Because the anxiety of influence has given way to the joys of networking, in this group show of artists whose junior members happen to be SVA grads. Discoveries abound: Inka Essenhigh tips her hat to Francesco Clemente, Lisa Kirk to David Hammons, and Kate Gilmore and Mika Rottenberg give props to Marilyn Minter. Visual Arts Gallery; Aug. 26–Sept. 21.
Because it’s a moment for this mid-career artist, who smoothly mixes Buddhism and hip-hop, Op Art and the Underground Railroad, craft and conceptualism, in low-key, unpredictable multimedia pieces. Dancers spin within sand mandalas, patchwork quilts echo star charts, and trees grow from pianos. “Cosmic Voodoo Circus,” SculptureCenter; Sept. 10–Nov. 28; and “Sweet Funk—An Introspective,” Brooklyn Museum; Sept. 23–Jan. 8.
Because there are no images of the towers in flames. Instead, works mostly made before the attacks show the resonances of art: George Segal’s 1998 white-painted bronze of a woman on a park bench recalls the ash-flaked figures of that day, and speakers emitting Renaissance music in Janet Cardiff’s 2001 Forty Part Motet stand in for absent choir members. MoMA P.S. 1; Sept. 11–Jan. 9.
“Infinite Jest: Caricature and Satire from Leonardo to Levine”
Because it’s somehow comforting to see that monstrous human folly—greed, lies, riots, war—is no worse than ever. This show collects scathing assessments of our collective absurdity in drawings and prints by artists from Goya to Enrique Chagoya. Metropolitan Museum; Sept. 13–March 4.
“Eva Hesse Spectres 1960”
Because these eighteen haunting early paintings have never before been brought together in a museum show. The sculptor’s death at age 34 in 1970 turned every scrap from her hand, including these macabre self-portraits, into an object of fascination. Brooklyn Museum; Sept. 16–Jan. 8.
“David Smith: Cubes and Anarchy”
Because visitors can judge for themselves whether Smith’s imposing geometric sculptures merit the $20 million–plus they were catching at auction a few years ago. Several of the sculptor’s mammoth, glinting Cubi will take over the museum’s fourth floor, like sleeping giants of the steel age. Whitney Museum of American Art; opening Oct. 6.
“Civic Action: A Vision for Long Island City”
Because the industrious rogue curator Amy Smith-Stewart (also at the helm of “The Influentials,” see above) has brought Rirkrit Tiravanija and three other artists to Long Island City to challenge developer-driven models of neighborhood change. Their yearlong projects will culminate in giant models at Socrates Sculpture Park. Noguchi Museum; Oct. 12–April 22.
“Carsten Höller: Experience”
Because visitors will be able to disrobe and climb into a watery sensory-deprivation tank, where, while bobbing around, they can consider a ride on a maddeningly slow mirrored carousel, purposely designed to induce boredom. The Swedish-Belgian artist makes structures to tweak perception, like a pair of upside-down-and-reverse goggles that will also be on view. New Museum; Oct. 26–Jan. 15.
“The Radical Camera: New York’s Photo League, 1936–1951”
Because this cooperative of men and women—among them Berenice Abbott, Lisette Model, Aaron Siskind, and Paul Strand—were like a nerd-cool Justice League, armed with cameras as weapons against rich guys and sentimentalists. The Jewish Museum; Nov. 4–March 25.
“The Bearden Project”
Because the collagist and street chronicler Romare Bearden, who would have been 100 this September, is the spark for these new works by Glenn Ligon, Dave McKenzie, Mark Bradford, Rob Pruitt, Lorna Simpson, Wangechi Mutu, and many more. Studio Museum in Harlem; Nov. 10–March 11.
“Sherrie Levine: Mayhem”
Because (almost) everyone’s an appropriation artist now, and she set the stage for today’s rampant quoting of art via objects. The retrospective includes her famous photos of famous photos, as well as more recent installations like Crystal Skull: 1–12.Whitney Museum of American Art; opening Nov. 10.
Because Rothenberg paints like an avenging angel, with thirteen new images of birds and bodies half-submerged in green-gray paint. Her tenth solo show with the gallery pushes her balance of figure and ground into the realm of mastery. Sperone Westwater; Sept. 8–Oct. 29.
Because this is the octogenarian portraitist’s first show since ditching blue-chip Pace, to keep company with the edgier Gavin Brown crowd, such as Peter Doig, Joe Bradley, and Elizabeth Peyton, all in turn influenced by Katz. Bright, geometric portraits and wildflower paintings hint at his spring museum retrospective. Gavin Brown’s enterprise; Sept. 10-Oct. 8.
Eve Sussman & the Rufus Corporation, “whiteonwhite: algorithmicnoir”
Because a desolate oil town on the Asian steppes is the perfect setting for a man-trapped-in-the-corporate-machine film. Sussman and her collaborators let a computer algorithm determine the order of the scenes. Cristin Tierney Gallery; Sept. 15–Oct. 22.
“Matthew Barney: DJED”
Because Barney manages to make material the truism that cars represent the soul of America. Inspired by Norman Mailer’s reincarnation clunker Ancient Evenings, he’s crafted a 25-ton iron sculpture out of the undercarriage of a 1967 Chrysler Crown Imperial; it gets reborn as a 1979 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am and a 2001 Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptor. Gladstone Gallery; Sept. 17–Oct. 22.