TWENTY TOP SHOWS

Philip Guston
Ladder
1978
National Gallery of Art
National Gallery of Art
Feb. 1-Sept. 13, 2009
Seven paintings plus prints and drawings from 1949 to 1980 by the Abstract Expressionist comics artist, inaugurating a new series of shows sited in the NGA’s "Tower Gallery," former home of Matisse’s cut-outs, which have been moved to the Concourse.

Walker Evans
Postcard Display
1941, printed later
Metropolitan Museum of Art
Feb. 3-May 25, 2009
In what sounds to be a rather eccentric display, the Met is showing 9,000 picture postcards collected by Walker Evans, plus a dozen photos printed in 1936 on postcard-format photographic paper. The exhibition purports to show the connection between this vernacular photography tradition and Evans’ work, and is apparently important enough to warrant a 350-page-long, $65 catalogue.

Paul Graham
New Orleans (Woman Eating)
2004
Museum of Modern Art
© 2009 Paul Graham
Museum of Modern Art
Feb. 4-May 18, 2009
Organized by Susan Kismaric, this show focuses on selections from the work of British-born photographer Paul Graham, who captured "unheralded moments" in the lives of individuals he met while travelling the U.S., and organized the images into structurally inventive series.

Work in "Patron and Painter: Situ Panchen and the Revival of the Encampment Style"
Rubin Museum of Art
Feb. 6-Aug. 17, 2009
Fifty paintings, sculptures and illuminated manuscript pages from the 12th to the 19th century, illustrating the influence of Situ Panchen Chokyi Jungne (1700-1774), godfather of the so-called "Encampment Style," associated with the travelling courts of Tibetan Buddhism. The show is put together by scholar David Jackson and Rubin curator Dr. Karl Debreczeny.

Shepard Fairey
Mujer Fatal
2007
Courtesy of the artist
Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston
Feb. 6-Aug. 16, 2008
Screen prints, stencils, stickers, rubylith illustrations, collages and public art works by the street artist best known for his "Andre the Giant" street tags and iconic, ubiquitous poster of Barack Obama. Sponsored by Levi Strauss & Co.

Jan Lievens
The Lamentation of Christ
ca. 1640
Bayerisches Staatsgemäldesammlungen
Milwaukee Art Museum
Feb. 7-Apr. 26, 2009
Forty-five paintings in a survey of the career of Jan Lievens (1607-1674), a child prodigy and contemporary of Rembrandt, feted in his time but these days overshadowed by the more celebrated artist. Organized by Arthur K. Wheelock Jr., a curator at the National Gallery of Art, where this show originated.

William Kentridge
Underweysung der Messung
2007
Henry Art Gallery, Seattle
Feb. 7-May 3, 2009
Three galleries of films, plus drawings, prints, sculpture, a performance work (on Mar. 9) and a selection of recent photogravures by the celebrated South African artist. Organized by Elizabeth Brown, it all makes its way to the Pacific Northwest on the occasion of Kentridge’s staging of Monteverdi opera’s The Return of Ulysses at Seattle’s Pacific Operaworks.

Jeremy Deller
Photo by Hainsley Brown
New Museum
Feb. 11-Mar. 22, 2009
The British artist Jeremy Deller brings the war home, or into the museum, anyway, by inviting an assortment of people involved in the Iraq War -- veterans, journalists, scholars and Iraqis -- to "take up residence" in the New Museum to discuss the conflict with museum visitors. The artist also plans to go on a Creative Time-sponsored cross-country road trip with a handful of these experts, with the remains of a car-bombed vehicle in tow. The show as a whole later appears at both the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago.

Desiree Holman
The Magic Window (still)
2007
© 2008 Desiree Holman
Photo courtesy of the artist and the Silverman Gallery
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
Feb. 12-May 10, 2009
The Society for the Encouragement of Contemporary Art (SECA), a group affiliated with SFMoMA, honors the four most promising Bay Area artists of 2008 with an exhibition.

Martin Johnson Heade
Cattleya Orchid and Three Brazilian Hummingbirds
1871
National Gallery of Art
Yale Center for British Art
Feb. 12-May 3, 2009
Paintings, drawings and sculptures investigating the impact of Charles Darwin’s ideas on the visual arts, including visual sources used by Darwin for his Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals (1872) as well as works by his contemporaries like Martin Johnson Heade, Edward Lear, James Tissot and Dante Gabriel Rossetti. The show is co-organized with the Fitzwilliam Museum at the University of Cambridge, and draws on that collection. It is part of the celebration of the 150th anniversary of the Origin of the Species.

Edvard Munch
Anxiety
1894
Art Institute of Chicago
Feb. 14-Apr. 26, 2009
Seventy-five paintings and 75 works on paper by the celebrated Norwegian modernist, whose works are juxtaposed with others by James Ensor, Vincent van Gogh and Claude Monet to reveal "surprising connections." Curated by Jay A. Clarke.

Dan Graham
Skateboard Pavilion
1989
Courtesy Marian Goodman Gallery
Photo by Steven White
Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles
Feb. 15-May 25, 2009
Photographs, film and video, architectural models, indoor and outdoor pavilions, conceptual projects for magazine pages, drawings, prints and writings by the pioneering conceptual artist. The exhibition is organized by Bennett Simpson and Chrissie Iles, and subsequently appears at the Whitney Museum in New York.

Pieter van der Heyden
Desidia (Sloth)
1558
Hammer Museum, UCLA
Feb. 15-May 24, 2009
An exercise in feminist critique organized by L.A.-based artist Francesca Gabbiani, the show juxtaposes "images of aging, mutating, shape-shifting women and criminals against those of stately queens, vibrant gypsies, voluptuous whores, doomed classical goddesses, and sultry art nouveau beauties," all selected from the UCLA graphics collection.

Wine label by Pablo Picasso
Wolfsonian, Florida International University, Miami Beach
Sixty-plus works of art produced for wine labels from the Chateau Mouton Rothschild, a tradition since 1924. Artists represented include Francis Bacon, Balthus, Georges Braque, Marc Chagall, Salvador Dali, Keith Haring, Joan Miro, Robert Motherwell, Pablo Picasso and Andy Warhol. The exhibition also marks the unveiling of the wine’s 2006 label.

Agnes Denes
Isometric Systems in Isotropic Space -- Map Projections: The Snail
1979
Whitney Museum of American Art
Whitney Museum of American Art
Feb. 19-May 3, 2009
This selection of Earth Art, performance and process art -- mainly selections from the Whit’s permanent collection -- tantalizingly promises to expose the viewer to "new types of spaces, whose qualities might be unbound, drawn in, or otherwise made pliant by their creators."

Azzedine Alaia
Tunics
ca. 1993
Lent by Titi Halle
Photo by Ken Howie
Phoenix Art Museum
Feb. 21-July 5, 2009
Forty ensembles, accessories and rare books, illustrating the seductive influence of the Gothic style on fashion from the 19th century to today. Examples range from Mariano Fortuny’s velvet gowns and John Galliano’s haute couture armor for Christian Dior to current Gothic street style.

Segment of an arched gate (Lion)
ca. 1412-1431
Nanjing Municipal Museum
Saint Louis Art Museum
Feb. 22-May 17, 2009
125+ architectural fragments, archaeological materials, paintings, jewelry, metalwork, lacquerware, textiles, musical instruments and woodblock printing commissioned by, or presented to, China’s Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). The works are drawn from museums in China as well as the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco.

Ernst Ludwig Kirchner
Fränzi in front of Carved Chair
1910
Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza
Neue Galerie
Feb. 26-June 29, 2009
One-hundred-plus paintings by the members of the German "Brücke" movement, the harbingers of Expressionism. Organized by scholar Reinhold Heller, the show brings together works by Fritz Bleyl, Erich Heckel, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Karl Schmidt-Rottluff and others.

Paul Cézanne
The Large Bathers
1906
Philadelphia Museum of Art
Philadelphia Museum of Art
Feb. 26-May 17, 2009
The PMA returns to the Cézanne well with this exhibition of 40 paintings, plus 20 watercolors and drawings, alongside works by contemporary artists, including Ellsworth Kelly, Jasper Johns, Brice Marden and Jeff Wall. Curated by Joseph Rishel, Michael Taylor, Carlos Basualdo and Katherine Sachs.

Hernan Bas
The Blue Line
2005-06
Rubell Family Collection
Brooklyn Museum of Art
Feb. 27-May 24, 2009
Thirty-eight works by the Neo-Goth Miami artist, including a grand-scale video and sculpture installation, Ocean's Symphony, described as Bas’ homage to the myth of the mermaid. With a $40, 218-page catalogue.