One of the world’s most controversial artists, Adel Abdessemed has conducted a relentless campaign to confront life’s essential traumas through work that has ranged from videos of farm animals being slaughtered with a sledgehammer—drawing an outraged reaction at the San Francisco Art Institute in 2008—to haunting emblems of the Holocaust. (His current show at the Musée de Vence features a sculpture based on a famous photo of a Jewish child surrounding to fascists in 1943 Warsaw, carved entirely out of ivory.) Now the Algerian-born artist is returning to the West Coast with his biggest Los Angeles showing to date—and this time he’s laying on the charm. Consisting of 100 drawings inspired by Fred Zinnemann’s classic war movie From Here to Eternity, the series pays homage to one of Hollywood’s iconic moments (that famous kiss on the beach) while making a personal reference to the censorship in Algeria that prevented him from seeing such a sensual scene as a child.
Marianne Boesky on the Upper East Side, Nov. 5 - Dec.19
These days, the art community is working around the clock to fill in the various lacunae of the past century’s art-historical record, casting an appreciative spotlight on major artists who were long marginalized because they weren’t while, male, and living in Western capitals. Oftentimes, this reappraisal comes too late for the artist to appreciate it. That happily is not the case with Thornton Dial, a self-taught African-American artistic heavyweight who has bucked the odds to see his own apotheosis occur during his lifetime. In 2016, two years before he turns 90, he will have a survey at the Met’s Breuer location, built out of a gift from his longtime champion, William Arnett; this month, he’s moving into the big time art-market-wise as well, presenting his first show with Marianne Boesky gallery, which now represents him. Expect to become much more familiar with his work very soon.
“Ocean of Images: New Photography 2015” at MoMA, Nov. 7 - Mar. 20, 2016
Recently named Deutsche Bank's "Artist of the Year" for 2016, the Egyptian-born artist Basim Magdy is perhaps best known for works which use the nostalgic (and physical) qualities of Super-8 film to explore difficult-to-fathom concepts such as the future, the immensity of the universe, or the sprawling impact of the human population. His photographs, on view as part of MoMA’s "New Photography" exhibition series, have a similar aesthetic; Magdy alters the photo paper with a variety of chemicals to achieve a rainbow of lurid colors that evokes ’60s sci-fi.
For his first New York show with Hauser & Wirth, Mark Bradford is presenting a slew of new canvases and video works that reflect his ongoing engagement with what he calls “social abstraction”—abstract art that points towards social and political realities without descending into didacticism. Highlights from this include his piece Spiderman (2015), in which the artist takes on the persona of a trans woman for a raunchy, politicized standup routine, and his signature large-scale abstract compositions, which he forms by layering paper and paint before sanding them down to reveal previously-obscured layers of color.
Paula Cooper Gallery’s upcoming show features a variety of works from the home and studio of the celebrated Pop artists Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen. Best known for their public sculptures of mundane objects magnified to monumental scales, the artists also produced a variety of smaller objects, drawings, and the like over the course of their decades-long marriage and collaboration. The exhibitions includes models of some of their iconic works, offering rare glimpses into the process of this prolific duo.
Reena Spaulings Fine Art, Nov.8 - Dec. 6
A writer, critic, and sometime experimental gallerist, the British conceptual artist Merlin Carpenter employs his estimable synaptic wizardry to continually wrong-foot his fans, varying his approach from show to show as if to evoke his magical namesake’s transformations in Disney’s The Sword in the Stone. A 2013 exhibition featured the word “police” written in bold type across white canvases; a show this past summer consisted of a motorcycle, a pram, a refrigerator, and a DJ’s mixing table scattered around a Berlin apartment gallery. This month, Carpenter is returning to his New York stomping grounds, Reena Spaulings Gallery (which he once transformed into a facsimile of Tate Modern’s cafe). Prepare to be nonplussed.
In art and literature, California’s Great Central Valley is best known as the setting for haunting tales of the American Dream gone sour: Dorothea Lange’s shots of migrant workers, or Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath. Mindful of that history, the photographer Katy Grannan traveled along the valley’s Highway 99 for her latest body of work, which is a mix of close-up color portraits taken in glaring sunlight and bleak black-and-white landscapes. Also on view at Salon 94 will be stills from Grannan’s first feature film, The Nine, which is also set in the valley and is due to premiere early next year.
Rachel Whiteread’s ghostly casts of the spaces around furniture and within architecture have earned her many accolades, from the Turner Prize (1993) to the representation of Britain at the Venice Biennale (1997). A Whiteread retrospective co-organized by Tate Britain and the National Gallery in Washington, D.C., is planned for 2017, as is the debut of a new commission on Governors Island. In the meantime, you can see her latest sculptures and some of her early drawings in a pair of shows at Luhring Augustine, which are titled “Looking In” and “Looking Out” and include windows and doors cast from resin and cement.
Bronx Museum, Nov. 4 - Feb. 14
The Chinese-American artist Martin Wong was so effortlessly talented that he called himself a “human instamatic.” That boast is now the title of his first much-deserved museum retrospective, at the Bronx Museum, but it’s faint praise for his pictorial gifts. Wong’s portraits (many of them set in New York’s East Village) place hustlers and other denizens of the gay demimonde in the fantastical context of devotional Christian painting, with an element of fond caricature that recalls his early days as a street portraitist in California. Wong worked in relative obscurity, and his art fell further from view after his death from AIDS in 1999, but in recent years his gallery PPOW and the artist Danh Vo (who showed the late artist’s archives as part of his Hugo Boss Prize show) have ensured that this underground hero is now a bona fide sensation.
Anne Collier’s meticulously re-photographed pieces of ephemera—record covers, notebooks, magazine pages, and so on—subtly call attention to clichés in visual presentation, while also looking unimpeachably cool. This month Collier, who shows at Anton Kern in New York and has a traveling museum solo that’s now at the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, is one of the key players in a new group show of conceptual photography at the Guggenheim (cleverly timed to coincide with this year’s edition of MoMA’s “New Photography.”)