NEW U.S. ART MUSEUM and institutional exhibitions opening in October include solo shows of Conrad Egyir in San Jose, Betye Saar in Miami, Thaddeus Mosley in Baltimore, and Jennifer Packer in New York. A visit to the Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C., will make efficient use of your time, with three must-see shows opening this month—retrospectives of Alma Thomas and David Driskell and an exhibition of new works by Sanford Biggers that connects his practice to art from the museum’s collection. In addition to the Thomas and Driskell shows, traveling exhibitions of Emma Amos, Kwame Brathwaite, fashion designer Patrick Kelly, and “30 Americans” are also being presented in new venues.

An exhibition dedicated to Romare Bearden‘s abstractions is on view at the Gibbes Museum of Art in Charleston, S.C. A couple of public art installations by Thomas J. Price and Abigail DeVille debut this month and a retrospective of Milford Graves at Artists Space, is hosted by the nonprofit organization in New York. The selections below also include the long-awaited arrival of Prospect 5, the New Orleans triennial. Performa, New York’s performance biennial; the New Museum triennial; and Greater New York at MoMA PS1 are also opening:


CONRAD EGYIR, “Above your head I hold a crown, I challenge you to grow into it and wear it,” 2021 (oil and acrylic on canvas, wood panel, and African wood sculpture, 120 x 102 inches). | © Conrad Egyir, The John and Susan Horseman Collection, Courtesy of the Horseman Foundation

“Conrad Egyir: Chapters of Light” @ Institute of Contemporary Art San Jose in San Jose, Calif. | Oct. 1, 2021-Sept. 18, 2022

Conrad Egyir makes portraits of his close friends and family and the occasional self portrait. The Detroit-based, Ghana-born artist employs shaped canvases and relief elements in order to present his paintings in postcard or postage stamp form symbolizing migration. His works also visually reference books, journals, and tabbed notebooks alluding to the passage of time and documentation of ideas. His largest solo exhibition to date and his first on the West Coast, the show is accompanied by “Conrad Egyir: A Chapter of Love,” a facade project installed on the exterior of the San Jose museum.


Installation view of MARCIA KURE, “Network” 2021, Menil Drawing Institute, Menil Collection, Houston, Texas. | Photo by Paul Hester

Wall Drawing Series: Marcia Kure @ Menil Collection, Houston, Texas | Oct. 1, 2021-August 2022

“Network,” the third installation of an ongoing series of wall drawings in the entry space at the Menil Drawing Institute is by artist Marcia Kure (b. 1970), whose work is informed by a variety of issues, including colonial legacies and diasporic identities. She “explores line as concept, form, and experience” and is recognized for “her use of natural, plant-based pigments extracted from kola nuts, indigo, coffee, and charcoal.” Born in Nigeria, Kure splits her time between Princeton, N.J., and Abuja and Kaduna, Nigeria.


THOMAS J. PRICE’s exhibition “Witness” is part of the Studio Museum in Harlem’s InHarlem public art series. | Courtesy the artist and Studio Museum in Harlem

“InHarlem – Thomas Price: Witness,” @ Marcus Garvey Park, Harlem, N.Y. | Oct. 2, 2021-Oct. 1, 2022

For his first solo institutional exhibition in the United States, British sculptor Thomas J. Price is presenting “The Distance Within” (2021), a continuation of “his exploration of Blackness and Black masculinity on monumental scales.” Standing nine-feet-tall, the bronze figure is a contemporary image of a young Black man glancing down at his smart phone. On view in Marcus Garvey Park in Harlem, the exhibition is part of the Studio Museum in Harlem’s InHarlem public art series.


SHARIF BEY, “Dippermouth,” 2019 (earthenware, nails, and mixed media, 16 5/8 × 20 1/4 × 7 1/2 inches / 42.23 × 51.44 × 19.05 cm). | Carnegie Museum of Art, Gift of Merlin C. Hamilton, by exchange © Sharif Bey

“Sharif Bey: Excavations” @ Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, Pa. | Oct. 2, 2021–March 6, 2022

Drawing on his family’s history of enslavement and displacement, artist and educator Sharif Bey imbues his sculptural works with ancestral identity. Informed by his exploration of the collections of the Carnegie Museums of Art and Natural History, which he first encountered during childhood, he is presenting “mask-like forms, necklaces made from pinch pot-style vessels as beads, and site-specific temporary installations” that incorporate objects from the natural history museum.


Installation view of works by CURTIS CUFFIE, Greater New York 2021, MoMA PS1 (Oct. 7, 2021-April 18, 2022). | Courtesy MoMA PS1. Photo by Noel Woodford

Greater New York 2021 @ MoMA PS1, Queens, New York, N.Y. | Oct. 7, 2021-April 18, 2022

MOMA PS1 is presenting the fifth edition of Greater New York. Surveying the state of art making in the city, the exhibition features 47 artists and collectives living and working in New York, including BlackMass Publishing (est. 2018); Curtis Cuffie (1955-2002); Rotimi Fani-Kayode (1955-1989); Raque Ford (b. 1986); Milford Graves (1941-2021); Carolyn Lazard (b. 1987); Sean-Kierre Lyons (b. 1991); Marilyn Nance (b. 1953); Kayode Ojo (b. 1990); Andy Robert (b.1984); and Stanley Wolukau-Wanambwa (b. 1980). Serubiri Moses is among the curators who organized the exhibition.


KWAME BRATHWAITE, “Untitled (Photo shoot at a public school for one of the AJASS-associated modeling groups that that emulated the Grandassa Models and began to embrace natural hairstyles in the 1960s, Halem,” circa 1966. | Courtesy the artist and Philip Martin Gallery, Los Angeles

“Black Is Beautiful: The Photography of Kwame Brathwaite” @ Detroit Institute of Arts in Detroit, Mich. | Oct 8, 2021-Jan. 16, 2022

Half a century ago, Kwame Brathwaite made studio portraits of models with perfectly coiffed afros and captured street shots of models at Marcus Garvey Day Parades in Harlem. He made it his business to photograph Black people. His photographs of women and men with natural hair, full lips, and a range of skin tones and body shapes, illustrated the Black is Beautiful movement. More than 40 of his striking images are featured in this show, the first major exhibition dedicated to his practice, which has traveled to venues nationwide.


MARY SIBANDE, “The Domba Dance,” 2019 (fiberglass, bronze, cotton fabric, and silicone, 157 1/2 x 98 3/8 x 118 1/8 inches). | © Mary Sibande, Courtesy of the artist and Kavi Gupta Gallery, Chicago. Photo by Anthea Pokroy

“Mary Sibande: Blue Purple Red” @ Frist Art Museum, Nashville, Tenn. | Oct. 8, 2021-Jan. 2, 2022

Johannesburg-based artist Mary Sibande confronts the inequality faced by women in terms of race, gender, and economics through hyperrealistic sculptures and photographs. She uses color to imbue her works with meaning and symbolism that reflect South Africa’s political history: blue indicating working-class employment; purple referencing the political hope that emerged at the end of apartheid; and red alluding the anger felt as poverty and corruption continues.


MILFORD GRAVES, “Yara in the dojo,” circa 1970s. | © Milford Graves, Courtesy the Estate of Milford Graves

“Milford Graves: Fundamental Frequency” @ Artists Space, New York, N.Y. | Oct. 8, 2021-Jan. 8, 2022

This expansive exhibition and concurrent event series is a retrospective of artist and jazz drummer Milford Graves (1941-2021) who was an “innovative and revolutionary force in radical music making” dating back the the mid-1960s. He died in February at age 79. The exhibition, which includes photographic and film documentation of his live performances, Graves’s hand-painted album covers, multimedia sculptures, ephemera, and more, is presented in collaboration with Mark Christman and Ars Nova Workshop in Philadelphia and builds upon the exhibition “Milford Graves: A Mind-Body Deal” on view last year at ICA Philadelphia.


From left, NICK CAVE, Soundsuit, 2008 (fabric, fiberglass and metal, 102 x 36 28 inches / 259 x 91.5 x 71 cm). | © Nick Cave, Courtesy Rubell Museum, Miami; NINA CHANEL ABNEY, “Khaaliqua & Jeff,” 2007 (acrylic on canvas, 61 x 63 3/4 inches / 155 x 162 cm). | © Nina Chanel Abney. Courtesy Rubell Museum Miami)

“30 Americans” @ Columbia Museum of Art, Columbia, S.C. | Oct. 9, 2021-Jan. 17, 2022

First presented in 2008 by the Rubell Family Collection and on the road since 2011, this pivotal exhibition features works by 30 of the most important African American contemporary artists active between the 1980s and 2000s, including Nina Chanel Abney, Jean-Michel Basquiat (1960-1988), Mark Bradford, Nick Cave, Robert Colescott (1925-2009), Noah Davis (1983-2015), David Hammons, Barkley L. Hendricks (1945-2017), Glenn Ligon, Kerry James Marshall, Wangechi Mutu, William Pope.L, Lorna Simpson, Henry Taylor, Mickalene Thomas, Carrie Mae Weems, and Kehinde Wiley.


Installation view of SONDRA PERRY, “Typhoon coming on, 2018, Serpentine Sackler Gallery, London, 2018. | Photo by Mike Din, Courtesy of the artist

“No Humans Involved” @ Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, Calif. | Oct. 10, 2021–Jan. 9, 2022

Inspired by “‘No Humans Involved’: An Open Letter to My Colleagues” (1992), a seminal text by Jamaican scholar and theorist Sylvia Wynter, curator Erin Christovale organized this exhibition featuring artists Eddie Aparicio, Tau Lewis, Las Nietas de Nonó, Sondra Perry, SANGREE, WangShui, and Wilmer Wilson IV, whose work “interrogates and disrupts Western modes of humanism.”


EMMA AMOS, “Targets,” 1989 (acrylic on canvas with hand-woven fabric and African fabric borders, 57 x 73 1/2 inches / 144.8 x 186.7 cm). | © Emma Amos, Courtesy Estate of the artist and Ryan Lee Gallery

“Emma Amos: Color Odyssey” @ Philadelphia Museum of Art in Philadelphia, Pa. | Oct. 11, 2021–Jan. 17, 2022

Emma Amos (1937-2020) explored and challenged race, class, and gender norms in both her work and career. Her works reference color-field painting, employ photo transfer techniques, and are trimmed in African fabrics. Organized by the Georgia Museum of Art, this in-depth, career-spanning examination of her life and practice, presents about 60 works, including paintings, prints, and woven works.


KEVIN BEASLEY is among the artists who have been commissioned to create new works for Performa 2021. His performance, “The Sound of Morning,” will take place on the Lower East Side at the intersection of Orchard and Rivington. | Courtesy the artist and Performa

Performa 2021 Biennial @ Various Venues, New York, N.Y. | Oct. 12-Oct. 31, 2021

The ninth edition of New York’s performance biennial includes newly commissioned works by Kevin Beasley, Danielle Dean, Tschabalala Self, and Shikeith, and among other artists.


ABIGAIL DEVILLE shown with “Light of Freedom,” 2020 (welded Steel, cabling, rusted metal ball, painted mannequin arms, painted metal scaffolding, wood, 156 x 96 x 96 inches), Madison Square Park, New York City (Oct. 27, 2020-Jan. 31, 2021). | © 2020 Abigail Deville. Courtesy Madison Park Conservancy, Photo by Tonje Thilesen

“Abigail DeVille: Light of Freedom” @ Hirshhorn Museum & Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C. | Oct. 15, 2021-April 17, 2022

After debuting in Madison Square Park in New York, Abigail DeVille‘s monument to liberty and freedom will be on view in Washington, D.C. Responding to the Black Lives Matter Movement, the 13-foot tall work is a hollow framed torch filled with blue arms. The concept references an 1876 photograph that shows the disembodied hand of Frédéric-Auguste Bartholdi’s Statue of Liberty in Madison Square Park.


ROMARE BEARDEN, “River Mist,” 1962 (mixed media, 54 x 40 inches). | Romare Bearden Foundation, Courtesy of DC Moore Gallery, NY, Art © Romare Bearden Foundation/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY via Neuberger Museum of Art

“Romare Bearden: Abstraction” @ Gibbes Museum of Art, Charleston, S.C. | Oct. 15, 2021-Jan. 9, 2022

A fascinating presentation of Romare Bearden, this exhibition is the first museum presentation to “fully examine and contextualize” the artist’s abstract work. Approximately 55 paintings, collages, and works on paper are featured in the traveling show which will also make stops at the University of Michigan Museum of Art in Ann Arbor, Mich., and the Frye Art Museum in Seattle.


BEAUFORD DELANEY, “Can Fire in the Park,” 1946 (oil on canvas). | Smithsonian American Art Museum, museum purchase

“African American Art in the 20th Century” @ Hudson River Museum, Yonkers, N.Y. | Oct. 15, 2021–Jan. 16, 2022

Presenting works by 34 artists who first gained recognition during Harlem Renaissance through the Civil Rights Movement, this unique survey features 43 paintings and sculptures drawn from the collection of the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Represented artists include Benny Andrews, Beauford Delaney, William H. Johnson, Jacob Lawrence, Whitfield Lovell, Sargent Johnson, Loïs Mailou Jones, Romare Bearden, Sam Gilliam, Delilah Pierce, and Felrath Hines, among others.


Sanford Biggers working in his studio. | Photo courtesy the artist

“Intersections – Sanford Biggers: Mosaic” @ Phillips Collection | Oct. 16, 2021-Jan. 2, 2022

Engaging with works from the Phillips Collection as a source of inspiration (five Gee’s Bend quilts and works by August Rodin, Pablo Picasso, A. R. Penck, and Markus Lupertz), Sanford Biggers created a new body of work. The presentation includes a sculptural quilt, site-specific floor installation involving sand, and large marble sculpture of a hybrid figure.


DAVID DRISKELL, “Woman with Flowers,” 1972 (oil and collage on canvas, 37 1/2 x 38 1/2 inches). | Art Bridges, Bentonville, Ark.

“David Driskell: Icons of Nature” @ Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C. | Oct. 16, 2021-Jan. 9, 2022

Presenting an overview of the illustrious 60-year career of David Driskell (1931-2020), this exhibition celebrates highlights of his oeuvre, across painting, printmaking and collage, with about 60 works dating from 1953 to 2011. After presentations at the High Museum in Atlanta and Portland Museum of Art in Maine, the exhibition travels to Washington, D.C., the area where Driskell lived at worked for decades at the end of his career.


Thaddeus Mosley, “Tatum Scales,” 2020 | © Thaddeus Mosley. Courtesy of the Artist, Image Courtesy the artist and Karma, New York

“Thaddeus Mosley: Forest” @ Baltimore Museum of Art in Baltimore, Md. | Oct.17, 2021-March 27, 2022

Working with felled timber, Pittsburgh sculptor Thaddeus Mosley “transforms wood into inventive abstract forms that source inspiration from the art of the African diaspora, jazz, and the European modernist avant-garde.” Five of his recent large-scale sculptures are on view.


TIONA NEKKIA MCCLODDEN, “Be Alarmed: The Black Americana Epic, Movement I – The Visions,” 2014 (single-channel video, HD 1920 x 1080, 10 min., 48 sec. | © Tiona Nekkia McClodden. Courtesy the artist

“Prospect 5 New Orleans: Yesterday We Said Tomorrow” @ Various Venues, New Orleans, La. | Oct. 23, 2021-Jan. 23, 2022

Delayed one year due to the pandemic, Prospect 5, the contemporary art triennial will take place in venues throughout New Orleans. With Naima J. Keith and Diana Nawi serving as artistic directors, more than 50 international artist are participating, including Paul Stephen Benjamin, Dawoud Bey, Willie Birch, Mark Bradford, Beverly Buchanan (1940-2015), Barbara Chase-Riboud, Jamal Cyrus, Karon Davis, EJ Hill, Jennie C. Jones, Simone Leigh, Tau Lewis, Glenn Ligon, Tiona Nekkia McClodden, Rodney McMillian, Wangechi Mutu, Malcolm Peacock, and Naudline Pierre.


Patrick Kelly with models wearing his Spring/Summer 1989 designs. | Courtesy de Young museum, Photo by Oliviero Toscan

“Patrick Kelly: Runway of Love” @ de Young Museum, San Francisco, Calif. | Oct. 23, 2021- April 24, 2022

Organized by the Philadelphia Museum of Art in 2014, this exhibition celebrates the legacy and trailblazing career of fashion designer Patrick Kelly (1954–1990), presenting more than 80 of his joyful designs.


RAMELL ROSS, “Man,” 2019 (archival pigment print, 46 x 60 inches). | © RaMell Ross, Courtesy the Artist

“Spell, Time, Practice, American, Body: The Work of RaMell Ross” @ Ogden Museum of Southern Art | Oct. 23, 2021-March 27, 2022

RaMell Ross, whose work covers the exhibition catalog for “The Dirty South: Contemporary Art, Material Culture, and the Sonic Impulse,” showcases his contemporary documentation of Hale County, Ala., employing large-format photography and film, presented alongside sculpture and installation.


AARON DOUGLAS, “Into Bondage,” 1936 (oil on canvas). | © Heirs of Aaron Douglas. National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., Corcoran Collection, Museum purchase and partial gift from Thurlow Evans Tibbs Jr., the Evans-Tibbs Collection

“Afro-Atlantic Histories” @ Museum of Fine Arts, Houston in Houston, Texas | Oct. 24, 2021–Jan. 17, 2022

Presented in Brazil in 2018, this landmark exhibition explores the interconnected histories of the African diaspora The ambitious and expansive show spans mediums, geographies, and eras, and originally included 450 works by 214 artists from Africa, the Americas, the Caribbean, and Europe. This scaled down version will present 140 works spanning the 17th to 21st centuries. After its U.S. debut at MFA Houston, the exhibition will travel to the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., in spring 2022.


BETYE SAAR, Installation view of “Resurrection,” 1988, California State University Fullerton. | Courtesy the artist and Roberts Projects Los Angeles

“Betye Saar: Serious Moonlight” @ Institute of Contemporary Art Miami in Miami, Fla. | Oct. 28, 2021-April 17, 2022

Presenting a rare opportunity to see Los Angeles artist Betye Saar‘s immersive, site-specific installations from 1980 to 1998, this survey features many recently rediscovered works on view for the first time in decades.


KRISTA CLARK, “Annotations on Shelter 3 & 4,” 2020 (wood, concrete, windowpanes, drywall, bungee cord, tent, and work light, dimensions variable). | Courtesy the artist. Photo: Mohammad Jahangir

New Museum Triennial: Soft Water Hard Stone @ New Museum, New York, N.Y. | Oct. 28, 2021-Jan. 23, 2022

The fifth New Museum triennial is named for a Brazilian proverb. “Soft Water Hard Stone” gathers work spanning many mediums by an international slate of 40 artists and collectives, including Gaëlle Choisne (b. 1985, France, based in Paris); Krista Clark (b. 1975, Burlington, Vt., based in Atlanta); Kahlil Robert Irving (b. 1992 San Diego, Calif., based in St. Louis, Mo.); Sandra Mujinga (b. 1989 Goma, Democratic Republic of the Congo, based in Oslo, Norway, and Berlin, Germany); Brandon Ndife (b. 1991 Hammond, Ind., based in Brooklyn, N.Y.); Ima-Abasi Okon (b. 1981 London, UK, based in London, and Amsterdam, the Netherlands); and Nickola Pottinger (b. 1986 Kingston, Jamaica, based in New York, N.Y.). The exhibition is co-curated by Jamillah James, senior curator at The Institute of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (ICA LA).


JENNIFER PACKER, “The Body Has a Memory,” 2018 (oil on canvas; Overall: 60 × 48 inches / 152.4 × 121.9 cm). | © Jennifer Packer, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Promised gift of Miyoung Lee and Neil Simpkins. P.2019.7

“Jennifer Packer: The Eye is Not Satisfied With Seeing” @ Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, N.Y. | Oct. 30, 2021-April 2022

Traveling from Serpentine Galleries in London, where it debuted earlier this year, this exhibition features more than 30 works produced over the past decade, representing Jennifer’s Packer‘s largest show to date and her first solo museum exhibition in New York.


ALMA THOMAS, “Pansies in Washington, 1969 (acrylic on canvas, 50 x 48 inches). | National Gallery of Art, Corcoran Collection, Washington, D.C., Gift of Vincent Melzac

“Alma Thomas: Everything is Beautiful” @ Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C. | Oct. 30, 2021-Jan. 23, 2022

After debuting at the Chrysler Museum of Art in Norfolk, Va., the first exhibition to consider the full spectrum of Alma Thomas‘s creativity—from her celebrated abstract paintings to her love of fashion, gardening, teaching, marionettes, and more—travels to her adopted hometown of Washington, D.C. CT


Catalogs accompany several of the exhibition featured above, including “Alma W. Thomas: Everything Is Beautiful,” “Emma Amos: Color Odyssey,” “David Driskell: Icons of Nature and History,” and “Kwame Brathwaite: Black Is Beautiful.” Featuring an essay by Lowery Stokes Sims, “Romare Bearden: Abstraction” was published by DC Moore Gallery in New York. “African American Art: Harlem Renaissance, The Civil Rights Era, and Beyond” illustrates the traveling exhibition drawn from the collection of the Smithsonian American Art Museum.
“Jennifer Packer: The Eye Is Not Satisfied with Seeing” and “Patrick Kelly: Runway of Love” are forthcoming in November.


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