Calling the Icelandic artist's first New York show since winning Performa's 2011 Malcolm award a triumphal return would be at odds with Ragnar Kjartansson's joyous, non-Viking demeanor—he conquers through song rather than brute force, after all. But expect to hear plenty of applause for Kjartansson's "The Visitors" at Luhring Augustine Gallery (Feb. 1-March 16), debuting a new nine-channel video installation that the 2009 Venice Biennale star created at an upstate New York farm with a Big Pink-worthy assortment of musician friends, who accompany him and others as they sing—resignedly, happily, mournfully—"Once again I fall into my feminine ways" repeatedly for 64 minutes.
2. TACITA DEAN
Known for her stunningly detailed chalk-on-blackboard drawings (and her moving 2010 documentary on Merce Cunningham, a must-see collaboration), the YBA artist Tacita Dean impressed the hardy art travelers who made it to her offsite installation of enormous Fatigues works at last year's Documenta exhibition in Kassel, Germany. Now others will have a chance to see these six show-stopping mountainscapes of the Himalayas, which the artist made after a trip to Afghanistan, when they come to Marian Goodman Gallery (Feb. 1-March 9).
3. THE VOGELS
For more than half a century Herb and Dorothy Vogel existed as a counterpoint to the excesses of the art market, saving what they could from their modest professions (a postal officer and a librarian, respectively) to buy small artworks from the Minimalist and conceptual artists they admired—in the process amassing a historic collection of work by figures like Cindy Sherman, Robert Mangold, Christo, Richard Tuttle, Dan Graham, and many more. Herb passed away last year, but the two will always live on together—like a goodly couple out of one of Ovid's Metamorphoses—in the form of their art collection, 50 works of which are going on view at Los Angeles MOCA (Feb. 10-March 28).
4. DAVE MIKO/TOM THAYER
The last time Dave Miko and Tom Thayer had a collaborative show—the zany "New World Pig" at The Kitchen in 2011, which projected Thayer's scratchy animations on Miko's flat-faced paintings—it was widely seen as announcement of two exciting new talents, with Thayer in particular going on to have further buzzy exposure with a room of his strangely scenographic paintings (they look like theater props) in the last Whitney Biennial. Now the two artists are coming back for another joint effort at Eleven Rivington (Feb. 17-March 16), leaving one to wonder if it's Miko turn to break out this time around.
With her lovely lines and loose-limbed hipster protagonists, the artist Hope Gangloff has always resembled a kind of fun-loving Egon Schiele off the L stop, creating portraits that captured her social life in Brooklyn with splendid precision, not to mention loveliness. However, her new show at Susan Inglett Gallery (Feb. 15-March 23) might mark a not-so-subtle change of pace, since a while back she traded her club-hitting life in the borough for a bucolic existence on an Upstate New York farm (not Kjartansson's though)—making one eager to see how her art transitions from urban grit to countrified earthiness.
6. ROY LICHTENSTEIN
Fifteen years after running its famous Jackson Pollock profile asking "Is He the Greatest Living Painter in the United States," Life magazine followed that up with another article, "Is He the Worst Artist in the U.S.?", about Roy Lichtenstein. Henry Luce's glossy got art wrong every now and then, as Britons will discover with the opening of Tate Modern's most sweeping survey of the artist to date (Feb. 21-May 27), bringing his great comic-book-inspired canvases to the birthplace of Pop art (c.f. London's Independent Group, 1952) in a show co-curated by Sheena Wagstaff, who has since joined New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art as the head of its contemporary division.
7. JAY DEFEO
For years, if San Francisco Beat-era artist Jay DeFeo was known at all, she was known for the obsessive masterwork to which she devoted her life: The Rose, an 11-foot-tall mandala-like sculptural painting composed of nearly one ton of pigment, which she spent 30 years working on in a haze of brandy and cigarettes. Now that legendary totem (the subject of an elegiac 1965 film by Bruce Conner) will go on view at the Whitney—which spent years and a fortune to restore the work—alongside a retrospective of the late artist making the case that her greatness is supported by a rich body of work, not just one spooky, tragedy-tinted piece.