As the self-described “conscience of the art world,” the anonymous feminist collective the Guerrilla Girls have built their reputation around agitating for a more equitable representation of female, LGBTQ, and non-white artists in galleries and institutions. Since they first came together in 1985, the group has employed a full battery of tactics including protests, posters (including their famous “Do women have to be naked to get into the Met. Museum” piece from 2012), and other propaganda borrowing from the political activist’s playbook. Their new show at Whitechapel Gallery has the gorilla-mask-clad women presenting various archival materials from the group’s 30 years together, plus new statistics on the diversity of artists represented in European museums. (Hint: they’re not happy with the numbers.)
Mitchell-Innes & Nash, October 13 – November 23
Said to have been “born in the VIP lounge of Art Dubai,” the brilliant art collective GCC has been ruthlessly expose the systems of control used by the Arab Peninsula’s oil-rich monarchies, making art that often uses the slickness of management consulting and brand marketing to parody the way these regimes are attempting to put a hip, digital-forward face on retrograde political systems. The GCC—composed of the artists Barrak Alzaid, Fatima Al Qadiri, Abdullah Al-Mutairi, Sophia Al-Maricheekily, Monira Al Qadiri, Amal Khalaf, Aziz Al Qatami, Khalid al Gharaballi, and Nanu Al-Hamad—cheekily takes its name from the governmental Gulf Cooperative Council, and recently had a prominent showing at the Berlin Biennale. Now, they are about to experience a big step up in visibility with their debut solo show on the roster at Chelsea’s Mitchell-Innes & Nash, the prominent gallery that represents both emerging artists and the estates of such historical figures as Jean Arp and Anthony Caro. Expect the show, with elements related to their Berlin showstopper, to bring viewers into a provocative, idea-rich world redolent of silicon and sand.
Minimalism and Abstract Expressionism are two movements deeply associated with masculinity, making Agnes Martin, a foundational female figure in both, a force to be reckoned with. The artist’s nuanced, often monochrome canvases were influenced by her attraction to Asian belief systems like Taoism and Zen Buddhism, which manifest as emotive expressions of happiness and well-being. (Martin was known for her positive titles, like I Love the Whole World, Perfect Happiness, and Contentment.) Beginning on October 7th, the Guggenheim rotunda will be filled with the pioneering artist’s paintings spanning from the early 1950s through 2004, making it the first comprehensive survey of the artist’s work since her death eight years ago.
MoMA PS1, October 23 – March 5
Art buccaneer Mark Leckey has been sailing the seas of the contemporary experience for quite some time, hunting for the transcendent gold buried beneath the everyday morass of banal consumerism, technology, and pop culture. Occasionally, he has been known to come up with treasure troves, such as his 2008 Turner Prize-winning paean to Felix the Cat or his extraordinary Performa 2009 discursus on The Long Tail. This month, the whole sweep of his profound, piratical art will go on display at MoMA PS1, constituting his first retrospective in the United States (as well as his biggest show anywhere ever) and giving us the opportunity to take in everything from his early explorations of the London hardcore scene to his recent forays into captain’s-log-like autobiography. Organized jointly by Peter Eleey and Stuart Comer, this will be a big one, perhaps even the sleeper hit of the fall season.
Tate Modern, October 4 - April 2, 2017
It’s hard to sum up the work of Philippe Parreno, nor would it really make sense to—it's the kind of art that a jpeg or description just can’t capture. A consummate collaborator, he has worked with fellow giants of recent European art like Pierre Huyghe (with whom he initiated the well-loved “No Ghost Just a Shell” project) and Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster to create immersive, multifaceted experiences that take the exhibition itself as their medium. His new commission for Tate’s imposing Turbine Hall will have him partnering with the musicians of Factory Floor and the sound designer Nicolas Becker (among others) to create what the press release describes as “a spectacular choreography of acoustics, lighting, flying objects and film, each connected to the other and playing their part in a far bigger score.”
Get ready for a whole lot of complicated, ravishing, multi-sensory bliss: Pipilotti is coming to town. Six years after this Swiss artist sent New York into a happiness coma with her color-saturated, room-wrapping video installation Pour Your Body Out in MoMA’s atrium, she’s returning to the scene of the crime with her largest show to date, filling almost all of the New Museum with a career’s worth of her indelible work. (Phaidon, meanwhile, collaborated with the artist on the definitive catalogue.) At a time when we have a woman seemingly about to close the deal on the biggest political job in the world, a fitting way to celebrate will be by basking in Rist’s joyous embrace of all things feminine, presenting through her work an immersive female worldview full of beauty, grit, humor, violence, birth, sass, and everything else that is non-two-dimensional.
A pioneer of feminist art, Carolee Schneemann has certainly had a huge impact on contemporary art in the later half of the 20th century. Many of her works act as textbook examples of second-wave feminist art—like Interior Scroll (1975) which involved performing at a conference in the nude reading from a scroll extracted from her vagina. But despite Schneemann’s celebrated and recurrent presence in art theory and art school curricula, much of her work is rarely exhibited. Schneemann’s two-part exhibition taking place at P.P.O.W. and Galerie Lelong present the artist’s critical but lesser-known works from the past four decades. As women artists continue to fight censorship over their art and their bodies, today feels like an important time to see these projects, which, according to the press release, will both center on “representation of bodies in captivity and visualizations of repressed histories of confinement and control.”
Dung beetles and the local Laundromat may not be a pairing that most of us are interested in exploring, but in the hands of the Japanese performance artist Aki Sasamoto the two just might become the focal points of a fascinating exploration of what SculptureCenter’s site refers to as “the neuroses of around cleanliness and filth.” (Think about it: both the beetles and washing machines use centrifugal force to tidy up, the former removing excrement from the savannah, the latter mustard stains from your shirt.) For her first solo presentation in a U.S. museum, the artist is producing a cycle of performances (all sold out) as well as mobile “sculptural units” that mimic the rolling motion of both the machines and the insects.
As a painter, Brown abstracts the figure—or more accurately, the fleshy tones and dewy textures that belong to the figure—with a style that takes hints from the muscular gestures of Abstract Expressionist painters like Willem de Kooning. But the best thing about Cecily Brown: Rehearsal is that the exhibition doesn’t have a single one of Brown's paintings. Instead, it has over 80 drawings, offering fans like us the unprecedented chance to see the painter work in a medium she rarely exhibits. Fragmented renderings of the figure are even more markedly appropriated from Brown’s source material—animal clip art, the 1968 album cover of Jimi Hendrix’s Electric Ladyland, prints from 18th-century draftsman William Hogarth—in the artist’s drawings than they are in her signature medium.
“Mastery” is the title of the astonishing painter Kerry James Marshall’s retrospective that is about to alight in New York, and in that word are several layers of powerful truth. For one thing, the Chicago-based artist is an indisputable master of his medium, creating bravura history paintings that use every technique in the book (and invent a few more) to arrest viewers with beauty and truth when it comes to the black experience in America. For another thing, that mastery is not that simply of a born virtuoso, but one gained through an heroic quest of political urgency: seeing that black people leading meaningful lives were pretty much absent from the canon of Western painting, Marshall took it upon himself to climb to the very heights of the medium’s tradition, teaching himself to paint on par with the Velásquezes and Rembrandts, in order to inject these images into art history on an equal footing. Finally, within “Mastery” there is the killing reminder of a fact that invests Marshall’s project with profundity: for black people in America, the old masters have a very different connotation than for white Europhiles.