MoMA, November 9–February 22
The artist and impersonator par excellance born Elaine Sturtevant long ago shed her given name in favor of the iconic standalone cognomen, a lá Warhol—an act of mirroring that both pays homage to her kinship with that artist, whose works she began shamelessly copying in the mid-‘60s, and speaks to the fame that she earned over the course of her long and astonishing career, which ended with her death at 89 this May. That Sturtevant did not stop at copying Warhol (a mise-en-abyme gesture that at once skewered and added extra profundity to the Pop star’s seminal appropriations) will be abundantly clear at her MoMA retrospective opening this month, which will chronicle her protean “repetitions” of works by male artists as diverse as Félix González-Torres, Jasper Johns, Joseph Beuys, and Robert Gober (whose own show is just one floor up), along with her later video installations of commercial imagery and squeam-inducing open-mouthed sex dolls.
LACMA, November 23-February 22
How does one talk about an artist like Pierre Huyghe? So multifarious, so visually diverse, so conceptually eclectic is he that he comes close to personifying the ideal of contemporary art not as a hermetic formalist experiment but a way of probing into the world around us, slipping in and out of other disciplines (biology, theater, cinema, etc.) and bringing back his findings for aesthetic display. When a survey of his work—which includes genetically engineered animals, the flu virus, and a puppet show—appeared at the Pompidou last year it was one of the museum’s most popular shows ever, and now that the exhibition is touring to LACMA, American audiences will have a chance to test their interpretations against Huyghe’s kaleidoscopic art.
Eyes, cameras, film, developing trays, and the other integral components of the photographic process are the subjects of Anne Collier’s art, which turns the act of photography inward on itself, asking provocative questions about why, by whom, and for whom pictures are taken. (That the women are often young and attractive, and a whiff of commercial aesthetics is immediately perceptible in Collier’s work, a feminist critique of the male gaze soon becomes evident.) Now the artist is receiving her first major solo survey, at the MCA Chicago, where these quiet, thinking photographs can be seen in their pointed—and, it must be said, exceedingly elegant—sweep.
Composed while the 31-year-old Franz Schubert was dying of syphilis and not in a very good mood, the 24-song cycle Winterreise sets to music a poem by Wilhelm Müller about a young man who, spurned by his lover, goes off in search of a lonely death. For Lincoln Center’s White Lights Festival, the South African artist William Kentridge is presenting a rendition of this sombre masterpiece in collaboration with the baritone Matthias Goerne, who will sing Schubert’s tragedy while Kentridge’s signature animations play in the background. A hit when premiered in Europe this summer, the performance is the latest stage effort by the artist, whose previous production of Shostakovich’s The Nose was also widely acclaimed.
A quintessential California photographer, Larry Sultan first came to notice for his 1977 series Evidence, for which he rifled through the photographic storerooms of the San Jose Police Department, the United States Department of the Interior, and other agencies in search of the strangest, least explicable, most unsettling images he could find. (A man with a gloved hand restraining a shaved monkey, for one.) From these conceptual beginnings, Sultan continued to point his camera at the strange, unsavory corners of his native state—a ‘90s series of porn settings from the San Fernando Valley was particularly popular—and now, posthumously, he’s receiving his first career retrospective at LACMA.
JANET CARDIFF & GEORGE BURES MILLER
Reina Sofia, November 19-March 16
The Canadian husband-and-wife team of Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller specialize in creating meditative, otherworldly site-specific sound installations that lead viewers through a multisensory journey—sometimes literally, as in the case of their audio guides that spur listeners on tours characterized by fictional narratives about what they’re seeing. Cardiff gained some particular praise for her solo piece Forty Part Motet, which dazzled critics when it was displayed at the Cloisters last fall, with 40 speakers set in a ring to play 40 different voices singing the early English plainsong Spem in Alium. For their show opening this month at Madrid’s Reina Sophia, the couple are debuting a new high-concept piece with sound and visual elements presented as an experiential collage.
David Zwirner Gallery, November 6-December 20
The most celebrated of the so-called New Leipzig School painters, Neo Rauch was born under Soviet rule in East Germany and developed a style that merged the angst and anger of such realist postwar artists as Georg Baselitz with a deeply enigmatic symbolist approach, drawing on the psychologically baroque legacy of Surrealism. Now returning to New York with his sixth solo show at David Zwirner, Rauch will present a new body of work, both in large and more modest formats, that will continue his eerie exploration of the kind of history paintings one might expect to see lining the walls of the Museum of Uneasy Dreams.
An art-world rock star in his youth, Frank Stella gained international attention while still in his 20s for his minimal, stunningly economical black paintings, composed of bands of paint—whose width was dictated by the width of the picture’s frame—placed in taut geometric alignments. Now, over 50 years later, the artist is experiencing a major late-period resurgence, with a retrospective of his life’s work eagerly anticipated as on the new Whitney building’s first shows. As warmup for that major event, Stella will present a show of new work at Boesky—his first since signing with the gallery this spring—that will present the dynamic sculptural works he now creates as a mode of painting in three dimensions, including one monumental piece that promises to drop a few critical jaws.
The de Young Museum, November 8-February 16
Now often remembered for his “radiant baby,” grooving figures, and cheerful colors, Keith Haring was a far more complicated artist—and person—than his popular reputation would suggest, and often angled his art and graffiti murals at political problems. His radical Pop Shop on Lafayette Street, for instance, was a veritable factory for agit-prop art, taking on themes as diverse as Apartheid, the crack epidemic (c.f. “Crack Is Wack”), and AIDS, the disease that prematurely took his life. A new landmark exhibition at San Francisco’s de Young, “Keith Haring: The Political Line,” is the first show to focus on this aspect of the artist’s career, as evidenced over more than 130 pieces of his art.
Gagosian London, through November 22
Happy birthday, man of steel! Richard Serra, he who torqued the ellipse, caught the lead, tilted the arc, and employed many other verbs in the service of bending great quantities of metal to his will (and who also wrote the classic 1967 Verb List Compilation) is turning 75 on November 9th. How is he celebrating? With two shows of new work in London, one drawings and one sculpture, and by continuing to work on his most ambitious project to date, a half-mile-long Land Art installation in the middle of the Qatari Desert. Man of steel? More like iron man of art.