SPRING SHOWS ARE HERE and the rich selection runs the gamut, from exhibitions of innovative new works to scholarly examinations of important historic movements. Exploring the intersection of race, feminism, political action, art production, the much-anticipated “We Wanted a Revolution: Black Radical Women, 1965–85” is opening at the Brooklyn Museum.
In advance of his representation of the United States at the Venice Biennale, Mark Bradford is collaborating with two institutions in Denver, Colo., presenting exhibitions that pair his work with that of Clyfford Still (1904-1980), a 20th century master of abstract expressionism. In Los Angeles, Bradford’s Art + Practice is featuring an solo exhibition of 1980s works by Al Loving.
Meanwhile, the work of Terry Adkins (1953-2014) is on view for the first time in the UK. Plus, “The Ease of Fiction,” featuring works by four U.S.-based African contemporary artists, travels from the California African American Museum in Los Angeles to the Museum of the African Diaspora in San Francisco. A selection of exhibitions opening this month follows:
“William T. Williams: Things Unknown Paintings, 1968-2017” @ Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, New York, N.Y. | April 7 – June 3, 2017
This is William T. Williams‘s first exhibition at Michael Rosenfeld since joining the gallery at the end of last year. The survey features 28 paintings spanning five decades—from late-1960s bold geometric abstractions to to recent gold metallic fields with lyrical lines.
For his first show in Ghana, Nigerian artist Gerald Chukwuma is presenting a new series of paintings, sculpture, and collage. He “explores migration as a constant process of transformation and reinvention. Considering the implications of globalization on his local community, Chukwuma transforms everyday materials to render new stories of Nigeria’s socio-political landscape.”
WILLIE COLE, “Shoe Bouquet,” 2009 (shoes, wood, wire). | Photo by Jason Mandella via Alexander and Bonin Gallery
“Willie Cole: On Site” @ Arthur Ross Gallery at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia | April 8-July 2, 2017
Featuring 13 works by New Jersey-based Willie Cole, including a site-specific installation, video, and sculptures composed of discarded water bottles, found wood, and one of his signature source materials, previously owned shoes, this exhibition was organized by the David C. Driskell Center where it was on view last fall. Professor Curlee R. Holton, the center’s director describes Cole’s transformation of ordinary objects as “resurrecting new meaning and spirit” in order “to assert his own vision of art and beauty.”
From top, MARK BRADFORD, “Realness,” 2016 (mixed media on canvas). | Denver Art Museum Collection. © Mark Bradford; CLYFFORD STILL, “PH-929,” 1974 (oil on canvas). | Clyfford Still Museum © City and County of Denver / ARS, NY both via Denver Art Museum
“Shade: Clyfford Still/Mark Bradford” @ Denver Art Museum and Clyfford Still Museum, Denver, Colo. | April 9-July 19, 2017
At both venues, works by Los Angeles artist Mark Bradford (who is representing the United States at the Venice Biennale this year) are on view alongside related Clyfford Still (1904-1980) paintings that Bradford helped to select. Still’s work has inspired Bradford and the collaborative presentation “underscores the legacy of abstract expressionism and Bradford’s exploration of abstraction’s power to address social and political concerns.”
This exhibition presents new sculptures by Melvin Edwards, most made during his 2016 residency at Oklahoma Contemporary, where he sourced materials in metal scrap yards in Oklahoma City. The works reflect his abstract aesthetic informed by his knowledge of global history and the African diaspora.
This exhibition presents watercolors and collages by Romare Bearden, the 20th century artist the gallery describes thus:” Coming of age during the Harlem Renaissance, surrounded by musicians, writers and intellectuals, Bearden developed a unique aesthetic and philosophical approach to art. As a mature artist, utilizing scenes of the black milieu, musical rhythms, various mythologies, and the physical joy of an array of materials and colors, Bearden wove together stories of the conditions and dreams of African Americans.”
BARKLEY L. HENDRICKS (1945-2017), “Lawdy Mama,” 1969 (oil and gold leaf on canvas). | The Studio Museum in Harlem; gift of Stuart Liebman, in memory of Joseph B. Liebman 1983.25; © Barkley L. Hendricks. Courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York
Drawing from its collection, the museum is featuring works spanning the late 19th century to the present that “explore the practice of portraiture and figuration as a means of celebrating personal and collective histories, ideas and identities.” About 40 artists are featured including Henry Ossawa Tanner, Eldzier Cortor, Lorraine O’Grady, Barkley L. Hendricks, and Njideka Akunyili Crosby. Several other new shows are also on view, including “Rico Gatson: Icons, 2007–2017,” “Jamel Shabazz:Crossing 125th,” and “Smokehouse, 1968–1970.”
JAN VAN RAAY, “Michelle Wallace (center) and Faith Ringgold (right) participating in Art Workers Coalition Protest at Whitney Museum,” 1971 (digital C-print). | Courtesy Jan Van Raay Portland, OR, 305-307. Copyright © Jan Van Raay via Brooklyn Museum
“We Wanted a Revolution: Black Radical Women, 1965–85” @ Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, N.Y. | April 21-Sept. 17, 2017
This exhibition is described by the museum as the first-ever to present the perspectives of women of color “distinct from the primarily white, middle-class mainstream feminist movement—in order to reorient conversations around race, feminism, political action, art production, and art history in this significant historical period.” The contributing artists come from a variety of backgrounds and include men. The group features Camille Billops, Beverly Buchanan, Elizabeth Catlett, Jeff Donaldson, Maren Hassinger, Jae Jarrell, Wadsworth Jarrell, Samella Lewis, Senga Nengudi, Lorraine O’Grady, Faith Ringgold, Betye Saar, Lorna Simpson, and Carrie Mae Weems.
Using a large format camera, Deana Lawson “carefully orchestrates and captures domestic portraiture that is richly detailed, intimate, and communicates a sincere love for the black body and interpersonal relationships.” Lawson’s work is also featured in the Whitney Biennial, currently on view at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, through June 11.
For his first solo exhibition in Europe, Los Angeles-based artist Awol Erizku has charted a new direction away from photography toward new sculptures and paintings that incorporate historic iconography, political symbols, references to urban surrounds, including graffiti, and titles that pay homage Africa American literature and black sports heroes. He has also produced a “conceptual” mix-tape specifically for the exhibition.
“Radcliffe Bailey: The Great Dismal Swamp” @ Greater Reston Arts Center, Reston, Va. | April 21-Aug. 18, 2017
Named for a huge swamp in the coastal plain region of Virginia where Radcliffe Bailey has roots, this solo exhibition is the artist’s first in the Washington, D.C., region. Incorporating found materials with historic significance and meaningful objects from his past, Bailey’s mixed-media works span two-dimensional collaged paintings, sculptures, and installations. Works featured in this presentation address his familial roots in Virginia, and the history of the Underground Railroad in the Great Dismal Swamp.
Inspired by jazz and his family’s quilting traditions, since the 1980s Al Loving has been broadening the definition of modern painting and drawing, experimenting with heavy paper and color to create three-dimensional collages. This exhibition features 12 works, some monumental, all “radical, beautiful, and deeply human.”
“If I Had Possession Over Judgement Day: Collections of Claude Simard” @ Frances Young TangTeaching Museum and Art Gallery at Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs, N.Y. | April 22-Sept. 24, 2017
Described as an artist, gallerist and influential figure in the international art world, Claude Simard (1956-2014) co-founded Jack Shaiman Gallery in New York. For 30 years, he collected works across centuries and continents, mediums and subject matter. About 30 artists are featured and many are represented by the gallery, including Radcliffe Bailey, Nick Cave, Titus Kaphar, Kerry James Marshall, Toyin Ojih Odutola, Malick Sidibé, and Hank Willis Thomas.
NARI WARD, “Iron Heavens” (installation view, Pérez Art Museum Miami, 2015), 1995 (oven pans, ironed cotton, and burnt wooden bats). | Photo courtesy Pérez Art Museum Miami. Photo by STUDIO LHOOQ via Barnes Foundation
The largest survey of Nari Ward‘s work to date, this traveling exhibition “focuses on vital points of reference for Ward, including his native Jamaica, citizenship, and migration, as well as African-American history and culture, to explore the dynamics of power and politics in society.” Ward works in a variety of mediums, photography, video, installation, and performance, and creating sculpture and collage from found objects.
Bringing together four contemporary African artists living in the United States this group show engenders a discussion about history, fact, and fiction through paintings, drawings, and sculptural works by ruby onyinyechi amanze (b. 1982, Nigeria), Duhirwe Rushemeza (b. 1977, Rwanda), Sherin Guirguis (b. 1974, Egypt), and Meleko Mokgosi (b. 1981, Botswana). The exhibition was organized by the California African American Museum in Los Angeles where it was on view last fall/winter.
Characterized as a “silent and reflective meditation on his life and work,” this presentation is the first solo exhibition in the United Kingdom of Terry Adkins (1953-2014), a multi-media artist, musician, and composer. A visual and aural experience, the exhibition feature’s some of the artist’s most celebrated and innovative creations, including Aviarium works that explore wave vectors of bird vocalizations; and examples from his sculptural Recital series paying homage to overlooked figures such as blues legend Bessie Smith and Arctic explorer Matthew Henson. The exhibition is on view in advance of “Projects 107: Lone Wolf Recital Corps” at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, an exhibition and series of performances dedicated to the multidisciplinary performance collective Adkins founded in 1986.
CHRIS OFILI, Installation view of “The Caged Bird’s Song,” 2014–2017 (wool, cotton and viscose, triptych). | © Chris Ofili. Courtesy the artist and Victoria Miro, London, The Clothworkers’ Company and Dovecot Tapestry Studio, Edinburgh. Photo by Gautier Deblonde via Victoria Miro Gallery
Commissioned by the Clothworkers’ Company, British artist Chris Ofili collaborated with Dovecot Tapestry Studios on a handwoven tapestry that will be installed at the National Gallery. The textile’s image reflects the “ongoing interest in classical mythology and the stories, magic, and colour of the Trinidadian landscape he inhabits.” Following the exhibition, the tapestry will be displayed permanently at Clothworkers’ Hall in London.
Chicago-based Tony Lewis was born in Los Angeles. This is his first solo exhibition in his hometown and his first show with Blum & Poe. He is presenting new colored pencil and graphite drawings that explore phonetics through color and form.
BARKLEY L. HENDRICKS (1945-2017), “Down Home Taste,” 1971 (oil and acrylic on linen). | Courtesy Speed Art Museum, Louisville, Ky.
“Southern Accent: Seeking the American South in Contemporary Art” @ Speed Art Museum, Louisville, Ky. | April 30-Oct. 14, 2017
Promoted as the first contemporary art show “question and explore in-depth the complex and contested space of the American South,” this compelling exhibition features a music listening library and works in a variety of mediums by about 60 artists, including Barkley L. Hendricks, Terry Adkins, Benny Andrews, Sanford Biggers, Beverly Buchanan, Theaster Gates, Deborah Grant, Tameka Norris, Ebony G. Patterson, Fahamu Pecou, Amy Sherald, and Carrie Mae Weems. CT