At the beginning of the past year and a half, with the art calendar tanking—museums closed, galleries closed—I found myself in optimistic mode. I began to see the disruption not as a setback but as an opportunity, an enforced re-adjustment of balance. A new normal that is really new.
Sure, some big shows have been canceled, or postponed, or called off due to COVID-19. But blockbusters will always be with us. I’m looking forward to the delayed one from last season, “Jasper Johns: Mind/Mirror,” A career retrospective of the studiously mystical artist, which will span two institutions, the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Philadelphia Museum of Art, this fall. (September 29-February 13, 2022).
But I’m looking forward with even more joy to two short solo polls by artists that are less widely celebrated. One, “Hung Liu: Portraits of the Promised Lands” At the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery in Washington DC, there is the first substantial East Coast look of a California painter who trained in China during the Cultural Revolution, immigrated to the United States in 1984, and transformed a socialist realist style with a focus on mental . The complexities of the immigrant experience. (by May 30, 2022).
“Yolanda Lopez: Portrait of the Artist” The Museum of Contemporary Art in San Diego is another long-pending career tribute (October 16-April 24, 2022). With roots in the Chicano art movement of the 1970s and ’80s, López has produced anti-colonial, pro-feminist work of tremendous warmth and vitality. Her 1978 self-portrait painting as the marathon-running Virgin of Guadalupe is one of the great images of revolutionary bliss.
(Liu and both lopez He died just weeks before his exhibitions opened this summer.)
The season brings a bounty of museum group shows of works by women. From California, which gave us the benchmark of 2007 “WACK! Art and the Feminist Revolution,” Come Two:”New Times: Art and Feminism in the 21st Centuryat the Berkeley Art Museum and the Pacific Film Archive (as of January 30, 2022), and “witch hunt” at the Hammer Museum and Institute of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles. Originally scheduled to coincide with the 2020 presidential election, the Los Angeles show will include the work of transgender artists (including redoubtable Vaginal Davis) who chant “WACK!” Released (October 10-January 9, 2022).
The past decade has given us reason to wonder what became the international art energy of the 80s and 90s, when it seemed, everyone was watching everything on the planet and there was an eclectic vibe. There are some marquee-scale “non-Western” shows this season: “Afro-Atlantic Histories”, a journey from So Paulo, Brazil to the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, is a staple. But, overall, the numbers are slim, so it makes up for the short show of unfamiliar content that we’ll see in a global perspective.
At a time when post-Civil War black history is being rewritten, museums in the American South are doing extraordinary things. In 2018, that history story took a huge leap forward with the inaugural The Legacy Museum: From Slavery to Mass Incarceration, created by the Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery, Ala. A larger version of the museum – four times the size of the original and with a significantly expanded contemporary art presence – is slated to open on October 1.
I “A.” will also check Movement in Every Direction: The Legacy of the Great Migration, an exhibition commemorating the resettlement of more than six million African Americans from the rural South to cities across the United States from the early 20th century to the 1970s. The show, composed of the work of a dozen black artists with Southern ties, including Mark Bradford, Theaster Gates and Carrie May Weems, is hosted by two entrepreneurial institutions, the Mississippi Museum of Art in Jackson (where it opens in April 2022) , and the Baltimore Museum of Art (where it opens in October 2022).
And entrepreneurship is what arts institutions need to be at a time when the pandemic continues and – the 2020 Census tells us – US population continues to change.
Contemporary artists were among the black immigrants who moved north in the ’70s, who found no place to plunge into New York’s vast white art world until a young dealer, Linda Goode Bryant, created a welcoming gallery and helped transform the nation’s cultural landscape with his Just Above Midtown. Gallery in Manhattan.
Bryant is still hard at work. I look forward to seeing what she does in this “Raw Academy Season 9: Infrastructure,” She will direct a project at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia, beginning February 2022. The Raw Material Company, based in Dakar, Senegal, is one of Africa’s leading experimental art venues. For the project, RAW’s Dakar staff will temporarily join Bryant and an international roster of curators and artists in Philadelphia to deliberate on how the museum can be a streamlined event for artists and audiences alike. May be more useful in the world.
There’s no prediction what kind of show – if any at all – will result. And unpredictability is the positive starting principle behind another institutional initiative this season, “Year of Uncertainty” at the Queens Museum.
Responding to the challenge of “normal” created by the COVID crisis, and a claim of proposition that “not normal” may be a healthy direction to take, the museum will call on Queens political activists, community organizations and the local public – artists of their own. as well as to shape what the organization does and whom it serves.
In the process, all definitions of art, audience and museum will be up in the air. What kind of shape they take when they land, who knows? But I want to be there when they do.