Where: Neue Nationalgalerie
When: January 26 – April 28
Why It’s Worth a Look: Unspooling Josephine Baker’s role as a performer, muse, and activist, this expansive show brings together the work of both historic and contemporary artists—everyone from Henri Matisse to Faith Ringgold—to examine how the legend’s legacy has shifted in the public consciousness over time.
Know Before You Go: This exhibition is a choral exercise in curation. Neue Nationalgalerie Director Klaus Biesenbach tapped film scholar Dr. Terri Francis to contextualize Baker’s role as a cinematic trailblazer and artist Kandis Williams to elaborate the show’s dramaturgy and design. Dr. Mona Horncastle, who previously curated “Josephine Baker. Freedom – Equality – Humanity” at Bonn’s Bundeskunsthalle, brings a biographical lens to the show’s narrative thrust.
Where: The Brooklyn Museum
When: February 10 – July 7
Why It’s Worth a Look: Swizz Beatz and Alicia Keys took an “artists supporting artists approach” to building their collection, one that celebrates both legendary and contemporary Black artists such as Lorna Simpson, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Nina Chanel Abney, and Arthur Jafa. The first major unveiling of the Dean collection celebrates these cultural giants and their impact on the trajectory of the current art world.
Know Before You Go: The couple shares a deep love of photography, especially the work of Gordon Parks. After co-chairing the image-maker’s foundation for well over a decade, they will receive the Gordon Parks Patrons of the Arts Award this May.
Where: The Metropolitan Museum of Art
When: February 25 – July 28
Why It’s Worth a Look: With over 160 works exhibited, this survey examines the artistic effervescence in urban centers that saw an influx of Black communities between WWI and WWII, when millions of African-Americans relocated from the segregated South. Featuring work by the likes of Charles Alston, Augusta Savage, James Van Der Zee, and Winold Reiss, the show surfaces how art created by and depicting the Black diaspora shaped modern art as we know it.
Know Before You Go: The Met’s exhibition is the first major survey about the Harlem Renaissance in New York in over 35 years.
Where: ICA Philadelphia
When: February 10 – June 2
Why It’s Worth a Look: Over the past decade, Tomashi Jackson has straddled the fields of painting, video, print-making, and sculpture to create work that mines the social-political topography of the United States. Her project at the 2019 Whitney Biennial juxtaposed the ongoing eviction epidemic in Brooklyn with the raising of Seneca Village in Central Park. The Houston native’s latest solo exhibition is the first to address the expansive nature of the artist’s oeuvre.
Know Before You Go: Jackson cites Josef Albers, and his theories on chromatic perception, as a major influence in how she treats color.
Where: Montreal Museum of Fine Arts
When: February 10 – June 2
Why It’s Worth a Look: With more than 120 works on display, this exhibition puts two titans of 20th-century art in conversation, emphasizing their shared fascination with the relationship between humankind and the natural world. This is the first time that O’Keefe’s paintings and Moore’s sculpture have been placed in dialogue with each other.
Know Before You Go: For even more insight on the artists’ practices and their parallels, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts has recreated both O’Keefe and Moore’s studios, complete with the strikingly similar found objects they both collected.
Where: Tate Modern
When: February 15 – September 1
Why It’s Worth a Look: For the largest exhibition of Ono’s work in the U.K. to date, the Tate collaborated closely with the iconic artist’s studio to bring together early work from the 1950s all the way through 2017, the “heart” of the show being her five-year stay in London in the late ‘60s.
Know Before You Go: Ono often brings an interactive element to her installations. The culminating installation of this exhibition is a reimagining of the artist’s seminal work My Mommy Is Beautiful, a project initiated 20 years ago. The work features a long wall of canvas where attendees can add photos of their own mothers.
Where: Louisiana Museum of Modern Art
When: February 9 – July 14
Why It’s Worth a Look: Presenting over 70 works from private collections and museums across the globe, “Chaïm Soutine” focuses on one of the leading figures of the expressionist School of Paris. The show marks the first time the painter’s work has been shown in Northern Europe.
Know Before You Go: After painting a portrait of an Orthodox Jewish man (which is against religious doctrine), Soutine was severely beaten by the man’s sons. The money that was paid to Soutine and his family as compensation then funded his travel to Vilnius and subsequent enrollment in art school.
Where: The Menil Collection
When: February 23 – August 11
Why It’s Worth a Look: Though her career was very short—only 4 years—Janet Sobel had a meteoric rise, going from group shows in 1943 to a 1946 solo show at Peggy Guggenheim’s Art of This Century Gallery. It was Guggenheim who would call Sobel “the best woman painter by far (in America).”
Know Before You Go: Sobel pioneered “all-over abstraction,” even preceding the better-known practitioner of the technique, Jackson Pollock.
Where: Centre Pompidou
When: February 28 – August 26
Why It’s Worth a Look: A computer scientist, cybernetician, and artist, Vera Molnár was a pioneering figure in digital art, creating up until her death in 2023 at the age of 99. Her last works? Using A.I. to create art. The Pompidou retrospective brings together pieces from throughout her seven-decade career, with her digital works starting as early as 1946.
Know Before You Go: Molnár was the first French artist to produce drawings using a computer and plotter, which she did in 1968.
Where: Guggenheim Bilbao
When: March 1 – June 9
Why It’s Worth a Look: Over her decade-long career, Spanish sculptor June Crespo has probed humanity’s destructive relationship to the natural environment. In her latest show, the artist investigates interstitial elements that surround us, like locks, frameworks, and conduits. The act of placing items next to or on top of one another creates a poetic dialogue between metal and negative space, paper and air.
Know Before You Go: In an interview with Elisa Muscatelli, Crespo described her creative process in this way: “When I work there is not a precise idea, but a more precise intuition, something to which I cannot give a name, and these intuitions, emotions, perceptions are translated into the way I combine the materials and also in their interaction.”
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