DISORDERLY CONDUCT: AMERICAN PAINTING AND SCULPTURE, 1960–1990
(Sep. 21–Feb. 25, Nasher Museum of Art)
New York City is such an unshakable art capital it's easy to forget that, well under a century ago, it wasn't. It was the post-World War II Abstract Expressionist painters—Pollock, de Kooning, Rothko—who first put America on the global art atlas with the energetic abstractions they unleashed. The next four decades of furious innovation enabled by this palate and palette cleanse is the broad focus of Disorderly Conduct, which ranges through minimalist geometries, Pop Art pranks, Yves Klein's New Realism, and beyond, into all the posts, neos, and isms of a culture given to increasing proliferation. The artists include Bruce Conner, Philip Guston, Louisa Chase, Barkley L. Hendricks, Joan Snyder, and David Salle.
INSPIRING BEAUTY: 50 YEARS OF EBONY FASHION FAIR
(Oct. 28–Jan. 21, North Carolina Museum of Art)
With fashion exhibits on deck at the North Carolina Museum of History (The Shape of Fashion, Sep. 22–May 6) and CAM Raleigh (details TBA), it's shaping up to be a stylish season at area museums. Perhaps most smashingly, there's Inspiring Beauty, a fifty-year survey of the Ebony Fashion Fair, a traveling Ebony magazine production that helped redefine concepts of beauty and glamor for African Americans from 1958 until founder Eunice Walker's death in 2009. The exhibit features forty ensembles by designers like Christian Lacroix, Yves Saint Laurent, and Vivienne Westwood, and is accompanied by a robust variety of events, from an embroidery workshop to a runway show.
FLASH OF LIGHT, FOG OF WAR: JAPANESE MILITARY PRINTS, 1894–1905
(Oct. 6–Jan. 7, Ackland Art Museum)
At the turn of the twentieth century, during a period when Japan was at war with China and Russia, the very old technology of ukiyo-e, or woodblock printing, encountered the much newer technologies of long-range ammo, torpedoes, and searchlights. Electric flares in artillery smoke were a new sensory phenomenon that printmakers had to invent new techniques to capture. In Flash of Light, Fog of War, the Ackland displays period prints in which renderings of stark silhouettes and incandescent beams find terrible, spectacular ways to keep up with the speed and brutality they were striving to document.
HEATHER GORDON:AND THEN THE SUN SWALLOWED ME
(Oct. 6–Feb. 4, CAM Raleigh)
"I have this terrifying thought from childhood," Durham artist Heather Gordon writes. "One day, without notice, the sun will become a red giant and, in its death throes, will swell and swallow our planet, and all of us along with it. Alive." That cheering thought forms the backdrop of Gordon's solo show at CAM Raleigh—and, perhaps, sheds light on her perennial fascination with turning personal data into geometric, optical-illusion-like abstractions. As everything hurtles toward extinction—while we, unlike the sun, must carry an awareness of this fact—there is an inherent allure and value in the little human things we can transform into beauty and save. (If you can't wait, Gordon also has a show up at SPECTRE Arts right now.)
Or how about a road trip to New Orleans?
(Nov. 18–Feb. 25, Prospect.4)
It's a bit far for a Third Friday visit, but note that the Nasher's chief curator, Trevor Schoonmaker, is serving as the artistic director of Prospect.4: The Lotus in Spite of the Swamp. The fourth edition of Prospect New Orleans's prestigious international contemporary art triennial, it overlaps with the city's tercentennial celebration. You can count on some Schoonmaker favorites, like Barkley L. Hendricks, being included.