What: After its burst of market popularity in the 1970s and ‘80s, it’s been fairly difficult to find a critical mass of Pattern and Decoration work in major art galleries—to say nothing of museums. This feast of a show may change that, assembling works by dozens of artists from a loose movement that looked to textiles, craft, the decorative arts, and other relatively untrammeled aesthetic ground across a variety of cultures for inspiration. It’s art that takes seriously the notion of ornamentation—visual pleasure—as a noble calling, while also raising piquant political questions about the marginalization of art forms long associated with women and artisans. Bring a notebook, scrawl down a few names, and start traveling down some exciting rabbit holes. —Andrew Russeth
Where: Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia
What: How wonderfully goofy can one painting be? How sly, witty, and good-natured? How little can you do and still end up with an artwork that is coherent and vital and new? What do you think of this cute cartoon figure on a huge white canvas? Is it possible to paint an Impressionist landscape today? Are scrappy, charming video works—canny self-portraits, in a sense—even more charming when framed by scrappy canvas frames? Would you like to see a painting of the actress Molly Ringwald? Are you familiar with the work of the superb and widely influential New York–based artist Trevor Shimizu? Would you like to visit the ICA Philadelphia and see a small yet handsome show of his output that makes a case for a sprawling survey one day? —A.R.
What: In a 1956 lecture, Lygia Clark referred to painting as an “experimental field.” Perhaps no era in the Brazilian artist’s career embodies this notion more than its first decade, surveyed here, during which her focus evolved from traditional portraiture and still lifes to black-and-white compositions of positive and negative planes that “open up to the viewer,” in her words. An integral part of Rio de Janeiro’s artistic vanguards, as a member of the Grupo Ruptura and Grupo Frente, she helped chart hard-edged alternatives to traditional Brazilian naturalistic painting. “What I seek is to compose a space and not compose in it,” she once wrote. —Ryan Waddoups
What: Tom Wudl’s art—tiny works on paper depicting painstakingly intricate, alluring forms—is informed by his decades-long study and practice of Buddhist meditation. And his process itself requires mindful attentiveness: wearing a head-mounted magnifying glass that hangs over his spectacles, he carries out such repetitive tasks as drawing scores of itsy-bitsy pips (the shape of the club suit in a set of playing cards) or composing spider web–like grids using a ruler and sliver-sized lines. Wudl, who was born in Bolivia and has lived in Los Angeles since 1958, embellishes his creations with oil paint and gold or silver leaf, which gives them their luster. Close up, his work brings to mind that of Agnes Martin and Sol LeWitt; from afar, they suggest a harlequin fragment in one of Miriam Schapiro’s mixed-media femmages. —Tiffany Jow
What: This exhibition offers something for die-hard fans and casual admirers alike, with Warhol’s greatest hits appearing alongside many lesser-known works. Look out for the Pop pioneer’s series of paintings depicting drag queens and trans women, a 1980 portrait of Debbie Harry, and Sixty Last Suppers, a 32-foot-long canvas completed in 1986, one year before the artist’s death. Some of Warhol’s wigs, arguably sculptures in their own right, will also be on view. —T.J.
What: Jeremy Anderson first launched the lighting and furniture studio Apparatus with Gabriel Hendifar, his partner in work and life, in 2012. In the eight years since, the two have become inimitable leaders in New York’s design community. Now, Anderson takes a step back to pursue another passion: ceramic art. He debuts a series of sculptural vessels, called “piccolos,” which resemble anthropomorphic sky-gazing creatures that he assembles from wheel-thrown elements. Anderson describes their circular openings as the point of origin for each piece’s personality, which he deepens through a meditative, hours-long process of painting reverberating lines. As a group, the piccolos feel playful yet poignant, musing on the endless diversity of human characteristics. —R.W.
What: Sixty this year, the MacArthur “Genius” grant-winning photographer An-My Lê is finally getting a United States retrospective, which will bring together more than 100 of her works. Her subjects are the grand, old genres—wars, history, and landscapes (usually fraught ones)—but she shoots with such a preternatural sense for quiet, offhand moments that they never appear foreboding. In her images, a bevy of huge tanks cruise gently through a glorious open plain, or soldiers rest under intricate camouflage netting, invisible at first glance. Sometimes she goes behind the scenes of movies being made on such topics, examining the packaging of conflicts. Leonard Cohen sang about being “guided by the beauty of our weapons”; Lê sees that terrible beauty, too, but she looks upon it with incisive skepticism—a witness well-suited to these times. —A.R.
What: Jonas Mekas mentored Andy Warhol, partied with Salvador Dalí, and taught John and Jackie Kennedy’s children how to make movies. Often referred to as the godfather of avant-garde film, Mekas, who died last year at age 96, left behind a rich legacy through his work as a filmmaker, writer, and curator. Since then, there have been many celebrations of his achievements—which include helping establish the Anthology Film Archives in New York and representing his native Lithuania at the 2005 Venice Biennale—but this is the first solo presentation since his death that focuses on his artistic career. It’s also a personal project for the gallery’s owner, Deborah Colton, who was Mekas’s friend. The show will spotlight work that Mekas and Colton selected together, including videos, poems, books, and photographs of him and his family. —T.J.