By Richard Lacayo
September 12, 2016

KERRY JAMES MARSHALL

In works invested with a kind of madcap virtuosity, Marshall, 60, brings African-American lives vividly into the discourses of art history. One of the many things that make his paintings so smart is that Marshall knows that our shared history routinely runs through inauspicious places, including beauty parlors and housing projects. Thus his 1993 barbershop extravaganza De Style (above), where the witty deployment of historical references extends to the title, a pun on the Dutch modernist movement De Stijl. On Oct. 25, the Met Breuer in New York City welcomes “Kerry James Marshall: Mastry,” a show that originated at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago.

MEDARDO ROSSO

Impressionist painters gave us a world in meltdown. In the work of Monet, Renoir and Pissarro, solid forms dissolved into tantalizing pools of color. Starting in the 1880s, the young Italian sculptor Medardo Rosso stepped eagerly into that new shape-shifting universe, determined to prove, in works like Jewish Boy (left), that even sculpture, ordinarily the most stable medium, could soften and dematerialize to suggest gentle movement, the suppleness of flesh and the lambent play of light. On Nov. 11 the Pulitzer Arts Foundation in St. Louis opens “Medardo Rosso: Experiments in Light and Form,” the first major Rosso museum show in the U.S. in more than 50 years.

MEXICAN MODERNISM

Modern art in Mexico strayed from the paths mapped by European artists. Painters like Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera and José Clemente Orozco knew all about fractured space and distorted form, but their work had closer ties to peasant life and to realism, however dreamlike. “Paint the Revolution: Mexican Modernism, 1910–1950”–which includes Maria Izquierdo’s Our Lady of Sorrows, above–opens Oct. 25 at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and charts their multivalent course.

BARBARA KRUGER

After almost three years of renovations and expansion, the galleries of the I.M. Pei–designed East Building of the National Gallery in Washington, D.C., will reopen on Sept. 30. The $30 million project added a rooftop sculpture terrace and two new galleries, providing more than 12,250 sq. ft. of display space. One of the shows that will mark the occasion is a bijou exhibition–just 15 pictures–of work by the American conceptual artist Barbara Kruger. They’re all in her signature style of blunt declarations, like “We don’t need another hero” or “Know nothing, Believe anything, Forget everything,” rendered in sans-serif type and laid over black-and-white photos she finds in magazines. The best of them are pointed–but in slightly oblique directions.

–Richard Lacayo

ART CALENDAR

SEPT. 10

“DOUG AITKEN: ELECTRIC EARTH”

Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art

Moody multiscreen video and film installations, and then some, in a midcareer retrospective.

OCT. 14

“RAGNAR KJARTANSSON”

Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C.

Can any single show manage to summarize the laconically witty, crazily inventive–and sometimes heartbreaking–Icelandic video and performance artist? Let’s see.

OCT. 16

“DEGAS: A NEW VISION”

Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

A broad view of the reluctant French Impressionist, an intricate mind and acute eye attached to a vexed soul.

Oct. 16

“THOMAS STRUTH: NATURE AND POLITICS”

High Museum of Art, Atlanta

More than 30 new works by the canny German photographer, with many glimpses into rarely seen technological and scientific research facilities.

OCT. 26

“PIPILOTTI RIST: PIXEL FOREST”

The New Museum, New York City

The blithe, sensual and phantasmagorical Swiss video artist is ready for her closeup.

NOV. 13

“JOHN MCLAUGHLIN PAINTINGS: TOTAL ABSTRACTION”

Los Angeles County Museum of Art

Hard-edged minimalist abstraction doesn’t get more eye-banging than in the tight quarters of this SoCal artist who died 40 years ago.

NOV. 21

“FRANCIS PICABIA: OUR HEADS ARE ROUND SO OUR THOUGHTS CAN CHANGE DIRECTION”

Museum of Modern Art, New York City

The idiosyncratic French artist was an outlier on the royal road of 20th century modernism, and an interesting one.

Contact us at editors@time.com.

This appears in the September 12, 2016 issue of TIME.

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