Traveling for the love of art is something I highly recommend. Nothing fills me with more giddy anticipation than researching art exhibitions and gallery openings in places I have travel plans, or even better, planning an entire trip around the art shows I want to see. This fall and winter is especially rich and provides some fantastic chances to see and experience visual art and culture near and far. Listed below are ten modern and contemporary exhibitions I believe are worth planning some travel around. It was a tough job condensing my choices to ten this season, as there are many many more worth checking out. But for those of you wanting to research further and set up both real and fantasy travel itineraries, I recommend both a subscription to ArtForum and their artguide app for quick access to hundreds of art cities around the world and the dates and places where one can see fantastic art shows.
Museum of Modern Art, New York: Currently- January 28, 2018
This fall and winter, it is all about New York for me. This is certainly not unusual as NYC is the centre of the art world, but I have seldom found so many shows that I am excited to see all at once in one art season. MoMA has especially been hitting it out of the park for me as of late, and the first show I am planning to visit when I land in New York over the Christmas holidays is the fashion exhibition that poses the provocative question: Is Fashion Modern? I have been watching some of the great videos and talks that have been generated by the show already. At the heart of the exhibition are 111 garments and accessories that have had a strong impact on recent history and society, and which still hold value today. What I think this exhibition will also finally do is what I have hoped the Met Costume Institute shows of the past would do more of -- properly contextualize fashion's relationship to both art and modernism.
MoMA PS1, New York: October 22- March 11, 2018
Anyone studying contemporary art history with me will be introduced to a very in-depth study of Carolee Schneemann. She is an artist that I not only include in my lectures to help bridge discourses of painting and performance art in the 1960's, but Schneemann is also one of those difficult to categorize artists who has continued to provoke both the art world to the present day with her wide varying projects that examine ideas around the female body, gender, sexuality, and the politics of seeing. I couldn't believe this was listed as the first comprehensive retrospective of Schneemann's art practice, so I am delighted that New York's MoMA PS1 will play host to what will surely be one of the more memorable retrospectives of this season.
Museum of Modern Art, New York: October 31- April 1, 2018
Back again at MoMA, I am probably most anticipating this interdisciplinary exhibition spanning art, film, performance, theatre, photography, zines, and fashion looking at the creative center of New York's East Village in the late 1970s to 1980s. Having most recently seen several VIFF films that focus on this particular era of New York, but also teaching a new course on urban visual art and culture that locates so many pivotal historical moments in the development of street art, music, fashion, and alternative culture to the East Village, I am not only looking forward to seeing this show, but also to finding new connections to enhance my lectures and help students understand the vital legacy of this place and time.
Guggenheim Museum, New York: October 6- January 7, 2018
Among the most buzzed about shows this year is the Art and China after 1989 exhibition at the Guggenheim. As the largest exhibition of art by contemporary Chinese-born artists ever mounted in North America, the event has already been met with controversy and much discussion around the 1989 date that was chosen in direct reference to the Tiananmen Square protests that occurred in the same year as the fall of the Berlin Wall in Europe. As I will be embarking on my first trip to Asia next spring (to China, Korea, and Japan over several weeks), I am looking forward to learning more about the diversity of contemporary Chinese artists and the themes/histories that drive their practice. Of course I do not expect that much of what I will see in NYC will be represented on the ground (especially in China) in quite the same way, so this show will serve as an important foundation in my understanding about recent Asian art.
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York: November 10- February 4, 2018
Yes, we are still in New York, and this final selection is of special note as it features the first retrospective of a more recent generation of artist coming out of the Los Angeles art scene of the 1990s. A painter, Laura Owens has been a very important and influential artist in her attempts to invigorate and challenge assumptions about what painting can be. It will be amazing to see so many of Owens' diverse works all in one space, and I anticipate that the catalogue and discussion generated by this exhibition around her contribution to the state of contemporary painting will be vital in coming years to the art historical conversations on this topic as well.
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco: November 18- March 25, 2018
Earlier this year, I was able to catch the very last day of this important Rauschenberg exhibition at the Tate Modern in London. I did not have much time and had to work my way through the show far more quickly than I liked. What struck me most was the focused nature of the exhibition-- honing in on the experimental nature of materials and collaborations the artist undertook with others-- and how well the show had been curated. How wonderful that the chance to see this exhibition is now again a reality with its opening at the newly renovated San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. For anyone reading this on the west coast of North America, I can promise that a quick weekend trip to San Francisco would be worth it alone just to take in this show. And yes, you can gaze upon the infamous Erased de Kooning Drawing as an added bonus!
Tate Modern, London: October 18- January 28, 2018
From North America to Europe, I was intrigued to see that there are still so many shows looking at Russian, Soviet, and more recent contemporary Russian artists. It must be both a sign of the times we live in, and also the interest and curiosity that many living in the West have about the power and influence of this large and imposing culture. This exhibition featuring the installation projects of Ilya and Emilia Kabakov is especially compelling as it focuses on the immersive projects of artists and individuals who have lived through and in between many different historical, political, and social moments and contexts related to Russian and Soviet history. Also set to coincide with the centenary of the 1917 Russian Revolution, the show promises to continue bringing awareness to how art functions within and in the aftermath of political transformation.
Centre Pompidou, Paris: October 18- December 18, 2017
It is said by many critics, artists, and art historians today that the art world is in crisis, and at the heart of this crisis is often the problem of the present state of art exhibition itself. In Paris, a new kind of event format will be unveiled this fall called the Cosmopolis-- described by the Centre Pompidou as a "new platform for the exploration of artistic practices based on the gaining and sharing of knowledge and nourished by their engagement with the social, urban and political issues of today." The first edition of this platform is titled Collective Intelligence and will take up the subject of cosmopolitanism and the role of art collectives, particularly in Africa, Latin America, and Asia, as its focus. The platform promises to break the mold of traditional exhibition strategies, and I along with many others in the art world will be curious to see how it succeeds (or fails).
Moderna Museet, Stockholm: October 21- January 21, 2018
Along a similar line to the Cosmopolis show in Paris, this exhibition in Stockholm in one of Europe's most esteemed modern and contemporary art museums captured my attention with its stated themes of "alternative facts, relative truths and fragmented narratives." More importantly, the exhibition appears to be confronting head on the issue of connecting art and politics through the legacy of one of Sweden's most influential artists, Oyvind Fahlstrom, a figure that called upon fellow mid to late twentieth century artists to manipulate the world through play and participation. Twenty-eight Swedish and international artists will be exhibited over two floors of the museum for what promises to be an expansive and provocative show.
Vancouver Art Gallery, Vancouver: September 30- January 1, 2018
And finally, ending right in my own backyard is one of the more important exhibitions in recent years to seriously examine the history and current state of contemporary painting in Canada. For most people familiar with Vancouver's art scene, the medium of painting is often overshadowed by the city's ties to the history of photography and especially the photoconceptualism movement represented in the work of Vancouver's best known international art stars. As a show claiming to showcase painting's "revivial," I am curious to see how it will fall into line with some of the discourse I anticipate will frame the Laura Owens show in New York. All in all, a very important show for this city.