Art Shows like shows themed around the Seven Deadly Sins

Shows and Events is under construction. For the meanwhile, here are our top picks of shows world wide.

An optimistic biennial with Futurist ambitions

Vienna Complaints Choir, a group intervention by Oliver Hangl staged as part of the biennial’s Performing Public Art Festival. © Helmut Prochart

Not content with simply taking the temperature of contemporary art, biennials are imagining the future. All the World’s Futures, the polemical central exhibition at this year’s Venice Biennale—the oldest biennial of them all—was conceived by Okwui Enwezor as an explicitly political reflection on global disorder. The Vienna Biennale, which launches this month, has a more positive outlook and a more modest title: Ideas for Change.

Initiated by Christoph Thun-Hohenstein, the director of Vienna’s Museum für Angewandte Kunst (Museum of Applied Arts), or MAK, the biennial responds to two urgent challenges: the increasing influence of “digital modernity” on human society and the explosion of urban populations. If a museum “can’t change the world directly”, it can inspire the creativity necessary “to point us towards sustainable lifestyles for the future,” Thun-Hohenstein says.

Deep roots

This creativity is broad in scope. The biennial aims to bring together art forms that are split in Venice, which has had a separate architecture biennial since 1980. Interdisciplinary ideas are “in our DNA here at MAK”, Thun-Hohenstein says. The belief in the equal status of “high” fine art and “low” applied arts has deep roots in the Vienna Secession of the 20th century, he says.

In collaboration with other Viennese institutions and four external curators, MAK is organising more than half of the biennial’s shows. Mapping Bucharest: Art, Memory and Revolution 1916-2016 will survey a century of Romanian art, from Constantin Brancusi to Adrian Ghenie. Future Light, which examines the legacy of the Enlightenment, will present work by contemporary artists including Amalia Pica and Walid Raad.

The design shows have the grandest futurist ambitions. Uneven Growth: Tactical Urbanisms for Expanding Megacities travels from the Museum of Modern Art, New York, to a city that has, for six years running, been named as the most “liveable” in the world by the consultancy firm Mercer. The show presents architects’ visions for six metropolises: Istanbul, Mumbai, Hong Kong, Lagos, Rio de Janeiro and New York. In parallel, 2051: Smart Life in the City displays alternative models for ten quintessentially urban environments that are connected to real sites across Vienna.

The museum’s overarching “manifesto” exhibition for Ideas for Change will be The Art of Working: Agency in Digital Modernity, overseen by Thun-Hohenstein and the “Vienna Biennale Circle”, a forum of local curators and theorists. Meanwhile, the University of Applied Arts and the Architekturzentrum Wien (Vienna Architecture Centre) will respectively host the Performing Public Art Festival and an architectural competition for Aspern, a lakeside development on the city’s fringe. Unlike some of the more utopian ideas at the biennial, the winning proposal will have municipal support to become reality.

Vienna Biennale, Museum für Angewandte Kunst and other locations, 11 June-4 October

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Agnes Martin: Minimalist in style, Expressionist in substance

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Agnes Martin, Portrait (1979). Photo: Charles R. Rushton, courtesy of the photographer and Pace Gallery, New York

The US painter Agnes Martin, who died in 2004, is often called a Minimalist. Her best-known works, which she made in a signature grid style, often with delicate, pale washes, can be easily linked with the work of such artists as Donald Judd. But Martin insisted that her paintings were very different in spirit. She shied away from intellectualism in favour of the personal and spiritual. “Without awareness of beauty, innocence and happiness, and without happiness oneself, one cannot make works of art,” she once wrote.

Her retrospective at Tate Modern—the first such show since her death—is divided into two distinct periods. It will trace Martin’s career from its earliest stages in the 1950s and follow through to the art she made from 1973 onwards, after she left New York. Her initial work, including pieces like The Garden (1958), reveal her experiments with found objects and geometric shapes.

But in 1967, just when her paintings were attracting considerable attention, Martin stopped working and abandoned the New York art world. She spent nearly two years travelling across North America before making a home in Santa Fe, New Mexico. In 1973, she began to work again and produced On a Clear Day, a set of 30 monochrome screenprints. Later works, such as Untitled #5 (1998) and Happy Holiday (1999), continue in this grid style.

Late work: Agnes Martin, Happy Holiday (1999). Tate/National Galleries of Scotland © Estate of Agnes Martin

Late work: Agnes Martin, Happy Holiday (1999). Tate/National Galleries of Scotland © Estate of Agnes Martin

For the most part, the co-curators Frances Morris and Tiffany Bell have laid out the exhibition chronologically, but themes cut through the show. One room, for instance, will include a mini-retrospective of drawings, and another will display experimental work from the 1950s and 1960s, when Martin used a mixture of patterns and found materials. The show has been two and a half years in the making. “This is a once-in-a-lifetime exhibition given the number of extraordinary loans that have never been seen in public before, [and given] the vulnerability of her works,” Morris says.

The show is supported by the Henry Luce Foundation and Terra Foundation for American Art, among other sponsors. After it closes at Tate Modern, it is due to travel to the Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, K20, Düsseldorf (7 November-6 March 2016), the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Guggenheim Museum, New York.

• Agnes Martin, Tate Modern, London, 3 June-11 October

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shows themed around the Seven Deadly Sins
Shows and Events is under construction. For the meanwhile, here are our top picks of shows world wide.

Leave your virtues at home and come out for some vice

David Opdyke, Secondary Growth Line Extension (2014). Courtesy of Magnan Metz Gallery and Wave Hill

David Opdyke, Secondary Growth Line Extension (2014). Courtesy of Magnan Metz Gallery and Wave Hill

Seven institutions in Connecticut and New York are gearing up for a splendidly sinful summer with shows themed around the Seven Deadly Sins: envy, gluttony, greed, lust, pride, sloth and wrath. Each member of the Fairfield/Westchester Museum Alliance will take on one sin as part of an initiative designed to raise awareness of the consortium and to encourage those looking to escape New York City this summer to visit all seven of its institutions.

The series opened at the Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Art in April with works that show lust for lust’s sake by artists such as George Condo, whose painting Little Joe (2004) shows a reclining man with an enormous erection and a drink in hand.

The Hudson River Museum will show photographs and installations by the Brooklyn-based artist Adrien Broom that have been inspired by less-than-magnanimous fairy tale characters, like evil stepmothers and plotting princes, all of whom suffer from the same green-eyed malady: envy.

Around 25 works inspired by such natural disasters as volcanic eruptions and hurricanes form an exhibition on nature’s wrath at Wave Hill. The institution’s general interest in the relationship between nature and culture made wrath a natural theme, says Wave Hill’s arts director and senior curator Jennifer McGregor. “We want visitors to consider how we live in risky times, but that through hard work—and art has a place there—we can find resilience,” she says.

Pride and greed will be explored at the Bruce Museum and the Neuberger Museum of Art respectively, with the latter focusing on contemporary artists’ fascination with gold in a show organised by the Bass Museum of Art curator José Carlos Diaz. Self-indulgent gluttony is the focus of an installation of preserved food waste by Emilie Clark at the Katonah Museum of Art.

Naturally, the last show to open is the one that celebrates sloth. The Swedish artist Mats Bigert and Cabinet magazine editor-in-chief Sina Najafi collaborate on a project that actually embodies the sin. Visitors can experience the other shows by watching videos of them from the comfort of Bob-o-pedic recliners in the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum. “We want to encourage sloth-like behaviour in every way possible,” says Richard Klein, the museum’s director of exhibitions. A real-life sloth is expected to be meeting and greeting on the opening day and programming may include snail races. “Our approach is very tongue-in-cheek,” Klein says. “The other sins take some type of effort—sloth doesn’t.”

• The Seven Deadly Sins: Lust, Hudson Valley Center, Peekskill, until 26 July
• Envy: One Sin, Seven Stories, Hudson River Museum, Yonkers, 6 June-26 September
• The Seven Deadly Sins: Wrath, a Force of Nature, Wave Hill, Bronx, 7 June-7 September
• The Seven Deadly Sins: Pride, Bruce Museum, Greenwich, 27 June-18 October
• Emilie Clark (Gluttony), Katonah Museum of Art, 12 July-6 September
• Greed: Gold, Neuberger Museum of Art, Purchase, 12 July-11 October
• The Seven Deadly Sins: Sloth, Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, Ridgefield, 19 July-18 October

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The many seasons of Robert Irwin

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In 1998, Robert Irwin unveiled Prologue: x183, a site-specific installation at the Dia Center for the Arts in New York. The maze of 18 chambers filled with scrims and fluorescent lights occupied an entire floor. Six months later, he returned to tinker with the work. “He tinkered so much it became another piece,” says Kelly Kivland, Dia’s assistant curator. The new version, which had brighter lights and darker scrims, was retitled Excursus: Homage to the Square.

This month, Irwin is due to recreate Excursus for the first time in 15 years at Dia:Beacon, Dia’s outpost in upstate New York. Like most of Irwin’s works, it is better experienced than described. The artist uses light, shadow and space to prompt subtle shifts in perception. The installation is scheduled to be on view for two years to allow visitors to experience it during multiple seasons.

Irwin returned to Dia:Beacon many times over two years to adapt the work to the space, which he knows well (he designed Dia:Beacon’s architectural plan and garden soon after he completed Excursus). “It’s a rare occasion when you can experience an entire artist’s oeuvre within one visit,” Kivland says.

• Excursus: Homage to the Square³, 1 June-May 2017

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