There is much to look forward to this year in terms of exhibitions and openings. I was recently asked by The Art Newspaper to write about the events I am most eagerly anticipating, and have expanded upon that here. At their most successful, exhibitions can change the way we think—not only about the art on show, but about ourselves and our history. Here are several openings that I think have the potential to do just that.
Bruce Nauman at the Schaulager, Basel, and MoMA, New York
An artistic giant who captured the complex psychology of our times with the greatest range and precision but is nonetheless somewhat invisible to a new generation: his last major retrospective was at the Walker Art Center of Minneapolis in 1994.
Nauman’s impact on the art of the past 50 years places him at the apex of influence over both the form and content of Contemporary art. For decades, every new work he exhibited was a cause to pause and see our world from a new angle. Yet he has faded from the focus of today’s art world since, in recent years, his artistic production has been relatively infrequent and of a more introspective nature; there have been no major shows; and there has not been enough significant work on to market for a new generation of collectors to understand how important an artist he is.
It is both apt and poetically just that, as the 76-year old artist is now much closer to his end than his beginning, this first significant retrospective in almost 25 years will be mounted by one of the few curators who could rise to the task: Kathy Halbreich, who organized the great Walker retrospective.
“Bruce Nauman: Disappearing Acts” at the Schaulager (17 March–26 August) and MoMA (21 October–17 March 2019)
Dorothea Rockburne at Dia: Beacon, New York
The art world has been awfully busy, finally, re-examining the work of the many women artists who were overlooked during their lifetimes. Less attention has been paid to the female artists whose importance was recognized at the time but since been forgotten.
Dorothea Rockburne is one of the most significant, rigorous and inventive artists of the late 1960s and 1970s. She is up there with Richard Serra in terms of re-envisioning what art can be, creating work during those critical years in which art was challenged, dissected, beaten up and reconfigured.
“Dorothea Rockburne” at Dia: Beacon (opens April)
Joan Jonas at Tate Modern, London and Haus der Kunst, Munich
One of the most respected performance artists for more than five decades, Joan Jonas is nonetheless little known and even less understood. I eagerly await the major retrospective of this artist (who is part-wizard, part-good-witch, part-poet and part-seer—and also a magical sculptor), which should do nothing less than redefine our conceptions of creativity.
“Joan Jonas” at Tate Modern (14 March-5 August) and Haus der Kunst (11 September-3 March 2019)
Beatriz González, various venues, Europe
We have been programed to view the Pop of the provinces and beyond as derivative of the movement as we have known it, and its mostly New York-based masters. However, in some places, Pop was intentionally adopted as a pre-packaged style of cartoonish imagery, bold colors and content focused on celebrity, consumerism and the artifice of contemporary life. It enabled artists in countries where freedom of speech was a dangerous pursuit to make social and political commentary, veiled as frivolous fun.
Among the greatest examples is the work by the phenomenal Colombian artist Beatriz González who is known for her tough political Pop and, in more recent years, for her contemporary take on social realism.
“Beatriz González: Retrospective 1965-2017” at CAPC Museum of Contemporary Art, Bordeaux (until 25 Feburary), Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid (22 March-2 September) and KW Institute of Contemporary Art, Berlin (12 October-16 December)
Sotheby’s Prize winners, various venues, North America
This, of course, is the year in which the first of the Sotheby’s Prize exhibitions open. The four shows opening later this year—including “Pop América” (McNay Art Museum, San Antonio, October, and Nasher Museum of Art, Duke University, 21 February-21 July 2019); “Ree Morton: The Plant That Heals May Also Poison” (ICA, University of Pennsylvania, September-December); “Augusta Savage: Artist-Community-Activist” (Cummer Museum, Jacksonville, October-April 2019); Native North America (Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, 6 October-7 January 2019)—each promise to change the game.
For more details, see here
Tacita Dean, various venues, London
Few artists create such enigmatic views of the details of the natural and constructed worlds. There are so many of Dean’s works that I find memorable and moving, oftentimes without knowing exactly why (nor feeling the need to fully understand, either). This three-venue exhibition focuses on her portrait, landscape and still-life work and will no doubt result in numerous profound experiences.
“Tacita Dean: Portrait” at the National Portrait Gallery (15 March-28 May); “Still Life” at the National Gallery (15 March-28 May); “Landscape” at the Royal Academy (dates to be announced)
Danh Vo at the Guggenheim, New York
One of the most compelling artists to have emerged in recent decades, Danh Vo reveals a little bit more about the gentle but strong complexity with which he dissects and reanimates cultural and political history with each new body of work.
Too often, it is possible to know what an artist’s retrospective will look like before it is mounted. That is not the case with Vo. I suspect that, through this first major survey, we will just begin to understand his work and his cultural importance.
“Danh Vo: Take My Breath Away” at the Guggenheim Museum (9 February–9 May)
Glenstone Museum, Potomac, Maryland
The most thoughtful, ambitious and precise museum collection of post-war art to be assembled in our time by the collectors Mitch and Emily Rales, and the exquisite new facility they are building for it, is slated to open to the public later this year. This museum should set a model for private collectors and public institutions alike.
Glenstone Museum expansion (late 2018)