From Our Archive
This story was published before Summer 2021, when we launched our new digital experience.

Top Summer Art Exhibitions

Whether it’s art of the moment or old master collections, here’s a quick crib sheet to what’s out there.

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Tom Wesselmann
Smoker No.1 (Mouth, 12)
Oil on shaped canvas (two parts)
276.6 x 216 cm
The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Susan Morse Hilles Fund, 1968
© Estate of Tom Wesselmann / SODRAC, Montreal / VAGA, New York (2012)
Photo Digital Image © The Museum of Modern Art/Licensed by SCALA / Art Resource, NY

La Triennale: Intense Proximity
Palais de Tokyo, Paris; through August 26
The third edition of this contemporary showcase will christen the recently expanded Paris museum. Peripatetic curator Okwui Enwezor presides, taking art and ethnography as his theme.

Roy Lichtenstein: A Retrospective
The Art Institute of Chicago; May 16–September 3
Pop is hot this season. This particular survey is the ’60s-era maestro’s largest to date, with more than 160 works on display. (It will travel to Washington, D.C.’s National Gallery of Art in October.)

Tom Wesselmann: Beyond Pop
Montreal Museum of Fine Arts; May 19–October 7
The long undervalued Pop artist finally gets his due with a show of more than 150 paintings, cutouts, sculptures and bas-reliefs. Some called his work sexist; others saw it as a smart riff on post–WWII U.S. consumerism.

Tom Sachs: Space Program: Mars
Park Avenue Armory, New York; May 16–June 17
New York sculptor Tom Sachs transforms the Armory’s 55,000-square-foot Wade Thompson Drill Hall into a theoretical mission to Mars, complete with a handcrafted spaceship, exploratory rovers and craggy Martian terrain.

Documenta (13)
Fridericianum in Kassel, Germany; June 9–September 16
Held roughly once every five years since 1955, Documenta is a leaner, more conceptual Venice Biennale. The 100-day fest includes performances, publications, lectures and a group exhibition exploring “emancipation through art.”

George Bellows
National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; June 10–October 8
Some 140 paintings, drawings and prints by the painter, including his masterful takes on bloodied boxers and a gritty early-20th-century New York, comprise the first major retrospective of his work in more than 30 years.

Edward Hopper
Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid; June 12–September 16
This well-edited survey focuses on the beginning and end of the New York artist’s 50-plus-year career—from his early landscapes and etchings to the moody genre scenes that dominated his later output.

Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art, Helsinki; June 15–October 7
With work by 19 mostly Finnish up-and-comers—conceptual artist Riitta Ikonen and sculptor Kim Simonsson among them—this show documents the ways in which contemporary art and design collide.

Arab Express: The Latest from the Arab World
Mori Art Museum, Tokyo; June 16–October 28
In light of both the Arab Spring and recent developments in countries like Qatar (see “Q”), this exhibit looks at some of the talent emerging from the region, including Iraqi-born photographer Halim Al-Karim.

Gauguin, Cézanne, Matisse: Visions of Arcadia
Philadelphia Museum of Art; June 20–September 3
This is paradise, as conceived by turn-of-the-century European innovators. These artists might have shared a subject, but their renderings couldn’t be more distinct.

Diane Arbus
Martin-Gropius-Bau, Berlin; June 22–September 23
Two hundred black-and-white images by the New York photographer, spanning both the iconic (giants, transvestites, those Shiningesque twins) and the virtually unknown—some of these works have never been displayed publicly.

Alighiero Boetti: Game Plan
The Museum of Modern Art, New York; July 1–October 1
The Arte Povera innovator gets the biggest international presentation of his quirky work to date. Expect signatures in cast iron, words scratched in cement and beautifully embroidered maps.

Gustav Klimt: The Magic of Line
The Getty Center, Los Angeles; July 3–September 23
With 2012 marking the artist’s 150th birthday, this exhibition is the first to focus on the Viennese master’s drawings (he sketched nudes in his studios every day) and the ways in which they contributed to his major stylistic strides.

Yayoi Kusama
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; July 12–September 30
At least one trippy room-sized installation by the 83-year-old Japanese artist, who has lived and worked in a Tokyo psychiatric center since 1977. Why the Whitney? Prior to checking in, she played a prominent role in the ’60s New York scene.

Tino Sehgal 2012
Tate Modern, London; July 24–October 28
Performers create “situations” ranging from spontaneous singing to choreographed canoodling. We’d love to tell you more, but Sehgal insists that performances not be documented, and no details of new commissions may be released.


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