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The fall season is upon us, and art lovers’ thoughts turn to museum exhibitions. Here’s our very short list of what not to miss.

North America

Lalla Assia Essaydi, “Bullet Revisited #3” (2012), triptych, three chromogenic prints on aluminum (courtesy the artist, Miller Yezerski Gallery Boston, and Edwynn Houk Gallery NYC) (via

Boston: Arab and Iranian Women Photographers at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (until January 12, 2014)

Featuring the work of Jananne Al-Ani, Boushra Almutawakel, Gohar Dashti, Rana El Nemr, Lalla Essaydi, Shadi Ghadirian, Tanya Habjouqa, Rula Halawani, Nermine Hammam, Rania Matar, Shirin Neshat, and Newsha Tavakolian, this show continues the emergence of photography from West Asia and North Africa on the international stage.

Brooklyn: Behind Closed Doors: Power and Privilege in the Spanish American Home, 1492–1898 at the Brooklyn Museum (September 13–January 12, 2014)

This promises to be an important show that will highlight the Brooklyn Museum’s very strong collection of Spanish Colonial art. Through roughly 160 paintings, sculptures, prints, textiles, and decorative art objects, this exhibition presents “for the first time American, European, and Asian luxury goods from everyday life as signifiers of the faith, wealth, taste, and socio-racial standing of their consumers.” The show will travel next year to Albuquerque, New Orleans, and Sarasota, Florida.

Chicago: Art and Appetite: American Painting, Culture and Cuisine at the Art Institute of Chicago (November 3–January 12, 2014)

The US is full of people who like to eat a lot, and our art undoubtedly reflects that compulsion. Whether it’s Pop Art or Edward Hopper’s “Nighthawks,” this show might surprise you in terms of how much of our culture revolves around food. I’d like to point out that this show is sponsored by Archer Daniels Midland Company, which is an American global food-processing and commodities-trading corporation, headquartered in Illinois.

Houston: Wols at the Menil Collection (September 13–January 12, 2014)

Wols work may have gone out of fashion in the last few decades, but this show is sure to revive his legacy as a leading figure in Tachisme, a painting movement considered to be the European equivalent of Abstract Expressionism. As the museum explains in its promotional materials, Wols once explained his vision of the world by referring to a crack in the sidewalk: “Look at that crack. It is like one of my drawings. It’s a living thing. It will grow … It was created by the only force that is real.”

Forrest Bess, “Untitled” (1957), oil on canvas (The Museum of Modern Art, New York, gift of Adam Kimmel) (digital Image © The Museum of Modern Art, NY/Licensed by SCALA/Art Resource, NY) (via

Los Angeles: Forrest Bess at the Hammer Museum (September 29–January 4, 2014)

If you missed this show in Houston, have no fear: the show will be on view in Los Angeles, and you can experience the fascinating world of Forrest Bess at the Hammer Museum. While Bess may be best remembered as a pseudo-hermaphrodite, he was also a wonderful painter. Discover that for yourself.

Manhattan: Radical Presence: Black Performance in Contemporary Art — Part One at Grey Art Gallery (until December 7) and Part Two at the Studio Museum in Harlem (November 14–March 9, 2014)

Surveying the emergence of African-American performance art, Radical Presence promises to be a landmark show and features the work of Benjamin Patterson, David Hammons, Senga Nengudi, Tameka Norris, Trenton Doyle Hancock, William Pope L., Coco Fusco, Dread Scott, Kalup Linzy, Carrie Mae Weems, and many others. See this for sure!

Manhattan: Rene Magritte: The Mystery of the Ordinary 1926–38 at the Museum of Modern Art (September 22—January 12, 2014)

This extremely popular Surrealist is sure to bring the crowds to MoMA. Good luck seeing the paintings amidst the throngs of visitors, but in the rare chance that you find yourself in an empty gallery, try to savor it.

Zhang Huan, “Family Tree; 张洹 家谱” (2001), nine chromogenic prints; each 21 x 16 1/2 in. (53.3 x 41.9 cm) (Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Leonard C. Hanna, Jr., Class of 1913, Fund) (via

Manhattan: Ink Art: Past as Present in Contemporary China at the Metropolitan Museum (December 11–April 6, 2014)

It’s great to see the grande dame of American museums exploring something outside its comfort zone, so this show, which features 35 contemporary Chinese artists, is a welcome addition to our understanding of the historical threads that work their way into contemporary art from China and beyond. The artistic dialogue of the placement of the work in the historic Asian galleries will be an interesting thing to see.

Manhattan: Christopher Wool at the Guggenheim Museum (October 25–January 22, 2014)

Wool is a contemporary artist who has been exploring the limits of painting and how we “see” art for decades. This show will bring together a wide spectrum of his work and, hopefully, lead to a deeper understanding of his interest in playing with our assumptions about picture making and making us reconsider what we normally take for granted in an artwork.

Toronto: David Bowie Is … at the Art Gallery of Ontario (September 25–November 27)

This is the first North American stop for the exhibition organized by the Victoria & Albert Museum in London. David Bowie Is… places this pop star at the crossroads of emerging styles and sensibilities of the era. The show promises to explore many of his artistic influences, including “his experiments with Surrealism, German Expressionism, Music Hall, mime, and Japanese Kabuki performance.”

Queens: Isamu Noguchi and Qi Baishi: 1930 at the Isamu Noguchi Museum (September 25—January 26, 2014)

Organized in collaboration with the University of Michigan Museum of Art, this show proposes to illuminate a little-known connection between two important figures in 20th-century art. From July 1930 to January 1931, Isamu Noguchi paid an unexpected visit to Beijing and was introduced to Qi Baishi, whose work he initially encountered at the home of a collector. The sculptor, who is often associated with mid-century American modernism, studied with the Chinese master, who is popularly known nowadays for his high auction prices. What did Noguchi learn from Qi? Visitors are sure to find out.

Washington, DC: Damage Control: Art and Destruction at the Hirshhorn Museum (October 24–February 9, 2014)

Whether this is the “first in-depth exploration of the theme of destruction in international contemporary visual culture” or not, this show is sure to probe our fascination with post-apocalyptic scenarios and general mayhem.


Berlin: Diversity Destroyed: Berlin 1933–1938 at Deutsches Historisches Museum (until November 10)

In the 1930s, Berlin was one of the most dynamic cities in the world, rivaled only by New York, Paris, London, but then the rise of the Nazi party changed and destroyed all that. Berlin may now be back as one of the world’s most important cultural centers, but this show demonstrates that no one should take a city’s liberal culture for granted since it can disappear at any second.

Düsseldorf: Cadida Höfer at Museum Kinstpalast (until February 9, 2014)

This exhibition of roughly 100 works will concentrate on art created by Höfer in Düsseldorf in the course of four decades. It looks like it’s poised to tell the story of this German city as much as the photographer’s work.

Liverpool: Art Turning Left at Tate Liverpool (November 1–February 16, 2014)

I will let the press release speak for itself:

Art Turning Left is the first exhibition to examine how the production and reception of art has been influenced by left-wing values, from the French Revolution to the present day. Left-wing political values such as collectivism, equality and the search for alternative economies have continuously influenced the making of art and visual culture, from the way in which William Morris organised his production line to the deliberate anonymity of the designers of the Atelier Populaire posters in Paris 1968.

Jake and Dinos Chapman, “One Day You WIll No Longer Be Loved II (No 6)” (2008) (© Jake and Dinos Chapman, photograph by Todd-White Art Photography)(via Tate Britain)

London: Art Under Attack: Histories of Iconoclasm in Britain at Tate Britain (October 2–January 5, 2014)

When our writer Allison Meier previewed this show a few months back, she wrote:

The works will include those that are blatantly offensive, and it’s not hard to imagine them invoking some rage, like Allen Jones’ “Chair” (1969) that has a woman shown as a piece of furniture and feminists attacked with paint stripper. There’s also Edward Burne Jones’ overly sensual “Sibylla Delphica” (1898) attacked by suffragettes in 1913 at the Manchester Art Gallery. Yet there are also political art attacks, like Frederick Duleep Singh, a monarchist who is known to have had a portrait of royalist defeater Oliver Cromwell hanging upside down in his bathroom

London: Shunga: Sex and Pleasure in Japanese Art at British Museum (October 2–January 5, 2014)

This Japanese genre of works may have inspired artists such as Toulouse-Lautrec, Beardsley, Rodin, and Picasso, but it is not very well understood in the West, even as it continues to influence contemporary manga, anime, and Japanese tattoo art. My guess is that this show will both titillate and educate.

Oslo: Munch 150: A Retrospective at Munch Museet (until October 13)

Two of his major frieze projects will also be reconstructed for this exhibition celebrating one of the best-known Scandinavian figures in Expressionism and modern art.

Paris: Acquisitions from Abu Dhabi at the Louvre (October–June 2014)

What can money buy? A lot, so prepare to be impressed by the treasure of the Louvre Abu Dhabi, which will go on display at the mothership in Paris. The newest encyclopedic museum on the global block is continuing to acquire works by Old Masters such as Luca Giordano, Jacob Jordaens, Giovanni Bellini, and Jacopo Bassano, and art by Modern Masters like Paul Gauguin and Édouard Manet. Strangely, we could not find a link to this show, though it is listed in various places, both online and off.


Tel Aviv: Jeff Wall: Visibility at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art (ends January 12, 2014)

A survey of this Canadian artist’s important accomplishments in the world of photography and contemporary art will be in the spotlight in this exhibition. His images tell stories and inspire dialogues that have (and will continue to) fill catalogues and books for years to come.


This Incan mask (SICÁN-LAMBAYEQUE culture: Mask, north coast 750–1375 AD) will be part of the blockbuster show at the National Gallery of Australia later this year. (via

Canberra: Gold and the Incas at the National Gallery of Australia (December 6–April 21, 2014)

It’s notable that this show is the first exhibition of Peruvian art ever staged in Australia and will include numerous masterpieces from Peru for the special occasion.

Sydney: War Is Over! (If You Want It): Yoko Ono at the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia (November 15–February 23, 2014)

Spanning five decades, this Yoko Ono retrospective is sure to explore the artist’s love of pacifism, struggle, and loss. Something tells me she will try to do a few unorthodox things as well.


Cape Town: Against the Grain: Five Sculptors in Wood at the National Gallery of South Africa (until November 17)

Artists Isaac Makeleni, Ishmael Thyssen, Shepherd Mbanya, Timothy Mafenuka, and Thami Kiti are featured in this show that “questions their present exclusion from the South African artistic canon as well as the lack of appreciation of the work of black African wood sculptors in present discourses about contemporary African art.” Sounds like a must-see.


In the last decade, the art world has spawned a global network of seemingly endless biennials, so here are a few this fall:

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Hrag Vartanian

Hrag Vartanian is editor-in-chief and co-founder of Hyperallergic. You can follow him at @hragv.

11 replies on “Museum Shows to See in the Fall of 2013”

  1. The Carnegie International opens in early October in Pittsburgh. I was hoping to see it here, since, in addition to the Carnegie Museum of Art and the Warhol Museum, the Mattress Factory will also exhibit work.

      1. Ah, yes. I missed it because it was all the way at the bottom. It isn’t really a biennial, and it’s certainly not new. It dates back to the late 19th century.

      1. Regardless, Peter Schumann deserves a place on any “short list” of museum shows to see this fall….(you imply this is a ‘must-see’ list of SHOWS, not a Museum “Shoutout” List….)

        1. Well, the other thing is we’re still waiting for more information on those shows and a concrete opening date … which doesn’t appear to exist. And perhaps you’re reading into the term “shout out.”

          1. You claimed to have skipped mentioning Peter Schumann b/c of desire to
            “give some other institutions a shout out”….that’s a pretty straight
            read as far as I can tell. But anyway, I look forward to Peter getting the
            credit/attention/etc he is LONG overdue in the “Art World”.

  2. How strange that the only entries from Asia are an exhibit from Israel and the Kobe Bienniale. Nothing from China, India (etc). . . ?

    1. The Singapore Biennial is listed too, but a bigger issue is that many museums in that region have websites that are not regularly updated and do not send out regular listings. If you know where we can look for future lists, let us know.

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