ED RUSCHA / NOW THEN
Museum of Modern Art, 10 September 2023-13 January 2024
Ed Ruscha’s six-decade career has cemented his status as a Pop Art pioneer, as this full-scale Museum of Modern Art retrospective will attest. Co-organised with the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, it features more than 200 works across a wide range of media, demonstrating his knack for material experimentation and continual reinvention. Ruscha left Oklahoma in 1956, travelling along interstate highway 66 to go study commercial art in Los Angeles, California, where popular culture and Americana became central tenets of his signature style. ED RUSCHA / NOW THEN tracks the artist’s creative arc from his text-forward post-war landscapes to lesser-known, experimental works that make use of elements like gunpowder and—in his rarely exhibited 1970 installation Chocolate Room—chocolate. His spare visual poetics and keen sense for commercial imagery make Ruscha a uniquely American voice in contemporary art history. T.A.
Ruth Asawa Through Line
Whitney Museum of American Art, 16 September 2023-15 January 2024
Ruth Asawa (1926-2013) may be best known for her hanging wire sculptures, but the great artistic constant throughout her life—the through line, if you will—was her daily drawing practice. This exhibition, co-organised by the Whitney and the Menil Collection in Houston (where it will travel next year), brings together more than 100 works on paper, spanning drawings, sketchbooks, watercolours, works made with stamps, paper sculptures and sketches of intricate patterns that she would then render three-dimensionally in wire. These works, organised thematically, span Asawa’s studies at Black Mountain College—where her instructors included Josef Albers, Merce Cunningham and Buckminster Fuller—in the 1940s to her work as an educator in San Francisco decades later. Her drawings “remind us to seek moments of wonder in our daily lives”, Kim Conaty, the Whitney’s curator of drawings and prints and a co-organiser of the exhibition, said in a statement. “The curly leaves of an endive, the pattern of a quilt wrapped around a young child or the abstract movements of a dancer—all of these subjects, in Asawa’s expert hand, are rendered extraordinary.” B.S.
Max Beckmann: The Formative Years, 1915-1925
Neue Galerie, 5 October 2023-15 January 2024
This major exhibition on German artist Max Beckmann—the Neue Galerie’s first after the museum reopens following a brief summer closure—will examine the shift in Beckmann’s work during the decade following the First World War. It was during this time that Beckmann graduated from his initial Impressionistic style to the Neue Sachlichkeit, or New Objectivity, that he would come to be associated with in his later years. After Beckmann’s brief involvement in the war as a volunteer nurse and medical orderly, his compositions became more violent and featured angular forms, dark colour palettes and subdued use of paint. In all, the exhibition will bring together around 100 works by Beckmann, including paintings, drawings and prints on loan from museums and private collections across the US and Europe. C.P.
Shary Boyle: Outside the Palace of Me
Museum of Arts and Design, 23 September 2023-25 February 2024
Shary Boyle, who was the subject of the Canadian pavilion at the 2013 Venice Biennale, takes the adage “teamwork makes the dream work” to a surreal extreme. For this exhibition of new pieces, she collaborated with an astonishing cross-section of specialists, ranging from a robotics engineer and an amusement-park pioneer to a costume designer and an acrylic-nail artist. The resulting works are even more eclectic and engaging. A human-sized automaton? Check. A kinetic sculpture activated by coins like a carnival attraction? Ditto. A museum space transformed into a quasi-theatre through architectural additions? You will find it here. Boyle’s creations investigate how and why we become who we believe ourselves to be, as individuals and as groups. The aim is inherently political, but politics in the art world are rarely this much fun. T.S.
María Magdalena Campos-Pons: Behold
Brooklyn Museum, 15 September 2023-14 January 2024
A joint effort between the Brooklyn Museum and J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles, María Magdalena Campos-Pons: Behold presents more than 40 multimedia works by the Cuban-born, Nashville-based artist spanning almost 40 years. Exploring migration, diaspora, colonialism, memory, intersectional feminism and Santería through photography, video, painting, installation and performance (at times in collaboration with her husband, the musician Neil Leonard), Campos-Pons flips the power dynamic between artist and subject, replacing voyeurism with “a careful act of beholding”—an empathy informed, in part, by her own history of migration and her ancestors’ enslavement and indentured servitude. On 16 September, a daylong symposium will celebrate the show’s opening with poetry, conversation and roundtables with Cheryl Finley, Pamela Sneed, Carrie Mae Weems and others, as well as a new processional performance by Campos-Pons herself. (Following its run in Brooklyn, the exhibition will tour museums in North Carolina, Tennessee and California starting next year.) E.G.
Ali Cherri: Humble and quiet and soothing as mud
Swiss Institute, 13 September 2023-7 January 2024
Ali Cherri’s first solo exhibition in the US represents a next step and a look back, both literally grounded in earth. A newly commissioned installation combines mud-bodied sculptures and kinetic lighting to reinterpret the Sumerian epic of Gilgamesh, the mythical king who defied the gods to pursue the secret of eternal life. The sculptures bear faces made of (allegedly) ancient masks and fragments of artefacts purchased by Cherri at auction, surfacing tensions between legend, history and commerce. One floor above is Of Men and Gods and Mud (2022), the three-channel film installation that propelled him to the 2022 Venice Biennale’s Silver Lion for a promising young participant in the central exhibition. Set at the Merowe Dam, a hydroelectric project whose construction displaced more than 50,000 residents of northern Sudan, the work follows a seasonal brickmaker who channels supernatural life into a large mud figure embodying his comrades’ strife. T.S.
Judy Chicago: Herstory
New Museum, 12 October 2023-14 January 2024
The first comprehensive survey of Judy Chicago’s work in New York, Herstory will explore six decades of the seminal feminist artist’s practice across three floors of the New Museum. In addition to her paintings, sculptures, installations drawings, textiles, photographs, stained glass, needlework and printmaking, the show will feature what the New Museum calls an “exhibition-within-the-exhibition” that highlights other women artists, writers and cultural figures throughout history. The exhibition will feature works and archival materials from some 80 women, including Hilma af Klint, Artemisia Gentileschi, Frida Kahlo, Georgia O’Keeffe, Simone de Beauvoir and Virginia Woolf. This approach invites comparisons with Chicago’s canonical work, The Dinner Party (1974–79)—on permanent display at the Brooklyn Museum—in that it is creating and holding space for women whose contributions have too often been omitted from official narratives. C.P.
Barkley L. Hendricks: Portraits at the Frick
Frick Collection, 21 September 2023-7 January 2024
In 1966, Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts undergraduate student Barkley L. Hendricks (1945-2017) received a scholarship to travel to Europe, and the art he saw on that three-month journey would transform his approach to painting. Specifically, he was struck by “how limited the representation of Black figures has been in Western art history”. The paintings he made in response, which form the core of this show at the Frick’s temporary Brutalist home, are formal portraits of Black sitters, many of them the artist’s friends and relatives. Hendricks portrayed his subjects in rich detail with oil paints, often setting them against bold, monochromatic backdrops painted in acrylic, adding extra dimensionality and weight to the sitter. Hendricks’s decision to apply traditional European portrait-painting conventions to depicting contemporary Black American figures paved the way for artists like Kehinde Wiley, Derrick Adams and Mickalene Thomas to pursue similar projects. At the Frick, his paintings will be displayed near similarly Modern works by James McNeill Whistler to underline how both artists used spare backdrops to heighten the physicality of their subjects. B.S.
Metropolitan Museum of Art, 24 September 2023-7 January 2024
The Metropolitan Museum of Art is granting visitors a contemplative look into one of the most significant dialogues in art history—the storied and often-troubled connection between artists Édouard Manet and Edgar Degas. Born just two years apart, the friends and sometimes-rivals defined modern painting both in their native France and beyond, staking a claim on visual culture that remains peerless in its influence today. Through more than 150 paintings and works on paper, Manet/Degas commemorates two titans of their craft, investigating points of overlap and divergence in their relationships, artistic objectives and intellectual pursuits. Organised in tandem with the Musées d’Orsay et de l’Orangerie in Paris, the show seeks to provide new insights into the lived experiences of these two legendary painters and their legacies. T.A.
Only the Young: Experimental Art in Korea, 1960s-1970s
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, 1 September 2023-7 January 2024
In the aftermath of the Korean War, as a newly established South Korea struggled with authoritarian leaders and burgeoning social movements, Korean artists manoeuvred a novel landscape that was urbanising and modernising rapidly. Organising various art collectives (Korean Avant Garde Association, Space and Time, the Fourth Group), they experimented with photography, sculpture, painting, Minimalism, abstraction, performance, video art and installation, significantly contributing to the creation of a uniquely Korean contemporary art scene. Only the Young, co-organised with the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Korea, is the first North American museum show on Korean Experimental art (silheom misul), presenting around 80 works by more than 20 of the most groundbreaking artists of the time—including Ha Chong-Hyun, Jung Kangja, Kim Kulim, Lee Kang-so, Park Hyunki and Sung Neung Kyung. (Only the Young will travel to the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles next year.) E.G.