For over four decades, Cindy Sherman has been examining themes of portraiture, the female persona, and mediated social identity, through photographs in which she serves as her own subject, costume designer, make-up artist, and director. The Broads have collected her work in depth for three of them, so it’s fitting that the museum’s first monographic exhibition should be of Sherman. Titled “Imitation of Life” (a reference to the 1959 Douglas Sirk melodrama), the show emphasizes the cinematic and mass media influences that infuse her practice. Including works from 1975 to her recent series on aging starlets of a bygone era, with two site-specific murals, the show counts as a must-see, especially for the city in which celebrity image-making is its own cherished art form. At the Broad, Los Angeles, CA, June 11 – October 2, 2016.
Kelley Walker is a 21st century artist with distinctly 20th century roots; his work exudes a fascination with the popular consumption of mass-media images, evoking Andy Warhol, Sigmar Polke and John Baldessari in his savvy deconstruction of mass-media image-making. This fall, his multivalent practice takes over CAM St. Louis, in his first US solo exhibition, titled “Direct Drive.” At Contemporary Art Museum, St, Louis, MO. September 16 – December 31, 2016.
The concept of recycling gets a potent spin in the sculptural work of veteran LA artist John Outterbridge, whose work features such distressed or discarded materials as scrap metal, rags, rubber, tools, twigs, bones, and hair. His engaging exhibition “Rag Man,” focused on his work of the last 15 years, was originally organized by the Hammer Museum and presented at Art + Practice, in Los Angeles. At Aspen Art Museum, Aspen, CO. July 1 – October 16, 2016.
Few artists are willing, or able, to engage history with the visceral impact of Kara Walker. Known for her stark, startling cut-paper narrative murals examining the entwined mythologies around slavery, race, sexuality and power, in 2014, she drew crowds with her giant busty sugar sphinx in a historic Brooklyn sugar factory, presented by CreativeTime. This fall, her work is on view in two separate facets. “The Ecstasy of St. Kara” at Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, OH, featuring Walker’s recent large-scale works on paper, September 10 – December 31, 2016. “Emancipating the Past: Kara Walker’s Tales of Slavery and Power” at the Bellevue Arts Museum, Seattle, WA, presents three narrative portfolio series as well as single works that highlight the themes of her tableaux. July 8 – November 27, 2016.
For museum-goers used to gazing at artwork with voyeuristic impunity, the figurative grouping titled “Thirteen Laughing At Each Other” by Spanish sculptor Juan Muñoz might come as a shock: the work presents several clusters of life-size bronze figures, who are seemingly laughing at viewers from their perch on raised, bleacher-like benches. The last work created by the artist, who died in 2001, the piece greets viewers on the museum’s rooftop terrace, at Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL, through October 5, 2016.