Fall Art Preview

When Jack Whitten died, in January, at the age of seventy-eight, he was a renowned, category-defying abstract painter. But the sculptures he made in his studios in New York and Crete were more or less secret. Fashioned by the Alabama-born artist from wood, marble, fishing line, nails, glass, and other materials, the totemic works will be seen at the Met Breuer in the company of his paintings and a selection of relics from Africa, ancient Greece, and the American South which informed his aesthetic. “Odyssey: Jack Whitten Sculpture, 1963–2017” opens Sept. 6. At the Brooklyn Museum, Whitten’s 1970 painting “Homage to Malcolm” is among the hundred and fifty works by sixty artists in “Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power,” arriving Sept. 14.

People cavil about the influence of the art market today, but patrons have been holding sway for hundreds of years. The Frick exhibits two fifteenth-century Netherlandish altar panels commissioned by—and portraying, alongside the Virgin, her child, and saints—the Carthusian monk Jan Vos. “The Charterhouse of Bruges: Jan van Eyck, Petrus Christus, and Jan Vos” opens Sept. 18.

“Sarah Lucas: Au Naturel,” the first U.S. retrospective of the British artist, takes its title from a sculpture she made in 1994: two oranges and a cucumber placed on a mattress next to a pair of melons and a water bucket for a slapstick-Surrealist take on a male and a female nude. Lucas, who has been tweaking figurative conventions since the late nineteen-eighties, is less well known than her former classmate and fellow-provocateur Tracey Emin; that may change when the New Museum fills three floors with Lucas’s work, beginning Sept. 26.

By 1906, well before Kandinsky wrote about the influence of color on the soul, or Malevich sought refuge from realism in the form of a square, the Swedish painter Hilma af Klint had invented an abstract visual language that reflected her intense involvement with mysticism (she also worked as a spiritualist medium). The Guggenheim revises the origin story of European abstraction with “Hilma af Klint: Paintings for the Future,” opening Oct. 12.

Bruce Nauman is arguably the most important living American artist and certainly among the most influential. Since the mid-nineteen-sixties, working in sculpture, performance, video, drawing, neon, photography, and room-size installations, he has explored the discomforts of the human condition with sharp wit and formal dexterity. The sixth floor of MOMA and the entirety of MOMA PS1 are dedicated to “Bruce Nauman: Disappearing Acts,” which opens Oct. 21.

Andy Warhol, who would have turned ninety this year, is so legendary that even his handwriting is famous—it inspired an award-winning font. What more is there to learn about this deeply superficial artist? The Whitney’s brilliant curator Donna De Salvo answers the question with the largest Warhol survey ever, featuring more than three hundred and fifty works. “Andy Warhol: From A to B and Back Again” opens Nov. 12. 

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