The Best Art Exhibitions to See This Fall

The Best Art Exhibitions to See This Fall

With museum exhibition schedules packed more densely than ever, there are a lot of shows to visit this autumn. While titans of art history, such as Ed Ruscha and Judy Chicago, will be the focus of comprehensive retrospectives in New York, there are also countless opportunities for discovery—whether it’s cutting-edge contemporary artists Yvette Mayorga and Donna Huanca, both of whom will have their first major solo shows on the East Coast, or overlooked female makers from centuries past. Ahead, exhibitions across photography, textile art, performance art, and more that everyone from art historians to gourmands and film buffs will delight in experiencing.

Sarah Goodridge, Rose Prentice (1771–1852), ca. 1837–38. Watercolor on ivory. Yale University Art Gallery, Partial gift of Caroline A. Phillips and purchased with the John Hill Morgan, b.a. 1893, ll.b. 1896, hon. 1929, Fund.

The present confronts the past in Mickalene Thomas’s latest exhibition, which marks a departure from her high-glamour paintings of Black women in electric interiors. With “Mickalene Thomas / Portrait of an Unlikely Space,” the artist has designed a new multi-gallery installation that evokes pre-Emancipation-era domestic settings. The period-appropriate furniture-filled rooms are further decorated with American portraits of Black women, men, and children dating to the 18th and 19th centuries, as well as contemporary artworks by Thomas and other artists. The wide range of media on view uniquely links the individuals seen in the historical objects and art with the present-day exhibition-goer, creating an evocative, multigenerational conversation around identity and equity. September 8 to January 7, 2024.

Ed Ruscha, News from News, Mews, Pews, Brews, Stews & Dues, 1970. One from a portfolio of six organic screenprints, 23 1/16 × 31 7/8″ (58.6 × 81 cm). The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Purchased through the generosity of Kathy and Richard S. Fuld, Jr.

© 2023 Edward Ruscha. The Museum of Modern Art, Department of Imaging Services, photo Peter Butler

Co-organized with LACMA, “ED RUSCHA / NOW THEN” will be the legendary West Coast artist’s first solo exhibition at MoMA, as well as his most comprehensive retrospective to date. The show will chart Ruscha’s highly experimental 65-year career through 250 works across all media, including his influential prints and paintings (think bold typography and Standard gasoline stations) and lesser-known areas of his practice. Among the highlights is Chocolate Room (1970), the artist’s only single-room installation, in which hundreds of papers screen-printed with chocolate paste line the walls and floor. Originally created for the United States pavilion during the 35th Venice Biennale, the work is being presented in New York for the first time and reflects an artist who has constantly reinvented his œuvre. September 10 to January 13, 2024.

Delvaux, French fries and burger miniature leather bags, 2017. Gift of Delvaux.

© The Museum at FIT

Featuring more than 80 garments and accessories, this exhibition examines how food has influenced fashion design from the 18th century through today. Beyond merely displaying clothes with cuisine-related motifs, “Food & Fashion” promises a thoughtful analysis of consumerism, gender, sustainability, activism, and body politics. Designed to emulate a sprawling food hall, the main gallery highlights 10 themes: among them, “Sugar, Spice, and Everything Nice?” explores how sweets have been used to represent idealized femininity, and the “Growing Alternative” section discusses how slow fashion is inspired by slow food and future-driven techniques, such as regenerative farming. Standout pieces in the show range from Comme des Garçons’s spring 2018 dress featuring Giuseppe Arcimboldo’s 1590 food portrait of Emperor Rudolf II to Issey Miyake’s 20th anniversary “bento box” of pleated accessories rolled as sushi. This exhibition will provide not only a feast for the eyes, but plenty of food for thought. September 13 to November 26.

Yvette Mayorga, Scorpion After Ouvrière en Porcelaine, 2023. Courtesy of the artist.

If the Museum at FIT’s show has left you with food on the brain, Yvette Mayorga’s first East Coast solo museum exhibition should satiate your sweet tooth. Using her signature bubblegum-pink acrylic paint, applied to canvases via bakery-grade piping bags, the Chicago-based artist subverts notions of femininity as delicate and frivolous. Instead, her work is largely based on personal narrative and her family’s history as Mexican-Americans in the United States. After immigrating there in the 1970s, her mother worked as a baker in a department store, hence the frosting-like finish of Mayorga’s intricate candied reliefs. Behind this fantastical sugar-like veneer, Mayorga addresses the harsh realities of the Latinx diaspora, including issues of border control and labor, while simultaneously recontextualizing rococo and other Western art historical tropes. September 15 to March 17, 2024.

Annie Leibovitz, Alexandra Fuller, Kelly, Wyoming, 2016.

© Annie Leibovitz.

Annie Leibovitz’s first major museum show in years is sure to be the event of the season. In addition to more than 100 of her iconic photographs shot for Vogue, Vanity Fair, and other publications throughout her five-decade career, this exhibition will feature Leibovitz’s first-ever museum commission, which is also Crystal Bridges’s largest photography commission yet. The series’ subjects, who are among today’s most influential figures in their respective fields, range from Lizzo to American artist Simone Leigh, politician and activist Stacey Abrams, and WNBA All-Star Brittney Griner. Leibovitz’s incomparable contribution to photography will also be celebrated during the annual Party at Crystal Bridges on September 14, whose proceeds benefit arts education. September 16 to January 29, 2024.

Sheila Hicks, Peluca verde, 1960-1961, Sheila Hicks.

Photo: Courtesy Fundación Amparo – Museo Amparo, Puebla, Mexico

Organized by the National Gallery of Art, Washington, in collaboration with LACMA, the National Gallery of Canada, and the Museum of Modern Art, “Woven Histories” will make its first stop in Los Angeles this fall. The exhibition explores the relationship between abstract art and woven textiles over the past century, and these interconnected disciplines’ often overlooked role in shaping modernism. The 150-odd works on view range from a 1926 dress by Sonia Delaunay to Sheila Hicks’s yarn-based sculpture from the 1960s and Jeffrey Gibson’s 2019 mixed-media take on Native American craft traditions. September 17 to January 21, 2024.

Barkley L. Hendricks, Bassir (Robert Gowens), 1975. Oil and acrylic on canvas. 83 ½ x 66 in. (212.1 x 167.6 cm.) Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University, Durham; museum purchase with additional funds provided by Jack Neely.

© Barkley L. Hendricks; courtesy of the Estate of Barkley L. Hendricks and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York. Photo: Brian Quinby

Looking at Barkley L. Hendricks’s distinctive portraits of utterly stylish Black subjects, one is quickly struck by their modernity—although the late American artist (1945–2017) gleaned inspiration from centuries-old portraits by the likes of Rembrandt and Bronzino. Hendricks’s love for the Frick has come full circle with this exhibition, which will place his finest works alongside the museum’s holdings. Organized by Frick curator Aimee Ng and consulting curator Antwaun Sargent, the show marks a new chapter for the museum, which is constantly evolving and modernizing, while offering an unprecedented window into Hendrick’s legacy. September 21 to January 7, 2024.

Sarah Biffin, Self-portrait, c. 1842. The Baltimore Museum of Art: Rhoda M. Oakley Prints, Drawings & Photographs Acquisition Fund, Contemporary Deaccessions Endowment, The John Dorsey and Robert W. Armacost Acquisitions Endowment. BMA 2022.199.

Co-organized by the Baltimore Museum of Art and the Art Gallery of Ontario, “Making Her Mark” offers a comprehensive look at female creativity across disciplines from the 15th through 18th centuries. While Venetian Rococo painter Rosalba Carriera and French portraitist Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun are well known today, the vast majority of the 200 works’ makers are far from household names, presenting an exciting opportunity for discovery. Objects range from tapestries and costumes to royal portraits and devotional sculptures, with the decorative arts represented in metalwork, ceramics, and furniture. Vastly overlooked in comparison to their male counterparts, who dominated their industries, these women, working both independently and for major workshops, made indelible marks on European culture and are finally getting their due. October 1 to January 7, 2024.

Camille Claudel. Crouching Woman, about 1884–85. Musée Camille Claudel, Nogent-sur-Seine.

Photo: Marco Illuminati

Speaking of women whose fame historically came second to their male partner’s, the Art Institute of Chicago’s latest exhibition centers around a French artist who intrepidly paved the way for female sculptors. During Camille Claudel’s life, from 1864 to 1943, sculpture was deemed a man’s discipline, between its physical demands and its reliance on nude models. Once in the shadow of her teacher Auguste Rodin, with whom she shared a notorious and ill-fated romance, Claudel became a highly original and passionate sculptor of the human form in her own right, prompting critic Octave Mirbeau to write: “We are in the presence of something unique, a revolt of nature: a woman genius.” Bringing together 60 sculptures from more than 30 institutional and private collections, this exhibition represents a homecoming for Claudel—130 years ago, her work was presented in America for the first time publicly at the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago. October 7 to Feb 19, 2024.

Spike Lee as Mars Blackmon in She’s Gotta Have It (Spike Lee, 1986, 84 min).

Photo: © David C. Lee

Few people touch as many creative and social industries as Spike Lee. The Atlanta-born New Yorker is as famous for his award-winning films, which have poignantly addressed race relations, Black history, and culture, as for his passion for sports, music, fashion, art, and activism. This fall the Brooklyn Museum is offering a rare, ultra-personal look into Lee’s life and career by exhibiting more than 350 objects from his private collection. Items range from works by Black American artists, including Jacob Lawrence and Kehinde Wiley, to instruments belonging to legendary musicians, and of course, plenty of movie and sports memorabilia. Each of the show’s themed sections will be paired with a clip from one of Lee’s films, demonstrating the breadth of his creative vision and storytelling. October 7 to February 4, 2024.

Edgar Degas (French, 1834–1917), Woman Ironing, c. 1876–87. Oil on canvas; 81.3 x 66 cm. National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon, 1972.74.1

Beyond ballerinas and the stage, Degas depicted many sides of French urban life in his prints, drawings, and paintings. From the 1850s onward, the artist was enthralled by the Parisian laundress—a working-class woman frequently seen washing and ironing goods and transferring heavy baskets in the bustling city streets. Like many jobs for women at the time, it was not at all well paid, forcing some laundresses to turn to sex work. Degas created roughly 30 portraits of laundresses over the course of his career, and not only will this exhibition present them together for the first time, but also place them alongside similar depictions by Degas’s contemporaries, such as Gustave Caillebotte and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, and related ephemera. Within this seemingly narrow subject, there is much to unpack about female labor and social class. October 8 to January 14, 2024.

John Singer Sargent (American, 1856–1925), Mrs. Charles E. Inches (Louise Pomeroy), 1887. Oil on canvas. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Anonymous gift in memory of Mrs. Charles Inches’s daughter, Louise Brimmer Inches Seton.

Photo: © Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Evening dress, about 1887-1902. Silk velvet with silk plain weave lining. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Anonymous gift in honor of Louise B. Seton.

Photo: © Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

When gazing at John Singer Sargent’s portraits, it’s impossible to not revel in their sartorial splendor. However, “Fashioned by Sargent” is the first exhibition to focus on this aspect of the American artist’s œuvre. Organized by the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (MFA), and Tate Britain (fitting, as the artist considered both Boston and London home), the exhibition features about 50 paintings, including major loans from private collections and museums—perhaps none more so than the Met’s Madame X (1883-1884). Several portraits will be reunited for the first time with the actual garments they depict, as well as other fashion and accessories from the MFA’s collection. The exhibition illuminates not only Sargent’s gift for capturing fabric, but also the shrewd creative liberties he took when immortalizing his sitters. Every stylistic choice conveyed a message, whether about societal status or gender ambiguity. October 8 to January 15, 2024.

Judy Chicago, Immolation, 1972. Archival pigment print, 36 x 36 in (91.44 x 91.44 cm). © Judy Chicago/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Courtesy the artist.

Spanning three floors, “Herstory” is trailblazing feminist artist Judy Chicago’s largest New York museum survey to date. The show follows her 60-year, multidisciplinary career, from her 1960s sculptural experiments in Minimalism to The Female Divine (2022), a series of 11 monumental banners that pose questions such as, “What if Women Ruled the World?” (A few years ago, they adorned the runway of Dior’s spring/summer 2020 haute couture show.) The museum approached this exhibition as a retrospective-meets-introspective, for after exploring Chicago’s singular impact producing art that confronts social inequality, environmentalism, and genocide, among numerous global issues, the show features an exhibition-within-an-exhibition celebrating other women. “The City of Ladies” features more than 80 female artists, writers, and cultural figures, including Hilma af Klint, Artemisia Gentileschi, Frida Kahlo, and Virginia Woolf, who have shaped both Chicago’s practice and art history at large. October 12 to January 13, 2024.

Donna Huanca

Photo: Tobias Willmann

Since Faurschou, a Copenhagen-based contemporary private museum and art advisory, opened an exhibition space in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, in 2019, it has become known for its thought-provoking juxtapositions of cutting-edge artists. Its latest duo—renowned British artist Tracey Emin and rising American artist Donna Huanca—will each have solo shows bridging immersive installation and performance this fall. Exhibited for the first time in the US is Emin’s Exorcism of the Last Painting I Ever Made. In 1996, the artist locked herself naked in a room at a Stockholm gallery for three weeks to confront her fear and guilt around painting, a medium she had abandoned six years before. Visitors could peer into the room through fish-eye lenses in its exterior walls. The entire room, including the dozens of works Emin produced there, now make up this installation.

Huanca’s first major institutional solo presentation in New York City, SCAR TISSUE (BLURRED EARTH), is a multisensory work that includes paintings, sculpture, sound, and a series of live performances. Seeking to dismantle the hierarchy between artist, performer, viewer, and institution, Huanca conceives performances with the body as a living sculptural entity, often vibrantly painted. October 21 to July 14, 2024.

Ewa Juszkiewicz, 
The Letter (after Adélaïde Labille-Guiard), 2023
. Oil on canvas. 
57 1/16 x 45 1/4 in.

© Ewa Juszkiewicz. Courtesy the artist and Gagosian.

This fall Polish contemporary artist Ewa Juszkiewicz will have her first solo exhibition in California. The Warsaw-based artist, who previously showed with Gagosian in New York, is known for her surreal portraits depicting historical women whose faces are obscured by intricate coiffures, elaborate fabrics, and winding plants. With these enigmatic works, Juszkiewicz disrupts art historical conventions by illustrating how women’s identities have been distorted and marginalized by a patriarchal society. In order to imbue the paintings with a sense of historical authenticity, Juszkiewicz deeply researches the fashions and horticulture appropriate for the sitter’s time. New paintings, including some of the largest works she has ever created (one close to three meters tall), will comprise the show, and her first book with the gallery will be published next year. November 3 to December 22.

Even more shows to see this fall:

“Maya Varadaraj: No Feeling is Final” at Aicon Contemporary. Through September 9.

“Chase Hall: The Bathers“ at David Kordanksy, New York. September 5 to October 14.

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