Among the big-name artists to be celebrated in the US next year are Jasper Johns at the National Gallery, Richard Prince at the Guggenheim, Jeff Wall and Richard Serra at the Museum of Modern Art, John Latham at P.S.I., Frank Stella and Paul Poiret at the Metropolitan Museum and George Stubbs at the Frick.
At New York’s Morgan Library everyone’s favourite, Van Gogh, enjoys a more intimate focus through the letters he wrote between 1888 and 1890 to his young friend and protégé, the painter Emile Bernard. By luck all 21 letters – they are covered with drawings – stayed together (bar one, on loan, that escaped to Paris).
Bernard was among the first to realise Van Gogh’s genius, organising the first exhibition after his death and publishing this correspondence as early as 1893. This is the first time the letters appear in their original form, complete with juicy comments on brothels and such like. The letters are a mine of technical and painterly details, sketches and full-scale drawings of the oils Van Gogh was working on in Arles. The show includes international loans of related pictures.
The huge commercial interest in photography collecting is beginning to drive museum curatorial programmes – good for progressive central European camera artists who previously languished in obscurity. “Foto: Modernity in Central Europe 1918-45“ celebrates the phenomenal flowering of photography across interwar Germany, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Austria and Poland – among tens of thousands of amateurs as well as professionals and avant-garde masters such as El Lissitzky, Moholy-Nagy and Hannah Hoch. It became a symbol of modernity through its use in the press, advertisements and books.
The exhibition, unprecedented in its reach, highlights the range of energetic international connections, with Germany and Prague leading the way in collage and manipulated photography. “Foto” opens at Washington’s National Gallery in June, going on to New York’s Guggenheim in October, to Milwaukee in February 2008 and to Edinburgh’s Scottish National Gallery for the Edinburgh Festival.
While central European artists can come as a surprise to Americans, since moving to the US I have discovered a world of Latin American artists I scarcely knew about. MoMA is going global next year with the first US retrospective of the Venezuelan Armand Reverón (1889-1954). John Elderfield, ever determined that MoMA should “be doing things broader than would be expected”, is curating it.
Reverón began the 1920s with monochromatic coastal landscapes, taking a radical shift into figural compositions based on life-size dolls made by himself and his partner Juanita Rios. He was regarded as Venezuela’s leading modernist, and after his death his creations were cared for by the state and so escaped destruction in 1999 when a mudslide swept his studio into the sea.
If you hate as much as I do exhibitions that specify “women artists”, “Global Feminisms” at the Brooklyn Museum will kill or cure. This huge international survey of contemporary art by 100 women from 50 countries, most of them under 40, opens in March to inaugurate the museum’s new Sackler Center for Feminist Art, now permanent home to Judy Chicago’s infamous “Dinner Party”.
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