As Labor Day fast approaches, so does the art world’s back-to-school season, which is about to kick off with an annual abundance of blockbuster museum exhibitions, hotly anticipated gallery shows, can’t-miss performances, and long-awaited book releases.
To help us plan our calendars and choose our bedside reading, we spoke to three leading art world women—Esther Kim Varet, the founder and director of Various Small Fires; Brinda Kumar, assistant curator at the Met; and Justine Ludwig, executive director of Creative Time—to learn about what they are most excited for in the upcoming season.
Esther Kim Varet
Founder and Director of Various Small Fires
“With Pleasure: Pattern and Decoration in American Art 1972–1985“
Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles
October 27, 2019–May 11, 2020
I’ve been following the development of this exhibition over the past few years. Anna Katz, the show’s curator, had reached out to the gallery [Various Small Fires] about including Billy Al Bengston’s hanging mobiles from the 1970s. This exhibition will be the first full-scale scholarly survey of the Pattern and Decoration American art movement, bringing together over 50 artists who embodied its “defiant embrace of forms traditionally coded as feminine, domestic, ornamental, or craft-based, and thought to be categorically inferior to fine art.” I mean, how appropriate is it that we are “rediscovering” this movement in the here-and-now of 2019 when so many of these ideas have come back to the forefront of contemporary practices? A formidable survey catalogue, published by Yale, is also forthcoming, which I am absolutely looking forward to getting my hands on.
Performa 19, New York
November 1–24, 2019
Performa’s founder, RoseLee Goldberg, actually introduced me to my husband. He was on RoseLee’s board at the time, so this Biennial is one that continues to be very special to us even from the West Coast. A highlight for sure will be Korakrit Arunanondchai’s commission.
We threw a party with Korakrit at [the gallery in] Los Angeles a few months ago where we previewed and screened his most recent video works for the Venice Biennial and the Whitney Biennial. At the end of the event, Korakrit did an impromptu musical performance for the crowd that was electrifying beyond words. That was probably just a sneak peak of what Korakrit can deliver in the live-art realm with powerful support like Performa’s behind him. For Performa 19, Korakrit is building a film and sound set for performers, musicians, and projections that will investigate recent events in Thailand, contemporary Buddhism, and pop culture.
Los Angeles County Museum of Art
November 3, 2019–May 17, 2020
I’ve been spending a lot of time with Christine Y. Kim, the co-curator of the exhibition, as we’ve been organizing a benefit this fall for Gyopo, an organization of Korean-American art professionals based here in LA. Christine, via LACMA, will co-organize this first mid-career survey by Mehretu with the Whitney Museum that will cover over 20 years of Mehretu’s examinations of colonialism, capitalism, and global diaspora. The show seems pretty timely, doesn’t it? I’m especially interested in seeing the more recent figurative works that will also be included in the retrospective.
Assistant Curator at the Metropolitan Museum of Art
“Fatimah Tuggar: Home’s Horizons”
Davis Museum, Wellesley, Massachusetts
September 13–December 15, 2019
I’m always fascinated to see how technologies can work in the context of exhibitions. I’m particularly interested in the multimedia approach that [Nigerian artist] Fatimah Tuggar takes, in which she thoughtfully engages with artisanal practices and new technologies by probing their effects on relationships. In this monographic exhibition at the Davis Museum, Tuggar, who is the recipient of a 2019 Guggenheim Fellowship, will be debuting her first augmented reality work. I’ll be visiting Boston this fall and look forward to taking in the show.
“Nikhil Chopra: Lands, Waters, and Skies”
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
September 12–20, 2019
I first saw Nikhil Chopra in performance at Khoj International Performance Art Residency when I was living in New Delhi about a dozen years ago. I was struck by the incredible way he inhabits spaces and characters to reflect upon the mutability of identity and belonging. I’m eagerly anticipating re-encountering him in the galleries of the Met and am particularly interested in the resonances of his practice in the context of the densely layered narratives of the museum.
Like many people, I’ve become more keenly aware of Gilliam’s extraordinary practice in recent years and now seek out opportunities to experience his works first hand. Especially his Drape paintings. Not only is it always rewarding to hop on the MetroNorth and take a break from the city by heading to Beacon, but I anticipate that Dia’s cavernous spaces will be particularly suited for the installation of Gillam’s work.
Curating After the Global: Roadmaps for the Present
As a curator, I think a lot about the implications of the experience of globalization, and its impact on the production and reception of art in different locations. It is increasingly important to be alive to the plurality of positions that follow. The perspectives brought together in this volume are some that I’m looking forward to learning more about.
Executive Director, Creative Time
“Clapping with Stones: Art and Acts of Resistance”
Rubin Museum of Art, New York
On view through January 6, 2020
Curated by Sara Raza, this exhibition brings together 10 artists to address the power of non-conformity and resistance [as part of] the museum’s 2019 year-long investigation of the theme of power. The exhibition includes the work of a few artists I deeply admire, including Nadia Kaabi-Linke, Hank Willis Thomas, Kader Attia, and Nari Ward.
Les Filles de Illighadad
October 15, 2019, 7 p.m.
Les Filles’s album Eghass Malan has been my go-to commute music of late. It is full of energy and is deeply transportive. I’m so thrilled that they are coming to Pioneer Works and I look forward to experiencing their music live in such a beautiful environment.
“Pia Camil: Fade to Black”
October 6, 2019–February 16, 2020
I have had the pleasure of working on two exhibitions with Pia Camil and her work never ceases to surprise and inspire me. She co-opts the visual languages of retail and theater to address consumerism and exchange. I am curious to see what she has in store for the Queens Museum.
“Vija Celmins:To Fix the Image in Memory”
The Met Breuer
September 24, 2019–January 12, 2020
Vija Celmins’s profound and poetic attention to detail is transportive; looking at her work, I sometimes feel as if I were engaging in astral projection. It can be an out-of-body experience carrying you from choppy seas and into the cosmos. This retrospective spanning her [more than] 50-year career is something I cannot wait to experience.
Making Another World Possible: 10 Creative Time Summits, 10 Global Issues, 100 Art Projects
Creative Time’s upcoming book celebrates the 10-year anniversary of the Summit, as well as the [previous] decade of socially engaged art. Edited by Corina Apostol and Nato Thompson, the publication looks at 100 artists’ projects addressing such diverse themes as surveillance, education, and terrorism. In the book, there is a timeline of arts, politics, and engagement from 1945 to the present, rendered by the collective Chto Delat. The project has been a long time in the making, and I am delighted to share the final product with the public.
Follow artnet News on Facebook:
Want to stay ahead of the art world? Subscribe to our newsletter to get the breaking news, eye-opening interviews, and incisive critical takes that drive the conversation forward.