Not everything feels “normal” just yet, but the fully packed September arts calendar certainly does. And the spate of shows like a restaging of a monumental Diane Arbus retrospective and screening of Meriem Bennani’s delightfully kooky lizard videos opening in the weeks to come are just the beginning: October will see Alex Katz mark a career milestone with a takeover of the Guggenheim Museum, Paris host its first-ever Art Basel, and so much more. Here, a guide to all the goings-on you’d do well not to miss.
“Objects of Desire” at LACMA
Fine art and commercial photography have long existed in tandem; in fact, the latter made Andy Warhol into who he is today. On September 4, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art will delve into how photo-based artists such as Barbara Kruger, Hank Willis Thomas, Roe Ethridge, and Sarah Charlesworth have manipulated the visual language of consumerism in “Objects of Desire: Photography and the Language of Advertising.” The “Stock Photography” and “Humor” sections promise to be particularly amusing.
Diane Arbus @ David Zwirner Gallery
A half century after Diane Arbus’s monumental retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art, David Zwirner and Fraenkel Gallery are reviving the exhibition by reuniting all 113 photographs on its checklist. Opening on September 14, “cataclysm. The 1972 Diane Arbus Retrospective Revisited” is a look back at how one single museum showing proved the public that photography merits the status of fine art.
Sol LeWitt @ Paula Cooper
Sol LeWitt’s monumentally scaled wall drawings and structures are just something you have to experience in person. Paula Cooper first introduced them to the world in 1968, and on September 9, she’s set to put them back on the map by devoting her two New York galleries to the late conceptual artist’s colossal works.
Solange @ the New York City Ballet
Listening to Solange Knowles’s new music won’t be as easy as pulling up Spotify. But it’ll no doubt be worth the trek to the New York City Ballet to hear the score it’s commissioned to accompany Gianna Reisen’s choreography. Premiering at the NYCB’s annual fashion gala on September 28, the performances will continue throughout October and start up again in May of 2023.
Meriem Bennani at the Whitney Museum of American Art
We’re all beyond tired of talking about life amid lockdown. And yet, trust me: Meriem Bennani will make you want to revisit that era again and again and again. At the time, most artists were participating in what quickly became known as OVRs—“online viewing rooms,” which are exactly as static compared to IRL showings as they sound. The Moroccan artist did something entirely unlike anyone else: She translated the public’s uncomfortable feelings into surreal dispatches from a duo of amphibians we hope to see much, much more of after “2 Lizards” begins its four-month run at the Whitney Museum on September 30.
Just Above Midtown @ the MoMA
If this is the first time you’re hearing about the erstwhile gallery Just Above Midtown, you aren’t alone. Its enormous influence has been woefully overlooked in the decades since Linda Goode Bryant turned it into a hub for Black artists from 1974 until ‘86, making the tribute on view at the Museum of Modern Art beginning October 9 long overdue. The exhibition’s organization is loosely chronological, beginning with Bryant’s mission to “present African-American artists on the same platform with other established artists” and following how it became a collaborative, experimental breeding ground for David Hammons, Lorraine O’Grady, and more over the next dozen years.
Cecilia Vicuña at the Tate Modern
Artist takeovers of the Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall have yet to disappoint in the 22 years since Louise Bourgeois inaugurated the annual commission. And when she follows in the legendary artist’s footsteps on October 11, Cecilia Vicuña—whom the Venice Biennale awarded the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement earlier this year—will no doubt uphold that tradition. The Tate Modern has yet to release much in the way of details about the installation, but we’re going to guess that it’ll be comprised of some of the Chilean artist and poet’s most ambitious textile sculptures yet.
Paris+, par Art Basel @ the Grand Palais Éphémère
It’s hard to believe that two decades after Art Basel began branching out from Switzerland, the mega art fair has yet to choose Paris as one of its satellite locations. That changes on October 20, when the newly created Paris+ will take over the Grand Palace Éphémère for four days of what’ll amount to billions of dollars of art-related purchases. (You better check out the exhibition space, which is located in the 7ème arrondissement, while you can; a demolition is planned for when the Grand Palais finishes its renovation for the 2024 Summer Olympics.)
Alex Katz @ the Guggenheim
Is an eight-decade spanning solo exhibition of a living—not to mention iconic—artist possible? Somehow, yes. On October 21, the Guggenheim will give Alex Katz the massive retrospective in his hometown of New York that he’s long, long deserved. Titled “Gathering,” the show begins with sketches of MTA riders that the 95-year-old artist made back in the 1940s. Prepare to rue the fact that he turned around 1,000 of the paintings he made in the decade that followed into kindling even further.
Méret Oppenheim @ the MoMA
Iconic as it may be, it’s hard to believe that it took Méret Oppenheim’s 1936 sculpture Object (Le déjeuner en fourrure) for New York City’s Museum of Modern Art to acknowledge that artists who happened to be women could be well worth including in its permanent collection. Eighty-six years later, the institution is finally giving the German-born Swiss Surrealist artist (who died in 1985 at age 72) her proper due. On October 30, the institution will mount “My Exhibition,” a sprawling retrospective that spans six decades of Oppenheim’s work. In doing so, it proves that she was so, so much more than the teacup, saucer, and spoon entirely enveloped in fur that remains the only reason many know her name. Fortunately, you have until March of 2023 to take it all in.