Winter Preview: Museum Shows and Biennials Around the World

Krzysztof Wodiczko, Homeless Vehicle in New York City, 1988–89, color photographs, set of six. “Brand New: Art and Commodity in the 1980s,” Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C.


Winter is usually sleepy in the art world, with few blockbuster exhibitions and even fewer major biennials, but not so for this coming season. It kicks off in December with the reopening of the Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami, and will continue to impress with the fourth edition of the New Museum Triennial, in February, and with unprecedented surveys of the American vanguard and art after the internet, in January and February, respectively. Along the way are a grand homage to Harald Szeemann, an exhibition about art and consumer culture during the 1980s, and retrospectives for Danh Vo, Kiki Smith, César, and others. Below, a look at the winter’s most notable offerings.




“The Everywhere Studio”
Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami
December 1–February 26

The Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami inaugurates its new home with “The Everywhere Studio,” an expansive group show of 100 paintings, sculptures, videos, and installations by some 50 postwar artists, from Bruce Nauman to Laure Prouvost. The show focuses loosely on contemporary riffs on a centuries-old subject: views of artistic life, practice, and thought. Consider Roy Lichtenstein’s sexy 1974 painting Artist’s Studio with Model or Carolee Schneemann’s introspective self-portraits from 1963–73, all of which feature artists reflecting on their own practices, both inside and outside the studio. —Barbara A. MacAdam

Mika Rottenberg
Bass Museum of Art, Miami
December 7–April 30

At the 2015 Venice Biennale, Mika Rottenberg caught the crowd’s attention with her video NoNoseKnows (2015), which offered a darkly comical look into the world of Chinese oyster pearl harvesting. It was a piece typical of Rottenberg, who regards globalism with deep skepticism, and it is being screened for the first time in the United States as part of this show. Also debuting will be several other videos Rottenberg has made in the past two years, including a new variant of her commission for the recent Skulptur Projekte Münster. —Robin Scher


Betye Saar, Indigo Mercy, 1975, mixed-media assemblage. “Outliers and American Vanguard Art,” National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.


“Outliers and American Vanguard Art”
National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.
January 28–May 13

Aligned with other recent attempts to reconsider suspect artist-classifying distinctions like “outsider” and “self-taught,” this highly anticipated show, curated by Lynne Cook, will feature some 250 works by canonized and comparatively underappreciated artists. Charles Sheeler, Christina Ramberg, Matt Mullican, Horace Pippin, and Janet Sobel are among those included in the exhibition. —Andy Battaglia

“Stories of Almost Everyone”
Hammer Museum, Los Angeles
January 28–May 6

You can’t believe everything you read, as the saying goes, especially when it comes to the works themselves, which often purposely include misinformation, as a way for artists to blur the line between fact and fiction. This show, curated by Aram Moshayedi with Ikechukwu Onyewuenyi, explores that phenomenon with a group of works that lure viewers in with fake stories and make them want to believe. (Consider, for example, the way Andrea Büttner has dutifully reproduced images and text from a magazine published by the German printer HAP Grieshaber. Only if you read a label would you know the work wasn’t originally Büttner’s.) Among the 30 truth-bending artists included in the show are Darren Bader, Jill Magid, Amalia Pica, and Danh Vo. —Alex Greenberger


“Harald Szeemann: Grandfather: A Pioneer Like Us”
Institute of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles
February 4–April 22

After organizing his wildly influential edition of Documenta in 1972, Szeemann—the storied Swiss Ausstellungsmacher, or exhibition maker (the term he preferred to curator)—decided that he needed to do a lighter project. Per Szeemann’s self-imposed guidelines, it had to be a show with fragile objects. He later realized it as “Grandfather,” an exhibition of his grandfather’s belongings. Glenn Phillips, the curator at the Getty Research Institute, which holds the Szeemann archives, will restage “Grandfather” at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, where he will allow viewers to adopt some advice that Szeemann gave when discussing the internet: “You have to go to the site in question in order to see if there is something behind it.” —Andrew Russeth

Juliana Huxtable, Untitled in the Rage (Nibiru Cataclysm), 2015, ink-jet print. “Art in the Age of the Internet, 1989 to Today,” Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston.


“Art in the Age of the Internet, 1989 to Today”
Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston
February 7–May 20

It’s difficult to imagine today’s art world without the internet, which has revolutionized just about every medium, transforming painting styles, filmmaking techniques, and sculptural strategies. Curated by Eva Respini with Jeffrey De Blois, this survey looks first at some of the earliest adopters of digital technology—Lynn Hershman Leeson and Nam June Paik among them—and moves on to recent work by today’s most exciting young artists, including Camille Henrot, Josh Kline, and Martine Syms. —A.G.

“Before Projection: Video Sculpture 1975–1995”
MIT List Visual Arts Center, Cambridge, Massachusetts
February 8–April 15

In the 1970s, showing video art didn’t mean simply putting in a tape and playing it on a monitor. Video appeared inset in staircases, hidden in small models of castles, and even, in a few extreme cases, affixed to nude bodies. The possibilities were seemingly endless: Nam June Paik created oversize portraits of people with monitors for heads, hands, and feet; Dara Birnbaum placed TVs on opposite sides of a room, like two cowboys facing off in a Western. This exhibition surveys two decades of rich experimentation with video, and includes work by those artists as well as pieces by Shigeko Kubota, Takahiko Iimura, Diana Thater, and others. —A.G.

Danh Vo
Guggenheim Museum, New York
February 9–May 9

Ever the conceptualist, the Vietnamese-Danish artist Vo has married and divorced would-be partners for the sake of taking their names, and otherwise works with myriad mediums to engage thematic concerns that link the personal with the universal. The Guggenheim’s spiraling rotunda will play home to the first comprehensive survey of his work by way of his past 15 years’ output, including new pieces conceived for the occasion. Spanning Vo’s early conceptual activities, thematic installations, and sculptural forays, the presentation will also include his photographs and works on paper to suggest a portrait of the artist and his political, social, and humanistic comportment; it is organized by Guggenheim curator Katherine Brinson and assistant curator Susan Thompson. —A.B.

Danh Vo, She was more like a beauty queen from a movie scene, 2009, mixed media.


“New Museum Triennial: Songs for Sabotage”
New Museum, New York
February 13–May 27

Details on the New Museum’s fourth triennial, titled “Songs for Sabotage,” are scant, but the curatorial team and the artist list are known. ICA Miami chief curator Alex Gartenfeld and New Museum curator Gary Carrion-Murayari are organizing this year’s show, with an emphasis on emerging artists, among them Janiva Ellis, Diamond Stingily, and Wong Ping. Neither of the curators is a stranger to collaboration—Carrion-Murayari worked with Francesco Bonami on the 2010 Whitney Biennial, while Gartenfeld ran the apartment space West Street Gallery with Matt Moravec before starting at the ICA in 2013. This will be the first triennial to take place at the museum since it expanded into a neighboring building earlier this year. —John Chiaverina

General Idea, The Boutique of the 1984 Miss General Idea Pavillion, 1980, galvanized metal and plexiglass, prints, posters, publications. “Brand New: Art and Commodity in the 1980s,” Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C.


“Brand New: Art and Commodity in the 1980s”
Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C.
February 14–May 13

This survey focuses on a group of artists based in New York’s East Village neighborhood, who, during the 1980s, began using ready-made consumer objects in their practices. Pioneers included Jeff Koons and Haim Steinbach. Their Pop-inspired work often took the form of slick, glossy installations that put mass-market goods and high design on equal footing. The style was its own undoing: By the end of the ’80s, artworks were becoming market objects in their own right. As Koons himself once put it, “A lot of my work is about sales. And it was about being independent from the art market.” The operative word: “was.” —A.G.

“Howardena Pindell: What Remains to Be Seen”
Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago
February 24–May 20

Few artists can lay claim to having influenced as many areas of art history as Howardena Pindell, whose 1970s paintings are essential examples of postwar abstraction and whose 1980s activist projects have influenced a host of younger artists. Since Pindell is only now receiving her due, at age 74, “What Remains to Be Seen” is an accurate subtitle for her retrospective. Curated by Naomi Beckwith and Valerie Cassel Oliver, this show will include five decades’ worth of Pindell’s paintings, videos, writings, and photographs. —A.G.

“Paper Promises: Early American Photography”
J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
February 27–May 27

“Only photography has been able to divide human life into a series of moments, each of them has the value of a complete existence,” photographer Eadweard Muybridge once said. It was true: the advent of photography changed everyday life. This exhibition surveys the way that early photography altered 19th-century American culture, fanning the flames of political trends—consider, for example, the way images of Native Americans have incited stereotypes that are only now being undone—and also forever making genres like portraiture and landscapes different. Key in this were new methods of reproduction, specifically ones that made for easier printing on paper, which allowed for better circulation of photographs. —A.G.

Alexander Apóstol, Destacado, 2017.




“Kumagai Morikazu: The Joy of Life”
National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo
December 1–March 21

With his attention to detail and commitment to experimenting with different production methods, Morikazu was essential to the growth of a modern art scene in Japan. Forty years after his death, Morikazu is getting a proper retrospective. On view are some 200 paintings, documents, diaries, and sketches that illuminate the process behind his minimalist, brightly colored paintings of nature. —Grace Halio

Alexander Apóstol
Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires, Buenos Aires
December 12—February 19

For a newly commissioned work involving mathematics, Venezuelan conceptual artist Alexander Apóstol will explore the way art and politics relate to each other. “Tucumán arde,” a two-city exhibition staged by Argentinian artists in 1968, will be a reference point for Apóstol, who will question the ways in which an artist working today can begin a discussion about today’s political moment by looking to the past. Alongside the new work, titled Acciones, palabras, imágenes, redes (a partir de Tucumán arde), Apóstol will show a selection of his older pieces. —Maximilíano Durón

César, Compression murale, 1975.


Centre Pompidou, Paris
December 13–March 26

All the other major Nouveaux Réalistes have had retrospectives at the Centre Pompidou, including Arman, Martial Raysse, and Niki de Saint Phalle. But not César Baldaccini. This exhibition, timed to the 20th anniversary of the sculptor’s death, rectifies that oversight. More than 100 works spanning his career will show him moving back and forth between classical and modernist modes. César (best known by his first name) had his first solo gallery show in 1954. He made a foundational series of “Compressions” and “Expansions,” enlisting crushed metals for the former and substances like polyurethane foam for the latter. With those and work that followed, he transfigured mere materials into means for lasting art. —A.B.

“Rob Pruitt: The Church”
Kunsthalle Zurich, Zurich
December 16–May 13

Rob Pruitt’s latest exhibition will celebrate the five-hundredth anniversary of Ulrich Zwingli’s Reformation by transforming the Kunsthalle Zurich into a space for contemplation and congregation. On Sundays, the museum will host services delivered by the Theological Seminary of the University of Zurich; other activities will include concerts, workshops, and the artist Philip Matesic’s discussion platform “Theory Tuesdays.” Alongside these festivities, Pruitt’s polychromatic “Suicide Paintings”—which turn Photoshop-like gradients into colorful abstractions—will be on view, as well as his aptly named 2010 installation of tin-foil wrapped chairs, The Congregation. —R.S.


Kader Attia
The Power Plant, Toronto
January 27–May 13

In his videos, installations, and sculptures, Attia explores the ways in which communities can heal themselves from traumatic experiences through medicine, music, psychoanalysis, and architecture. This will be the French-Algerian artist’s first show in Canada, and the new installation he has produced is site-specific in more sense than one. Not only does it respond to the Power Plant’s architecture, it also responds to the idea of repair in Canadian history. The exhibition will travel to the Contemporary Arts Center in Cincinnati. —R.S.


Kiki Smith, Virgin Mary, 1992.


“Kiki Smith: Procession”
Haus der Kunst, Munich
February 2–June 3

Hot on the heels of an impressive showing at the Venice Biennale, the New York–based sculptor will have a career-spanning retrospective organized by scholar Petra Giloy-Hirtz. This will be Smith’s first museum show in a decade in Germany, where she was born. It stretches from her potent and painful work of the 1980s and ’90s, which addresses bodies under threat from AIDS and societal violence—as in Daisy Chain (1992), in which arms, legs, and a head are interconnected by chains—to more recent efforts that engage ideas of mythology and spirituality in a panoply of mediums, such as the bronze Born (2002), in which a woman grows out of the back of a deer. —A.R.

Susan Meiselas
Jeu de Paume, Paris
February 5–May 20

In 1976, shortly after publishing her seminal series “Carnival Strippers,” which featured raw, intimate portraits of young women who ran away from home to become strippers, Meiselas joined the legendary photography collective Magnum Photos. Since then, she has traveled the world, photographing things as disparate as war zones in Nicaragua and Kurdistan and cityscapes in the American Midwest. Her first retrospective in France will survey her four-decade career, from her early work through her newest series, “A Room of Their Own,” which looks at the effects of domestic violence on women. —M.D.

Neïl Beloufa
Palais de Tokyo, Paris
February 16–May 13

Neïl Beloufa’s work has already received a proper showcase at the Palais de Tokyo, in 2012, when the young French-Algerian artist turned the museum’s cavernous basement galleries into three film sets. Since then, his work has memorably appeared around the world, notably last summer at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, where Beloufa’s rigorous video installations about surveillance and the digital sphere impressed. Now he returns once more to the Palais de Tokyo with a show called “The Enemy of My Enemy.” Little is known about the show, but if it is anything like Beloufa’s past exhibitions, it will include work that meditates on the slim divides between fantasy and reality, and between made-up and true identities online. —A.G.

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