Art Basel, June 18 - 21
With his Fluxus roots, the Swiss artist John Armleder is well-positioned to poke some fun at the refined showrooms of the major art fairs. The “Furniture Sculptures” he has been making since 1979 combine abstract paintings with complementary furnishings and fixtures, giving cerebral formalism a pragmatic, functional aspect (and anticipating the everything-is-décor ethos of Instagram). Look for his work at the “Unlimited” sector of this month’s Art Basel, where he is represented by Massimo De Carlo.
David Zwirner London, June 13 - August 14
The Belgian artist Michaël Borremans evokes the Old Masters’ attention to detail and brushwork in his paintings, which typically oscillate between brooding seriousness and absurdity. Both descriptors can be applied to his new show at David Zwirner’s London gallery, which features a new series in which hooded figures enact cryptic rituals in ambiguous, shelf-like spaces.
It’s funny how much of the most simply enjoyable art these days fits under the umbrella of “Concrete Comedy,” the term that the artist/writer David Robbins coined in the 1980s to apply to humor expressed through “doing rather than saying”—a notion that applies to artists as diverse as Jonathan Monk, David Shrigley, and Darren Bader. The Swiss artist Olaf Breuning definitely fits the bill too, making artworks (photographs, drawings, videos, installations, happenings) that find the place where funny and beautiful meet. This month, he’s filling Metro Pictures with a kooky landscape of sculptures and staged photographs, presenting an appealingly clownish face that masks a deep and abiding confusion about the fundamental verities of life.
“You Have Did the Right Thing When You Put That Skylight In” at the Kunsthalle Basel, June 18-August 23
The San Francisco artist Vincent Fecteau is known for making intimately scaled, incongruously colored tabletop sculptures that charismatically perch on tabletops or hang from walls, kind of like sociable little aliens that just want to say, “Hello.” Part of the Matthew Marks stable—where his objets find sympathetic company in the similarly idiosyncratic work of Ken Price and Martin Puryear (though Fecteau himself cites the slightly sinister Ron Nagle as an inspiration)—he tills a fertile genre of lumpen composite artworks that recently has also blooped over into the medium painting in the work of artists like Sadie Benning. This month, Fecteau’s art will be on view in a new show at the Kunsthalle Basel during the art-fair festivities, following on the heels of his current “Second Chances” group show at the Aspen Art Museum.
How much of an art-world OG is Kim Gordon? Did you know that she started out as an assistant for Larry Gagosian’s first proper Los Angeles gallery in the 1970s? Did you know that in 1981, the year she co-founded Sonic Youth (giving even the dissonance-averse a spate of all-star album covers), she and Baer Faxt maverick Josh Baer persuaded Thurston Moore to curate the seminal “Noise Fest” survey of No Wave at White Columns? Did you know that she was recently honored at the Kitchen’s spring gala for her way of catalyzing creativity wherever she goes? Well, one thing you should know is that she’s been a painter through all this time, throwing down the same attitudinal gestures on canvas that appear in her guitar playing, and that she has a show of new work at 303 Gallery this month.
Blum & Poe, June 4 – August 15
If the offerings at the recent New York art fairs are anything to go by, soft sculpture is on its way to becoming the next hot trend. It’s important to remember, however, that there’s rarely (if ever) anything new under the sun—and, as Blum & Poe’s new exhibition of works by Françoise Grossen demonstrates, working with textiles in three dimensions is hardly a new innovation. These works from 1967 to 1991 show the Swiss-born sculptor at her best, with hanging pieces that reimagine the tapestry as far more than something to cover a wall.
Carnegie Museum of Art, June 11 - October 5
Working with metallic and ultraviolet pigments, Jacqueline Humphries makes gestural abstract paintings that function more like screens. Their silvery, scraped-down surfaces respond to subtle changes in light and other environmental shifts, revealing the artist’s strong ties to experimental film. Her self-titled solo exhibition at the Carnegie (which overlaps with a show at Greene Naftali in New York, through June 20) will consist of new works made specifically for the museum’s Forum Gallery.
Museum of Modern Art, June 27 - August 30
The conceptual photographer and sculptor Zoe Leonard combines classic photo-archives, a la Walker Evans or Eugene Atget, with an activist sensibility influenced by her formative years in ACT UP and other artist collectives. Her prizewinning contribution to the 2014 Whitney Biennial, a giant camera obscura, paid homage to the Whitney’s soon-to-be-former home with a smart integration of photography, architecture, and street life. This month MoMA is exhibiting Leonard’s 412-piece series “Analogue,” which tracks cast-off and recycled consumer goods from New York’s Lower East Side to cities around the globe.
Influenced by postwar German artists such as Gerhard Richter and Sigmar Polke (with whom he studied in the 1970s), the painter Albert Oehlen continues their deeply skeptical probing of the medium. The retrospective of his work opening at the New Museum this month will take a non-chronological approach to his wide-ranging art, including early self-portraits as well as 1990s "computer paintings" and more recent works that appropriate advertising imagery.
TOM OF FINLAND
Artists Space, June 14-August 23
In an era when the flouting of heterodox gender norms is the hottest game in town—see Caitlyn Jenner, né Bruce, on the cover of Vanity Fair—the work of pioneering gay artists like Tom of Finland is starting to look less and less outrageous and more and more canonical. That said, Tom of Finland (the nom d’art of Touko Laaksonen, 1920-1991) is still pretty outrageous! Now the artist’s extraordinarily rendered drawings of pneumatically muscled hunks in skintight uniforms, which lavish attention on parts of the male anatomy that da Vinci and Michelangelo didn’t dare linger over, will receive the most comprehensive survey treatment ever in a 500-piece show at Artists Space.