9 Must-See Exhibitions This Week, From Chicago to Brussels and Beyond

Inflatable Cycladic artifacts from Objects of Common Interest, MoMA’s landmark Donald Judd retrospective, a treasure trove of experimental lighting fixtures, and more.

Standing Stones 

When: Feb. 21–Sept. 27

Where: ADAM Brussels Design Museum

What: The Greek designers Eleni Petaloti and Leonidas Trampoukis, who founded LOT Architecture and the design studio Objects of Common Interest, are experts on ancient geometry and materials. Lately, the duo, who split their time between New York and Athens, have been particularly inspired by the Bronze Age Cycladic culture, which flourished on those Greek islands around the third millennium BCE, and the modernist sculptor Constantin Brancusi. Building on these disparate influences, they present a series of translucent inflatable sculptures modeled after Cycladic artifacts. Mounted atop mirrored surfaces, the works have an illusory totem-like effect that adds another dimension to our understanding of ancient objects. —Ryan Waddoups


Dimensions of Reality: Female Minimal

When: Feb. 23–June 20

Where: Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, Paris

What: Countering the very white, very male standard canon of  Minimal art, this exhibition brings together 14 women who were making radical and experimental work during the 20th century across Europe, Asia, and Latin America—often in the shadow of their male peers. The British artist Marlow Moss (1889–1958) used mathematical theories to make rigorously geometric abstractions that were key to Piet Mondrian’s development of his mature style  And the seminal Bauhaus photographer Lucia Moholy (1894–1989) made pioneering work but struggled to secure rights to it after Walter Gropius took her negatives to the United States in the 1930s as part of the Bauhaus archive. There’s a political edge to much of this material. The Colombian-born Feliza Burstyn (1933–82), who relocated to Paris in the 1950s, used Kinetic Art to speak out against oppressive social and political conditions in her home country. The show makes a case that many historians—and, to be sure, market players—have been only too happy to ignore: women have been central to modern art’s vanguard movements. —R.W.


Donald Judd, "Untitled," 1973. Courtesy Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, Panza Collection, 1991 / © 2020 Judd Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.


When: March 1–July 11

Where: The Museum of Modern Art, New York

What: Mustering both the greatest hits and choice deep cuts, curators Ann Temkin and Yasmil Raymond have created an indelible portrait of Donald Judd, the unrelenting, irascible godhead of Minimalism, a term that he famously disdained. Arraying his ultra-precise works across MoMA’s entire sixth floor with elegance and real courage (these are not quiet sculptures), the show has the effect of a plunge into a frigid lake after a long sauna session: it’s bracing, overwhelming, and refreshing. (How long you can remain in the water is another matter.) Judd’s language has been thoroughly digested by the broader culture, but seeing so much of his art together underscores its audacity, its alienness, and its allure. It’s a huge exhibition, but it’s so lively that I suspect many will leave hankering for more Judd. Thankfully, additional work awaits at shows that run during parts of the MoMA show at Gagosian, David Zwirner, and the Judd Foundation. Make it a Judd weekend, and while en route to those shows, read the artist’s forceful writing, which has the same biting clarity as his art. One of the all-time great art putdowns (or at least one of my favorite) comes when the maestro turns his attention to an Anselm Kiefer work, deciding it is “one of the worst paintings I’ve ever seen in all respects.” —Andrew Russeth


It’s Lit

When: March 3–April 25

Where: R & Company, New York

What: It seems that the coolest designers always experiment with lighting. (Who doesn’t swoon over Entler Studio’s wiggly ceramic lamps, or Michael Anastassiades’s illuminated drawings in space?) This exhibition reinforces that notion, with fixtures by of-the-moment minds like Katie Stout, Pierre Yovanovitch, and the Haas Brothers. Among the table lamps, chandeliers, and sconces, several of which have never been shown publicly, is an installation of glass artist Jeff Zimmerman’s Milk Drop pendants: giant snow-white tears, punctuated with a birdhouse-like hole on one side. Combined with Rogan Gregory’s extraterrestrial-inspired floor lamps and Sebastian ErraZuriz’s taxidermy chickens with light bulbs for heads, the fixtures on view uncover a multitude of bright ideas. —Tiffany Jow


Gerhard Richter, Cage 4, 2006. Tate: Lent from a private collection 2007. © Gerhard Richter 2019.

Gerhard Richter: Painting After All

When: March 4–July 5

Where: The Met Breuer, New York

What: Gerhard Richter, the reigning king of postwar European painting, returns to New York for his first major U.S. retrospective since the Museum of Modern Art feted him in 2002. He’s 88 now, still hard at work: His longtime dealer Marian Goodman Gallery is concurrently hosting a show of new abstract paintings, the scintillating body of work that made him a market superstar (much to his consternation) over the past decade. The Met exhibition offers a chance to take in the full measure of his work, from his classic, ominous blurred figurative pieces of the 1960s, through his later luminous, intimate portraits of family members, right up to the present. There are fruitful forays off into sculpture, overpainted photographs, and drawing, too. The show also offers a fleeting opportunity to taste the full glories of the Met Breuer; this is the last major show that will be mounted there. Watch the superb 2011 documentary Gerhard Richter Painting (a self-explanatory title) to get excited for the festivities. —A.R.


Cao Fei, "Asia One," 2018. Video, 63’20”. Courtesy the artist, Vitamin Creative Space, and Sprüth Magers.

Cao Fei: Blueprints

When: March 4–May 17

Where: Serpentine Galleries, London

What: Chinese multimedia artist Cao Fei grapples with reality by exploring the digital world. Her subversive work tackles fraught topics—VR, avatar-filled online communities, robots—that may fill tech-adverse people with a mix of eye-rolling irritation and dread. For her first large-scale solo exhibition in the U.K., she debuts The Eternal Wave, a site-specific VR installation that considers the evolution of Beijng’s’s Jiuxianqiao district, where she lives and works. It sits alongside Asia One (2018), a film about automation, the human body, and labor; La Town (2014), a stop-motion movie set in a post-apocalyptic cityscape; and other pieces that blur the virtual and physical realms. —T.J.


Shigoto-gi (Work Clothes). Courtesy of Amuse Museum, Chuzaburo Tanaka Collection.

Boro Textiles: Sustainable Aesthetics

When: March 6–June 14

Where: Japan Society Gallery, New York

What: In the 19th and 20th centuries, Japanese peasants pieced together patchwork textiles (boro) because northern climates made it difficult to cultivate cotton. Stitching remnants of used fabric onto utilitarian items like blankets, coats, and mittens also became commonplace. These garments, sometimes reworked over generations, express essential principles of Japanese ethics and aesthetics, such as an appreciation for distinguished imperfections (wabi-sabi) and the minimization of waste. This exhibition showcases such traditional practices by presenting 50 archival pieces from the collection of folklorist and cultural anthropologist Chuzaboro Tanaka (1933–2016), as well as boro-inspired garments by Japanese avant-garde fashion pioneers Rei Kawakubo, Issey Miyake, and Yohji Yamamoto. They demonstrate how the craft of mending has persisted over time while being adopted by new generations of designers. —R.W.


El Greco, "Christ Driving the Money Changers from the Temple," about 1570. Courtesy the Minneapolis Institute of Art.

El Greco: Ambition and Defiance

When: March 7–June 21

Where: The Art Institute of Chicago

What: More than 400 years after El Greco cut his way across the Mediterranean world, from Crete to Italy to Spain, his wild paintings—stormy landscapes, rollicking biblical scenes, limpid paintings in which bodies and perspective seem to be always in flux—continue to stun. Seeing even a small tranche of his work is a rare pleasure; here’s a chance to view (count them!) 57. After a run at the Grand Palais in Paris, the show is making its only other stand in Chicago. —A.R.


Joana Vasconcelos, Solitaire (Solitário), 2018. Courtesy of YSP and Unidade Infinita Projectos.

Joana Vasconcelos: Beyond

When: March 7–Jan. 3, 2021

Where: Yorkshire Sculpture Park, United Kingdom

What: Portuguese artist Joana Vasconcelos has been active since the 1990s, but quickly rose to prominence at the 2005 Venice Biennale, where The Bride (2001–5)—a giant 18th-century–style candelabra made from thousands of unused tampons—hung from a gallery ceiling. (Thirteen years later, she became the youngest person, and the first woman, to have a solo exhibition at the Guggenheim Bilbao.) Vasconcelos deftly utilizes domestic objects to make monumental sculptures that comment on feminism and cultural identity. Here, viewers can glimpse the harlequin Valkyrie Marina Rinaldi (2014), a nearly 40-foot-long fabric squiggle that hangs from the ceiling, its bulging tentacles falling to the floor. Elsewhere, there’s a towering diamond ring made from gold-toned automotive rims and crystal whisky glasses, a pair of stilettos comprised of stainless-steel saucepans, and a puffy wall-hung blob, crocheted in multicolor concentric circles, called Big Booby #4 (2018). —T.J.

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