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“The Allure of Matter: Material Art from China”

through January 5, 2020
“Material art, the expression of a concept or idea based on a specific substance, gained traction in China at the turn of the current century. In this exhibition, art historian and curator Wu Hung brings together thirty-five examples of the form from the past four decades.”
Image: Lin Tianmiao, Day-Dreamer, 2000, cotton thread, white fabric, digital photograph. Copyright © Lin Tianmiao, photo courtesy of the artist.

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EDITORS’ PICKS

through September 9, 2019 ((Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona, Oct. 18, 2019–Mar. 8, 2020; Kunstsammlung Nordrhein Westfalen, Düsseldorf, Apr. 4–Aug. 20, 2020; Musée d’Art Moderne Grand-Duc Jean, Luxembourg, Oct. 2, 2020–Jan. 10, 2021)

German Minimalist Charlotte Posenenske (1930–1985) made art for a mere twelve years—she would later become a sociologist—but in that time she produced an influential body of work. Her space-filling, infinitely adjustable modular sculptures, composed of sheet metal or cardboard, were designed to be easily and cheaply reproduced. They reflected her position that art should not be a luxury, but an affordable, functional product that customers could make their own. Posenenske’s first US retrospective comprises original prototypes, drawings, wall reliefs, and over one hundred newly fabricated elements from the artist’s various sculpture series.

Image: Charlotte Posenenske, Vierkantrohre Series DW (Square Tubes Series DW), 1967/2018. Installation view, Dia:Beacon, Beacon, New York. Copyright © Estate of Charlotte Posenenske, Frankfurt. Photo: Bill Jacobson Studio, New York, courtesy Dia Art Foundation, New York.
Through September 1, 2019.

Is there a distinctive black aesthetic? How should art relate to a systematically oppressed community? Are figuration and abstraction equally valid? Should African American artists aim to succeed in the established (and overwhelmingly white) art world, or should they create their own uncompromised alternatives? Given events such as the Watts Rebellion in 1965, should work that is not socially engaged be dismissed as “irrelevant”? These are among the urgent questions faced by black artists in the tumultuous 1963–83 period covered by “Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power.” Presenting roughly 150 works by sixty artists, along with documentary photographs and ephemera, the show traces the many variations in black artistic practice between the civil rights era and the heyday of the Black Power movement. Along the way, it investigates black feminism, the extensive use of murals, collectives such as Spiral and AfriCOBRA, black-owned galleries, The Black Panther illustrations, and other related topics. Participants include celebrated figures like Romare Bearden, Norman Lewis, Betye Saar, Jack Whitten, Lorraine O’Grady, David Hammons, Faith Ringgold, and Noah Purifoy, as well as still under-known artists like Randy Williams and Elizabeth Catlett.

Image: Barkley L. Hendricks, Icon for My Man Superman (Superman Never Saved any Black People—Bobby Seale), 1969, oil, acrylic and aluminum leaf on linen canvas, 59 1/2 x 48 inches. Collection of Liz and Eric Lefkofsky. Copyright © Estate of Barkley L. Hendricks. Courtesy of Jack Shainman Gallery, New York.
through September 15, 2019

Born in Chicago, Elizabeth Murray (1940–2007) moved to New York in 1967. There, at a moment when some had declared painting dead, she became one of a heterogeneous group of artists—among them Jack Whitten, Mary Heilmann, Brice Marden, and Ron Gorchov—reinvigorating the medium. This show, the first institutional exhibition of Murray’s work in the UK, brings together a selection of her breakthrough multidimensional, multi-panel pieces of the 1980s and early 1990s. Employing canvas stretched over shaped supports and combining figuration with abstraction, these idiosyncratic—and often monumental—constructions drew from, among other sources, Cubism, Surrealism, early Modernist and Pop art, Abstract Expressionism, and cartooning. On view are paintings like Wake Up (1981) with its fractured image of a coffee cup; Bean, Summer (1982), featuring a cartoonish, comma-like form; and the colorful, biomorphic Sandpaper Fate (1992–93), as well as drawings and prints from the same period.

Image: Elizabeth Murray, Sandpaper Fate, 1992-93, oil on canvas, three parts, overall installation dimensions: 104 x 102 x 10 inches. Collection of the Murray-Holman Family Trust, courtesy Pace Gallery, New York. Copyright © The Murray-Holman Family Trust / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / DACS 2019.
through August 25, 2019

Taking her cue from the fragmented narratives of French New Wave cinema and “new novel” literature of the 1960s, New York-based artist Barbara Probst uses radio-controlled cameras to photograph her subjects simultaneously from several vantage points. The result is a multiplicity of perspectives on a single action or scene. A series of four photographs, for example, shows a man crossing a street from every corner of the intersection. In a nearby diptych, a man and a woman sitting side by side are captured by adjacent cameras. By presenting quite different renderings of the same moment in time, these pieces—like the rest of the works in this exhibition—suggest an infinity of additional views, challenging  the authority of photographic “truth.”

Image: Barbara Probst, Exposure #31, NYC, 249 W 34th Street, 01.02.05, 4:41 p.m., 2005. Copyright © ADAGP.

VOICES

Art in America talks to artists, curators, and other leading figures in the art world.

DIRECTOR SPOTLIGHT: Mary Ceruti (Walker Art Center, Minneapolis) on Education

“How do museums produce knowledge and meaning in dialogue with their constituencies, rather than simply acting as presenters?” Read More »

DIRECTOR SPOTLIGHT: Jennifer Doyle, Luke Fischbeck, Shoghig Halajian, and Eric Kim (Human Resources Los Angeles) on Inclusivity

“I would say that our programming is based as much on the idea of generosity, of curating as a form of hospitality, as on aesthetic judgment. In fact, I see that generosity as itself an aesthetic commitment that perhaps sets us apart.” Read More »

DIRECTOR SPOTLIGHT: Polly Staple (Chisenhale Gallery, London) on Value

“Value might not necessarily be measured by the number of people you can get in the door. It could be measured by the quality or depth of the work you are doing—in our case, supporting artists at a critical moment in their careers.” Read More »

DIRECTOR SPOTLIGHT: Mélanie Bouteloup (Bétonsalon, Paris) on Hybrid Spaces

“We strongly believe in the generative potential of spaces where heterogeneous—and even conflicting—practices and positions can come together.” Read More »

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HIGHLIGHTS FROM OUR SISTER PUBLICATIONS

Jean-Michel Basquiat, The Death of Michael Stewart, 1983, acrylic and marker on sheet rock, 34 by 40 inches. Collection Nina Clemente, New York. Copyright (c) Estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat. Licensed by Artestar, New York.

Black Ghosts: Basquiat’s “Defacement” at the Guggenheim

By Tiana Reid
There is no way the show would have been possible without Black Lives Matter, and the discussions around state violence and blackness that the movement mainstreamed. . . READ MORE
Façade of original town house of the Museum of Modern Art at 11 West 53rd Street. Courtesy Museum of Modern Art, New York.

The Artist Wasn’t Present: On MoMA’s Fumbled First Showing of Black American Art

By Charlotte Barat and Darby English
It was 1934, almost five years after the Museum of Modern Art’s founding, before the work of a black American artist was exhibited there. . . READ MORE

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