THE NEW EXHIBITION SEASON IS UNDERWAY and fall’s most anticipated museum and gallery shows are opening soon. In the coming months, 16 exhibitions will feature highly regarded and innovative black artists working across a range of mediums.

Chris Ofili’s first major solo museum exhibition in the United States opens at the New Museum on Oct. 29. Mark Bradford is exhibiting new work at the Rose Art Museum and Jack Whitten has a solo show at the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego. Joyce C. Scott’s bead and glass works will be on view at the Museum of Arts and Design.

From Glenn Ligon and Kerry James Marshall to Fred Wilson and Mickalene Thomas, artists are presenting work in Los Angeles, Chicago, New York, London and points in between:

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“Golden Boy,” 2014 (mixed media including concrete garden ornament, vintage high chair, dildo, and holiday candles) by Nick Cave | Courtesy the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York, Photo by James Prinz Photography. © Nick Cave

 

SEPTEMBER

1. NICK CAVE “Rescue” and “Made for Whites by Whites”
Jack Shainman Gallery, New York | Sept. 4 – Oct. 11, 2014
Known for his celebrated Sound Suits, Chicago-based Nick Cave is taking his practice in new directions. A pair of exhibitions “Rescue” and “Made for Whites by Whites” featuring his latest mixed-media sculptures, occupies both Chelsea locations of Jack Shainman Gallery. Composed of both benign and racially charged found objects, the inspired works are heavy with symbolism.

 

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“Sea Pig,” 2014 (collage/mixed media, 6 buoys) by Mark Bradford | Courtesy the artist.

 

2. MARK BRADFORD: Sea Monsters
Rose Art Museum at Brandeis University, Waltham, Mass. | Sept. 11 – Dec. 21, 2014
In August, Mark Bradford joined the board of advisors at the Rose Art Museum where he is showing a new series of mixed-media collage paintings. Employing his standard materials—paint and the flyers and advertisements he finds displayed around his South Central Los Angeles neighborhood—his latest body of work is inspired by 16th and 17th century sea maps and the foreboding mysteries that lie beneath the waters.

 

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“Untitled (African Union),” 2011 (acrylic on canvas, edition of 3) by Fred Wilson | Courtesy Pace Gallery

 

3. “FRED WILSON: Sculptures, Paintings, and Installations: 2004 – 2014”
Pace Gallery, New York | Sept 12 – Oct 18, 2014
Using existing objects in new contexts, Brooklyn-based Fred Wilson raises challenging questions about race, history and culture. His latest exhibition focuses on works from the past decade and for the first time presents his series of African and African Diaspora flags in its entirety. Wilson removes the color from each nation’s flag and replaces all of the graphic design elements—stars, stripes and symbols—with black acrylic paint on raw canvas.

 

4. NORMAN LEWIS “From the Margins: Lee Krasner and Norman Lewis, 1945-52”
Jewish Museum, New York | Sept. 12 – Feb. 1, 2015
The work of highly regarded Abstract Expressionist Norman Lewis (1909-1979) was generally ignored by mainstream collectors and critics during his lifetime. He grew up in Harlem with parents who were immigrants from the Bahamas. In the decades since his death, plaudits have gradually emerged and the value of his work is escalating. “From the Margins” at the Jewish Museum juxtaposes his paintings with those of a contemporary, painter Lee Krasner (1908-1984), who was from a Russian Jewish immigrant family in Brooklyn and experienced a similar professional reception.

“From the Margins” brings together two artists who “experimented with approaches that joined abstraction and cultural specificity.”
— The Jewish Museum

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“The Long Dream,” 2014 (burned red oak flooring, black soap, wax, spray enamel, vinyl, steel, bamboo, shea butter, books, plants, mirrored planter) by Rashid Johnson | Courtesy of David Kordansky Gallery, Los Angeles, Photo by Martin Parsek

 

5. RASHID JOHNSON: Islands
David Kordansky Gallery, Los Angeles | Sept. 13 – Oct. 29, 2014
On view at both of David Kordansky’s exhibition spaces, Rashid Johnson’s new sculptures will be installed on the floors and the walls. Composed of a vast array of materials, both structural and narrative, the works were inspired by Richard Wright’s “Native Son.”

“Broadly taking a cue from Richard Wright’s novel ‘Native Son’, and its antiheroic characterization of the African-American male, the sculptures embody an extreme unbound energy. In structure, material, and process, they express a tension unprecedented in [Rashid] Johnson’s practice.”
— David Kordansky Gallery

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“The Sisters Zénaïde and Charlotte Bonaparte (The World Stage: Haiti),” 2014 (oil on canvas) by Kehinde Wiley | Courtesy the artist and Roberts & Tilton

 

6. KEHINDE WILEY “The World Stage: Haiti”
Roberts & Tilton, Culver City, Calif. | Sept. 13 – Oct. 25, 2014
Haiti is the latest subject of Kehinde Wiley’s global survey of Asia, Africa, Latin America, the Caribbean and the Middle East, where he has portrayed the people and the culture of each destination. “The World Stage: Haiti” at Roberts & Tilton Gallery features 12 paintings. Wiley, whose portraits generally focus on young “urban” men depicted against elaborate textile patterns and decorative backgrounds, includes their female counterparts in this series and adorns the paintings with images of Haitian vegetation.

 

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“Her mother’s necklace,” 2014 by Mickalene Thomas | Courtesy the artist

 

7. MICKALENE THOMAS “I was born to do great things”
Kavi Gupta, Chicago | Sept. 19 – Nov. 15, 2014
For her first exhibition at Kavi Gupta since joining the gallery in March, Mickalene Thomas is paying homage to her late mother and muse Sandra Bush—the inspiration for her glittering tributes to the beauty and power of women’s bodies and the subject of her 2012 HBO film. “I was born to do great things” offers a portrait of Bush through a collection of bronze works cast from her clothing and jewelry, personal items that hold special meaning for both mother and daughter.

 

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Stills from “Chess,” 2013 (HD video installation with three projections, black & white, sound, 10:25 minutes loop) by Lorna Simpson | Courtesy the artist; Salon 94, New York; and Galerie Nathalie Obadia, Paris/Brussels. © Lorna Simpson

 

8. LORNA SIMPSON: A Retropspective
Addison Gallery of American Art at Phillips Academy, Andover, Mass. | Sept. 20, 2014 – Jan. 4, 2015
An incredibly comprehensive retrospective, “Lorna Simpson” gathers more than three decades of the artist’s photography and video works, probing distillations that question and recast standard notions of race, gender, identity and memory. On view last year at Jeu de Paume in Paris (Simpon’s first European exhibition), the presentation at Addison Gallery features “Chess,” 2013, a three-channel video installation making its U.S. debut.

 

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“Apps for Obama,” 2011 (acrylic on hollow core door) | Courtesy MCASD, Collection of Danny Fiest, Los Angeles. © Jack Whitten

 

9. “JACK WHITTEN: Five Decades of Painting”
Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, La Jolla, Calif. | Sept. 20, 2014 – Jan. 4, 2015
Jack Whitten’s approach to abstraction is distinct, defined by his career-long commitment to evolving his practice. He “explores the possibilities of paint, the role of the artist, and the allure of material essence.” Featuring about 60 works, “Five Decades of Painting,” demonstrates that beyond innovation, content remains paramount to Whitten—from his contemplations of the violent tenor of the civil rights movement in the 1960s, to his more recent “Apps for Obama,” a gesture to the president.

 

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“Lewd #2,” 2013 (hand-blown Murano glass processes with beads, wire, thread) by Joyce J. Scott | Courtesy Goya Contemporary. Photo by Michael Koryta

 

10. JOYCE C. SCOTT “Maryland to Murano” Neckpieces and Sculptures by Joyce J. Scott
Museum of Arts and Design, New York | Sept. 30, 2014 to March 22, 2015
Joyce C. Scott’s exquisitely rendered bead and glass works are steeped in provocative narratives and sociopolitical commentary about racism and sexism. Featuring 50 works, “Maryland to Murano” is the first exhibition to pair the beaded neckpieces and wall hangings Scott constructs in her Baltimore studio—her foundational work—with the blown glass sculptures she has created over the past five years in Murano, Italy.

“This exhibition demonstrates the interplay between these two bodies of work and reveals the range of [Joyce] Scott’s technique and skill as well as the complex relationship she has shaped among adornment, content and methodology.” — Museum of Arts and Design

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“Come Out Study #1” by Glenn Ligon | Courtesy Thomas Dane Gallery. © Glenn Ligon

 

OCTOBER

11. GLENN LIGON “Call and Response”
Camden Arts Centre, London | Oct. 10, 2014 – Jan. 11, 2015
Glenn Ligon’s “Call and Response” considers matters of race, representation, assumptions and language through a series of new works. The testimony of the Harlem Six, a half a dozen black youth arrested for murder during the 1964 Harlem race riots was the genesis for his latest series of text-based paintings. The exhibition also features a neon work described as being “suspended so visitors can walk amongst” it and a multi-screen video featuring Richard Pryor.

 

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“The Life of Toussaint L’Ouverture, No. 20: General Toussaint L’Ouverture, Statesman and military genius, esteemed by the Spaniards, feared by the English, dreaded by the French, hated by the planters, and reverenced by the Blacks,” 1938 (Tempera on paper) by Jacob Lawrence | Courtesy Amistad Research Center, Tulane University, New Orleans, Aaron Douglas Collection

 

12. JACOB LAWRENCE: Toussaint L’Overture Series
The Cleveland Museum of Art | Oct. 11, 2014 – Jan. 4, 2015
Early in his career, Jacob Lawrence (1917-2000) repeatedly probed the history of black perseverance. Before he painted multi-paneled series about Frederick Douglass, Harriet Tubman, and the black migration from the American South to the industrial North, he created “The Life of Toussaint L’Ouverture” between 1936-38. The 41-panel series and corresponding narrative captions animate L’Ouverture’s command of the Haitian Revolution.

 

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“Crowning moment,” 2014 (acrylic on PVC panel) by Kerry James Marshall via David Zwirner London

 

13. KERRY JAMES MARSHALL “Look See”
David Zwirner, London | Oct. 11 – Nov. 22, 2014
Kerry James Marshall is presenting a new works that “collectively examine notions of observing, witnessing, and exhibiting,” paintings in which the subject is looking away or otherwise disengaging with the standard reflexive relationship of looking and seeing. The paintings are a comment on the traditional roles of power, passivity and defiance. “Look See”  is Marshall’s first exhibition at David Zwirner since he joined the London gallery in June and his first solo show in the city in nearly a decade.

 

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“Afronirvana,” 2002 (oil, acrylic, polyester resin, aluminum foil, glitter, map pins, and elephant dung on canvas) by Chris Ofili | Courtesy the artist, David Zwirner, New York/London, and Victoria Miro, London. © Chris Ofili

 

14. “CHRIS OFILI: Night and Day”
The New Museum, New York | Oct. 29, 2014 – Feb. 1, 2015 (extended to Feb. 1)
Internationally regarded artist Chris Ofili is taking over the New Museum. “Night and Day,” his first major solo museum exhibition in the United States will be presented on all three gallery floors and survey his entire career. Exploring race and gender issues through cultural and historical references, his vast and varied oeuvre is both provocative and celebratory, melding “figuration, abstraction and decoration.” More than 30 paintings, numerous drawings and several sculptures will be on view.

 

NOVEMBER

15. “Speaking of People: Ebony, Jet and Contemporary Art”
Studio Museum in Harlem, New York | Nov. 13, 2014 – March 8, 2015
Founded in 1945 and 1951 respectively, Ebony and Jet magazines, historically, were cherished in countless black households. The images in the publications represented aspirational standards of beauty and success to nearly three generations. “Speaking of People” examines the ways in which contemporary artists including Jeremy Okai Davis, Margaret Gallagher, Kerry James Marshall, Lorna Simpson, Martine Syms and Purvis Young are developing concepts around and incorporating the symbolic images in their work.

 

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“Department Store, Mobile, Alabama,” 1956 by Gordon Parks | Courtesy of and copyright The Gordon Parks Foundation

 

16. “GORDON PARKS: Segregation Story”
High Museum, Atlanta | Nov. 15, 2014 – June 7, 2015
America had grown accustomed to black-and-white images of segregation when legendary photographer Gordon Parks published a color portfolio in Life magazine documenting the indignities of the Jim Crow South. In 1956, Parks traveled to Shady Grove, Ala., where he spent time photographing the members of an ordinary African American family. The High Museum’s presentation of “Gordon Parks: Segregation Story” features the entire series of more than 40 images on view for the first time. CT

 

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