BY frieze in Critic's Guides | 05 APR 24

The Best Shows to See in the US This April

From Graham Little’s meditations on beauty to Marie Watt’s expansive material exploration in her first travelling retrospective

BY frieze in Critic's Guides | 05 APR 24

Graham Little | FLAG Foundation, New York | 23 February – 4 May

Graham Little, Untitled (Mountain), 2021, gouache on paper, 37 × 35 cm. Courtesy: the artist and Alison Jacques, London, and dépendance, Brussels; photograph: Michael Brzezinski

There is no formula for beauty, no reliable unit of measure. But there are suggestions of some underlying logic in Graham Little’s Untitled (Sunflower Head) (2022), an austere vanitas of a decaying sunflower blossom, its seed-heavy face puckered and dry, stippled with greening rot. Beside it rests a rodent’s skull and the exposed circuitry of a spent machine, half-hidden under a clean white sheet. The image is lean as a riddle. Does it disclose some secret knowledge of the world’s inner workings, a reminder of the impossibly intricate systems that organize reality? Perhaps some rigid grammar – cold, immovable, elegant – lurks beneath the surface of things. – Christopher Alessandrini 

Elaine Cameron-Weir | Lisson Gallery, New York | 7 March – 13 April

elaine-cameron-weir-pupil-of-couture-4horsemen-hairshirt-SS 2024-apocalypse-collection-1-lisson-gallery-installation
Elaine Cameron-Weir, pupil of couture / 4horsemen hairshirt (SS 2024 apocalypse collection), 2023, leather trench coats, stainless steel, dyed calf leather, studs, 3.9 × 5.9 × 1.3 m. Courtesy: © Elaine Cameron-Weir and Lisson Gallery, New York

The lingering impact of Elaine Cameron-Weir’s narrative mise-en-scènes stems from their many fetishized allusions: the sleek sculptures in ‘A WAY OF LIFE’, her inaugural show at Lisson Gallery, evoke BDSM chambers, apocalyptic raves, holy armouries and designer showrooms. Dark leather and bondage chains serve the artist’s role-play, informing doomsday fantasyscapes that sardonically comment on mass culture while indulgently reenacting its rituals. This bricolage of medieval Christian relics and their cultural derivatives comprises an ideal stage for Cameron-Weir’s religion of subcultural worship. – Macaella Gray

stanley brouwn | The Hammer Museum, Los Angeles | 3 February – 5 May

Within his lifetime, brouwn did not permit photography of the work, in order to focus the visitor’s direct relationship with the work. This fundamental ethic that is at the core of brouwn's practice is honoured in this exhibition. Courtesy: Dia Art Foundation

stanley brouwn, who died in 2017, is among the past century’s most compelling and elusive artists. Despite being a relatively unfamiliar name among the wider public, he has been revered by fellow artists for his conceptual rigour, extreme methodology and playful, dematerialized gestures. He is nearly as known for what we don’t know about him as for what he left behind. He tightly controlled the conditions of his art’s reception, as well as information about his life and work. He objected to reproductions and interpretative texts: no exhibition catalogue, no press release, no images, no public talks. No capital letters in his name. Following the late artist’s wishes, the Hammer Museum refused me a checklist at his eponymous exhibition. – Sarah Lehrer-Graiwer 

Whitney Biennial 2024: Even Better Than the Real Thing | The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York | 20 March – 11 August 

Diane Severin Nguyen, In Her Time (Iris’s Version), 2023–24, film still. Courtesy: the artist and Whitney Museum of American Art, New York

With this year’s Whitney Biennial already having been dismissed by many critics (New Yorker, New York Times, Vulture) as riskless, I felt hard-pressed to agree. It’s an accusation that – for an exhibition which, historically, has been the target of tremendous rebuke and, in recent years, mired by unwelcome, and seemingly never-ending, controversy – feels somewhat pedantic, even tiresome. Yet, criticism with a capital ‘C’ appears to rear its ugly (albeit discerning) head with greater zeal at the Whitney Biennial – the longest-running exhibition dedicated to art in the US – than at any other large-scale exhibition on the North American art calendar. While many may disagree with this observation, to me the scale and severity of the biennial’s media coverage feels disproportionate – especially when considering how much of what is written today falls under the rubric of ‘art writing’ (arguably a euphemism for ‘moderate’ art criticism). – Terence Trouillot

Storywork: The Prints of Marie Watt  | Print Center New York | 25 January – 18 May

Marie Watt, Companion Species (Cosmos), 2017, reclaimed wool blankets, embroidery floss, 24k gold wrapped silk embroidery floss, and thread, 78.7 × 94 cm. Courtesy: © Marie Watt and Print Center New York; photograph: Argenis Apolinario

How do stories influence our sense of place? How do they inscribe meaning upon objects and events? How do they shape culture and identity? Marie Watt’s expansive practice coalesces around these questions, framing stories as intergenerational rituals of reciprocity and foundational elements of our worldview. ‘Storywork: The Prints of Marie Watt’, a retrospective exhibition at Print Center New York, spans over three decades of the artist’s oeuvre and features more than 50 works – including sculptures, textiles, etchings, woodcuts, lithographs and engravings – from the collections of Jordan D. Schnitzer and his family foundation. Interweaving a constellation of motifs and materials with meditations on our sacred ancestral relationship with the living world, ‘Storywork’ illuminates the importance of printmaking in the multimedia matrix of Watt’s visionary practice. – Rebecca Rose Cuomo

Contemporary Art and Culture