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Artist to Watch

10 Artists to Watch This July


10 Artists to Watch This July
The artist Katharina Grosse

Guess what? Art doesn't take a vacation. Here is a slew of artists with significant showings around the world this month.


The Royal Academy of Arts, July 2 - October 2


Ahead of his massive 2017 retrospective at Tate Britain, the British painter David Hockney is having another, far more manageable show of his work at the Royal Academy of Arts in Mayfair focusing on his recent series of portraits, which were sadly inspired by the suicide of a 23-year-old studio assistant and friend. “More manageable” is perhaps a relative term; as its title suggests, this show features “82 Portraits and 1 Still-life”—not exactly a minor project. Still, the consistency of the paintings—rendered in bright blues and greens and featuring portraits of Hockney’s friends and colleagues like Larry Gagosian and Lord Jacob Rothschild seated on the same yellow chair—make this exhibition a deep dive into the concerns currently inspiring the 78-year-old artist.  



The Barbican Centre, July 14 - September 4


Everyone’s favorite Icelandic performance artist Ragnar Kjartansson is having a mid-career survey of his work at the Barbican, giving Brexit-weary Londoners something to feel good about. Kjartansson has been working his way into the art world’s collective heart with his funny, romantic, and moving videos and performances, which often extend over many hours in a kind of repetitious meditation on subjects like love and longing. Visitors should expect plenty of music; the retrospective includes Kjartansson’s nine-channel video The Visitors—featuring members of the Icelandic band Sigur Rós—as well as a rendition of his eight-hour, 10-vocalist piece Take Me Here by the Dishwasher: Memorial for a Marriage.



Garth Greenan Gallery, June 23 - July 29


If you’re looking for a summer group show you can really sink your teeth into, Garth Greenan gallery’s “Skins: Body as Matter and Process” is a good place to start. Curated by Alison Dillulio and featuring works by 10 heavy-hitting artists including Wilke, Lynda Benglis, Harmony Hammond, and more, the show reads the artists’ material experimentation of the 1970s in light of the concurrent developments in second-wave feminism. The results on view in this exhibition (the last before the gallery makes its move to a much larger Chelsea location this fall) find the artists suggesting, dissecting, and otherwise flirting with the human form in their largely abstract works, creating a compelling and tightly curated snapshot of this influential period.



The Liverpool Biennial, July 9 - October 16


The performance artist Michael Portnoy is an interesting guy. Having gotten his start as a rule-breaking provocateur in New York’s experimental comedy scene (the New York Post called him “the next Andy Kaufman”), he gained international visibility when he crashed Bob Dylan’s 1998 Grammy Awards performance to dance manically next to the singer with the words “Soy Bomb” scrawled on his naked chest—a feat that earned a reenactment by Will Ferrell on “Saturday Night Live.” Since then Portnoy has refined his work to an audience-unnerving discipline of what he calls “Relational Stalinism”—a critique of the idea that art is always a democratic, liberalizing force and not a totalitarian tool—and become a favorite of the curatorial elite, appearing in dOCUMENTA 13, the Taipei Biennial, the Baltic Triennial, and shows from the Kitchen to KW Berlin. Now he’s included in the Liverpool Biennial, opening this month, with “Relational Stalinism: The Musical.” As for Bob Dylan, whatever happened to him?



MoMA PS1 at Fort Tilden, July 3 – November


The Berlin-based painter is an art heroine in in her native Germany, routinely racking up prizes with names like the Oskar-Schlemmer-Preis and the Große Staatspreis fur Bildende Kunst—but that doesn’t mean her work is overly think-y, or difficult to process. On the contrary, her majestically scaled canvases are thrilling celebrations of paint in all its forms, taking viewers into the same terrain of sensory overload and adrenaline rush as a roller coaster ride on LSD. Now, Grosse—who last year had a spectacular, immersive, room-filling painting at the Venice Biennale—is taking her all-over-an-then-some approach to her medium to the Rockaways, where she has bliss-bombed a beachfront building in Fort Tilden into a psychedelic eruption of purples and reds (organized by MoMA PS1).



Renee Spaulings, July 1 - July 30


In 2013, after the devastation of Hurricane Sandy, set out for the hardest-hit areas in East New York and the Rockaways with a troupe of dancers in tow—the self-taught Ringmaster Crew—to film a sci-fi film amid the apocalyptic wreckage. Electrified by a plot that sent a demonic, dancing, LED-light-strung villain in pursuit of the protagonist, and fueled by a doomy, anxious-making soundtrack, the film was an instantaneous sensation when it debuted at Reena Spaulings, burning images into its viewers’ memories. Since then she’s shown at the Kunsthalle Zürich and KW Berlin, and now she’s returning to the Chinatown gallery for a group show curated by Monika Senz. It’ll be interesting to see where her work has gone in the interim.  



Foxy Production, Through July 29


A painter whose figurative-ish canvases have stretched from the aloof and decadent—two cigarette-smoking fingers in a garden, say—to the sinister and strange, Sojourner Truth Parsons was a hit at NADA New York this year, where her paintings sold swiftly to name collectors at the booth of Tomorrow Gallery. Now her painting seems to have evolved to a new stage, as indicated by the stately, Picassian efforts that hold their own at Foxy Production’s new group show alongside other rising painters like Becky Kolsrud and Anna Glantz. 


Tate Modern, July 6 - Oct. 30.


In recent years, few artists have been rethought so fully, and so deservedly, as this American pioneer. Long dismissed as a regional painter, a sexy-flower painter, or, too often, as half of a power couple with Alfred Steiglitz, she received a respite in 2009 when the Whitney Museum of American Art changed the conversation with an indispensable show. Co-curated by Barbara Haskell, it posited O’Keeffe as the radical abstractionist that she was, her ravenous curls and sweeps of color and sophisticated use of line, light, and darkness presaging much of what came after her. Now, the spiffy, newly renovated Tate Modern presents a show of over 100 works by O’Keeffe, giving that side of the pond a chance to enjoy her genius, courtesy of curators Tanya Barson and Hannah Johnston.



Eric Firestone Gallery, through July 10


Come July, the Hamptons dealers own the East Coast scene, none more so than Eric Firestone, who established his Newton Lane beachhead six years ago. (He also has a project space on Great Jones Street.) His summer group show, “Primary Colors,” features several artists, notably the chic silver-haired doyenne Mia Fonssagrives-Solow. Born something of an art-world insider (she’s stepdaughter of Irving Penn and daughter of model Lisa Fonssagrives, dubbed by Vogue “the first supermodel”) her jewelry sells at the Gagosian shop and her vividly colored biomorphic sculpture through Firestone. In a meet cute, the two were introduced by collector Beth Rudin deWoody, and the gallerist has shown her ever since.


Portikus Gallery, July 1 -  Sept. 4


Here’s something that will give today’s aspiring artists pause: the painter Amy Sillman showed work at PS 122, the Drawing Center, and the New Museum in the 1980s—all before she turned 30. Born in Detroit and now living in New York, she’s continued that pace since, with appearances at Prospect 1 New Orleans, the Whitney Biennial and, perhaps most notably, a well-reviewed solo show at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in 2008. Her painting defies categorization, as there are scenes, landscapes, and abstractions united only by her striking bands of color. In 2015, she was appointed professor of painting at the Städelschule in Frankfurt am Main, and now her first German retrospective is opening at Portikus Gallery in that city. (You can read our interview with her here.)


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