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Top picks in the world of art museum exhibits this fall

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The start of the autumn sees high culture kick into high gear. And because so many art museums offer free admission, in lots of cases, this is a luxury open to all. Here are over a dozen art museum exhibits opening soon that we would love to see in the fall of 2018 — if time and our travel budget would permit it, we’d visit all of these before the end of November and the beginning of the holiday crush. At least we can dream. How about you? What’s on your list?

1. Andy Warhol — From A to B and Back Again at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City will trace the pop artist’s work as it evolved, through various mediums, over his career. This is the first Warhol retrospective organized in the U.S. since 1989, and more than 350 works will be on display — some shown together for the first time. The survey includes some never-before-shown experimental pieces and takes its title from Warhol’s 1975 book, The Philosophy of Andy Warhol (From A to B and Back Again), in which the artist ponders the grand themes of fame, love, beauty, class, and money. November 12, 2018 – March 31, 2019

Ethel Scull 36 Times, 1963 Andy Warhol Part of the upcoming exhibit at the Whitney Museum in New York

2. Bruce Nauman: Disappearing Acts at The Museum of Modern Art and MoMA PS1 is the first comprehensive retrospective of the conceptual artist’s work in over 20 years. It includes work from the start of his career in the 1960’s through to the present day. The exhibit is broad, spanning sound, video, photography, wax, drawing, printmaking, sculpture, performance and neon. October 21, 2018 – February 25, 2019 

Bruce Nauman, Untitled (1967) from Disappearing Acts at the MoMA in New York City

3. The Progressive Revolution: Modern Art for a New India at the Asia Society on the upper East Side in New York is part of the organization’s “Season of India” program. This exhibition centers on work by the Progressive Artists’ Group, formed in Bombay following India’s independence in 1947 and including people from all walks of life: rich, poor, Muslim, Brahman, and Roman Catholic. Featuring oil paintings depicting moments of political and social upheaval, the show is one of the largest-ever presentations of modern Indian painting in the U.S. September 14, 2018 – January 20, 2019

Progressive Revolution Modern Art for a New India at the Asia Society in New York

4. Bruegel at the Kunsthistoriches Museum in Vienna is being described as a “once in a lifetime” experience. Pieter Bruegel the Elder, an icon of 16th-century arts in the Netherlands, is known for his portrayals of peasant life. Only 40 paintings, 60 drawings, and 70 prints of his remain, and over half of them are gathered here for the first major show ever devoted to the artist. 2019 marks the 450th anniversary of his death, and this exhibit is based on unprecedented loans from European and American collections, including the Prado in Madrid and the Frick in New York.  October 2 – January 13, 2019

Bruegel at the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna

5. At the Wallach Art Gallery at the Lenfest Center of the Arts at Columbia University in New York City, in partnership with the Musée d’Orsay in Paris, Posing Modernity: The Black Model from Manet and Matisse to Today explores the changing modes of representation of the black figure in modern art from Laure – the model who posed as the maid for Manet’s Olympia in the 1860s – to the portraits that galvanized Faith Ringgold. October 24, 2018 – February 10, 2019

Young Woman with Peonies by Frederic Bazille; part of Posing Modernity at the Wallach Art Gallery at Columbia University in New York City

6. Catastrophe and the Power of Art at the Mori Art Museum in Tokyo addresses the profound question: What art can do in chaotic times where the future is uncertain? The exhibit will examine how artists respond to the major catastrophes that strike communities, as well as personal tragedies, and the role that art can play in our recovery. Amid today’s mounting crises around the globe, this is an opportunity to explore the transformative power of art. October 6, 2018 – January 20, 2019

Yoko Ono Add Color Painting (Refugee Boat) 2016 at the Mori Art Museum

7. For Opacity: Elijah Burgher, Toyin Ojih Odutola, and Nathaniel Mary Quinn at The Drawing Center in SoHo in New York City is the first exhibit under the leadership of Laura Hoptman, the museum’s new director (she was previously at the MoMA). The focus is on three young artists who explore diverse identities through portraiture, and who do so almost exclusively through the medium of drawing. It will be the first museum exhibition for Burgher and Quinn, and follows on the heels of Ojih Odutola’s successful 2017 New York debut at the Whitney Museum of American Art.  October 12, 2018 – February 3, 2019

Nathaniel Mary Quinn’s Class of 92; part of For Opacity at The Drawing Center in New York City

8. In conjunction with the National Gallery of Art and the Peabody Essex Museum, the Getty Center in Los Angeles is staging the first major international exhibit of American photographer Sally Mann’s work. Many of the photographs in “Sally Mann: A Thousand Crossings,” which tackle themes of family, mortality, memory and identity in the American South, will be on display for the first time. November 16, 2018 – February 10, 2019

Virginia at 9, Sally Mann (1994) part of Sally Mann A Thousand Crossings at the Getty Center in Los Angeles

9. West by Midwest at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago illuminates the ways in which contemporary art practices spread and develop by tracing the intersecting lives of artists who have migrated from the American Midwest to the West Coast since the mid-20th century. The exhibit includes more than 80 artworks in a wide variety of media, made by over 60 artists from the 1960’s through the 2010’s. Each section examines three overlapping forms of kinship between artists: practice, place, and people. November 17, 2018 – January 27, 2019 

Catherine Opie Fall, Winter, Spring, Summer (Lake Michigan), 2004 at West by Midwest at the MCA Chicago

10. Five Bhobh – Painting At the End of an Era at the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa in Cape Town, South Africa is an exhibition of contemporary painting from Zimbabwe, featuring twenty-nine artists from that country. Five Bhobh (pronounced “five bob”) is the average fare needed to journey locally by minibus in Zimbabwe. Metaphorically, this exhibition is like a bus journey – once the fare has been paid, the real conversation starts and the deepest emotions come to the fore. In some works, the painting is stripped to its most basic form, exposing threadbare canvas – in others, paint is mixed into substances such as silicone, synthetic hair, and wood as a way of subtly articulating complex issues, and speaking in intricate, allegorical codes. September 12, 2018 – March 31, 2019 

Kudzanai Violet Hwami Family Portrait at the Zeitz MOCAA

11. Syria Matters at the Museum of Islamic Art in the Qatari capital of Doha takes as its subject the extraordinary cultural heritage of Syria, illuminating the country’s key role in the artistic and intellectual history of the world. A journey through time and space, the exhibit features immersive and innovative digital renderings of key sites by the French company ICONEM and includes over 120 objects, including the so-called Cavour Vase, which is the most spectacular example of a very small group of richly decorated cobalt blue and purple enameled and gilded glass vessels made in Syria or Egypt in the late 13th century. November 23, 2018 – November 23, 2019  

Syria Matters at the Museum of Islamic Art in Qatar

12. Charles White: A Retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art in New York showcases over 100 works spanning White’s entire career, from the 1930’s through his death in 1979. There are drawings, paintings, prints, photographs, illustrated books, record covers, and archival materials that convey a strong sense of the artist as thinker, teacher, draftsman, and activist. Over the course of his career, White’s commitment to creating powerful images of African Americans—what his gallerist and, later, White himself described as “images of dignity”—was unwavering. The great Kerry James Marshall was one of his students. October 7, 2018 – January 13, 2019 

Detail from Charles White, “Our Land,” 1951 part of the upcoming retrospective at the MoMA in New York

13. Lorenzo Lotto: Portraits at the National Gallery in London showcases the Italian Renaissance painter Lorenzo Lotto and his genius for painting people, with compositions rich in symbolism and imbued with great psychological depth. The prominent addition of objects hinting at the social status, interests, and aspirations of his subjects add meaning to each work. His portraits are renowned for their frankness and intimacy, and one reviewer notes: “Seeing his subjects is just like meeting Shakespeare’s characters up close.” November 5, 2018 – February 10, 2019

Lorenzo Lotto’s Andrea Odoni (1488-1545) National Portrait Gallery London

14. Hilma af Klint: Paintings for the Future at the Guggenheim Museum in New York is the first major solo retrospective of the work of the early 20th-century Swedish abstract painter, and makes the case that she was actually the first modernist artist to paint entirely abstract works. The exhibit will include 160 works from the long under-recognized innovator of abstract art. Born in Stockholm in 1862, she was a predecessor of Kandinsky, Mondrian, and O’Keeffe, who are generally cited as the first abstract painters. Klint’s visionary works were well ahead of their time — she was criticized so sharply by Rudolph Steiner that she stopped painting for four years. Nevertheless, she persisted, resuming work and continuing to paint until her death in 1944, at the age of 81. October 12, 2018 – Feb 3, 2019

Hilma af Klint Paintings for the Future at the Guggenheim New York

15. Glenstone, located about 15 miles outside of Washington, DC, will unveil a major expansion on October 4th that integrates landscape architecture and monumental sculptures into the museum’s collection of modern and contemporary works on paper. The private institution – co-founded by Mitchell Rales and Emily Wei Rales – is focused on art, architecture and landscape arts, and has been designed to foster “unhurried contemplative engagement” with the works on display. That sounds wonderful. If you decide to go, make an advanced reservation – part of the reason it’s so serene is because the number of visitors is limited each day.

Glenstone, located outside Washington, DC

Happy travels. We’ll see you in the galleries.

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