-Louis David’s Death of Marat, 1793). A handful of text-based paintings by Cliff Hengst will also be on display, including one composition that declares: 49 YRS OLD / HIV+20 YRS / FAT & FKD UP (Fat and Fucked Up, 2015). Arnold Joseph Kemp will be represented by HEADLESS, 2016, a sculpture consisting of a pair of metallic-silver Fred Flintstone masks skewered by a forked metal frame. Savannah Knoop (the artist formerly known as JT LeRoy) and Robert Yang (a specialist in homoerotic video games), among others, will also enter the fray.

Jackie Neudorf

Lucio Fontana, Struttura al neon per la IX Triennale di Milano (Neon Structure for the 9th Milan Triennial), 1951, crystal tube, neon. Installation view, Palazzo dell’Arte, Milan.

“LUCIO FONTANA: ENVIRONMENTS”

PIRELLI HANGARBICOCCA
MILAN
Through February 25
Curated by Marina Pugliese, Barbara Ferriani, and Vicente Todolí

Most art-world denizens know Fontana as the maker of punctured and slashed monochrome canvases that seem to embody the nihilism and lingering violence of the postwar discourse on gesture. Few conoscenti, however, have closely read Fontana’s manifestos on Spatialism, which contextualize his plastic works as research into space, light, technology, and the cosmos. Fewer still have experienced his Spatial Environments, the immersive installations that occupied much of his last decade. In collaboration with the Fondazione Lucio Fontana, this show will reconstruct nine such environments at full scale, many for the first time since the 1960s. Filling the HangarBicocca’s industrial nave with labyrinths of light, mirrors, fluorescent paint, and rubber floors, this historic exhibition promises a rare opportunity to plunge into the mature work of one of the twentieth century’s most electrifying artists.

Elizabeth Mangini

“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

Mario Fiorentino’s Monumento alle Fosse Ardeatine (Monument to the Victims of Fosse Ardeatine), 1947, Rome. From “Zevi’s Architects: History and Counter-History from Postwar to the End of the 20th Century.”

“Zevi’s Architects: History and Counter-History from Postwar to the End of the 20th Century”

MAXXI - MUSEO NAZIONALE DELLE ARTI DEL XXI SECOLO
ROME
April 20 - October 21
Curated by Jean-Louis Cohen and Pippo Ciorra

This exhibition revisits the work of the Italian architectural writer Bruno Zevi and, through his eyes, some lesser-known corners of postwar Italian architecture and discourse. Internationally, Zevi is known as a popularizer of Frank Lloyd Wright and an advocate for “organicism.” In Italy, he was for decades a ubiquitous and unapologetic (sometimes grating) critical voice near to saturating the media with a newspaper column, a television show, a journal, a professorship, numerous books, and a government position. Curators Jean-Louis Cohen and Pippo Ciorra have divided the show’s contents into three categories—buildings, texts, and biographical artifacts. Of greatest interest will be the selection of more than thirty—five structures by Italian designers Zevi championed for their self-assured manipulations of fragmented forms and complex geometries. Whether the myth of organicism emerges shattered or reinforced, the exhibition should inspire anyone seeking precursors to the formal complexity of contemporary digital architecture and instruct those hoping that an architectural critic can hold sway as a public intellectual today.

Lucia Allais

Thomas Struth

ASPEN ART MUSEUM
ASPEN, COLORADO
Through June 10
Curated by Heidi Zuckerman

Whether homing in on grand museum galleries, prosaic city streets, intimate family gatherings, or elaborate mechanical devices, Thomas Struth’s gaze has long been trained on the component structures and environments of human sociality. But for all the submerged complications filling Struth’s images of the Louvre’s halls and NASA's research facilities, can these sites hold a candle to the thicket of conflict and history that defines contemporary Israel and Palestine? This is the question driving the Aspen Art Museum’s exhibition of eighteen photographs Struth shot over a series of visits to the region between 2009 and 2014, comprising a pair of intimate family portraits as well as sixteen monumental landscapes of East Jerusalem, the Golan Heights, Ramallah, Hebron/Al-Khalil, Nazareth, and the Negev. The Aspen show promises a unique opportunity to see the region’s tensions—and Struth’s own work—in newly sharpened focus.

Graham Bader

“UGO RONDINONE: THE WORLD JUST MAKES ME LAUGH”

BERKELEY ART MUSEUM AND PACIFIC FILM ARCHIVE (BAMPFA)
BERKELEY, CALIFORNIA
Curated by Lawrence Rinder

Over the past three decades, the Swiss artist Ugo Rondinone, an Alpine mystic of sorts, has gained international attention for a dizzying array of works in nearly every medium imaginable, bound by a humanist undercurrent. “The world just makes me laugh,” the artist’s first major show in the Bay Area, is the penultimate stop of a five-part “serial exhibition” that had previous iterations in Rotterdam, Rome, and Cincinnati, each installation featuring its own catalogue. This latest  manifestation will feature both iconic Rondinone works and more recent ones—figurative sculptures of clowns in blissful repose, thousands of rainbow drawings made by children over the course of the traveling exhibition—no doubt offering a spirited reprieve from our pessimistic moment. Travels to the Bass, Miami, fall 2017.

Beau Rutland