From ancient Iranian ceramics to the latest interactive light installations, the fall exhibit season in DC stands out for its broad diversity, if not for any single blockbuster show.
Highlights include some of the oldest objects to be exhibited this fall — pots made in Iran 7,000 years ago in the shape of animals. These are on view at the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery in the recently opened Shaping Clay in Ancient Iran, which also features jars and bowls decorated with animal figures that span five millennia in the country’s history.
One of the more intriguing exhibits on the horizon is slated to open Nov. 1 at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden. Titled Rafael Lozano-Hemmer: Pulse, this installation will fill the entire second floor of the museum with works tied to the visitors’ heartbeats, which will be transmuted into a wide variety of pulsing displays.
African-American folk artist Bill Traylor, who was born into slavery circa 1853, has a huge show of 155 paintings and drawings at the Smithsonian American Art Museum that began Sept. 28. Traylor, who died in 1946, was in his late 80s when he first took up a brush and pencil to document the historic events he’d witnessed during his lifetime. These span the Civil War, Emancipation, Reconstruction, Jim Crow segregation and the Great Migration from the South to the North.
On Sept. 29, the Sackler Gallery opened two shows devoted to Japanese photography and printmaking in the series Japan Modern, which illustrates how closely the two types of art are intertwined. Beginning Oct. 13, Norwegian art will be spotlighted at the Phillips Collection in Nordic Impressions, a survey of Nordic art covering 200 years and 53 artists.
The National Gallery of Art will present two shows devoted to photography and printmaking. One, opening Oct. 14, will highlight the chiaroscuro woodcut — a little-known printmaking technique popular in the Renaissance — and present works that interpret old masters like Titian, Parmigianino and Raphael. The other, which opens Nov. 4, will present photographs from the early, formative decade of Gordon Parks’ career, from 1940 to 1950.
Other intriguing shows on the radar include the Renwick Gallery‘s Disrupting Craft: Renwick Invitational 2018, which surveys the ways four craft artists are upending traditional techniques. And for fans of Baltimore’s storied architecture, the National Building Museum exhibit Flickering Treasures: Rediscovering Baltimore’s Forgotten Movie Theaters promises a trip down memory lane with photographs by Baltimore Sun photojournalist Amy Davis.
Finding a Path — Emilie Brzezinski and Dalya Luttwak: A Conversation. Brzezinski’s massive, rough-hewn, treelike wooden sculptures are paired with Luttwak’s colorful, rootlike metal sculptures in this site-specific installation, which represents a conversation between the two artists about finding a path through life. American University Museum through Dec. 16.
Jim Sanborn — Without Provenance: The Making of Contemporary Antiquity. Installation artist Sanborn simulates an antiquities auction, featuring reproductions of ancient Khmer sculptures, in this critique of the contemporary art market and its trade in fakes and stolen works. American University Museum through Dec. 16.
Intersections: Richard Tuttle — It Seems Like It’s Going to Be. An elaborate installation that combines a 41-verse poem by American artist Tuttle (b. 1941) with the artwork he created for each verse, alongside pieces from the Phillips Collection. Phillips Collection through Dec. 30.
Corot: Women. Nineteenth-century French landscape master Camille Corot also painted ladies, though not as famously as he painted the countryside. Forty-five of his figure paintings of women are on view, including costumed figures, nudes and allegorical scenes. National Gallery of Art West Building through Dec. 31.
Rachel Whiteread. This survey of British sculptor Whiteread (b. 1963) brings together some 100 objects from her 30-year career, including drawings, photographs, large sculptures, archival and documentary materials, and several new works on view for the first time. National Gallery of Art East Building through Jan. 13.
Japan Modern: Prints in the Age of Photography. This exhibit explores the reactions of Japanese printmakers to the challenges of modernity. Arthur M. Sackler Gallery through Jan. 21.
Japan Modern: Photography From the Gloria Katz and Willard Huyck Collection. Celebrating a recent acquisition by the Freer and Sackler galleries, the exhibit presents iconic Japanese photographs from the 1920s to the 1980s. Arthur M. Sackler Gallery through Jan. 21.
Sean Scully: Landline. Irish artist Scully’s Landline series of works is traced through a variety of media, with nearly 40 oil paintings, pastels, watercolors and photographs from the past two decades, along with layered aluminum sculptures that highlight the structure of his paintings. Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden through Feb. 3.
Between Worlds: The Art of Bill Traylor. Featured are 155 paintings and drawings by Traylor (circa 1853-1946), an African American folk artist born into slavery in Alabama. His works all date from late in life, when he began visually documenting the changes he’d witnessed, as America moved from the Civil War to Emancipation, Reconstruction, Jim Crow segregation and the Great Migration. Smithsonian American Art Museum through March 17.
Dawoud Bey: The Birmingham Project. Four large-scale photographs and a video from Bey’s series The Birmingham Project pay tribute to the victims of the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing 55 years ago in Birmingham, Ala. National Gallery of Art West Building through March 24.
Shaping Clay in Ancient Iran. An exhibit of animal-shaped vessels, as well as jars and bowls decorated with animal figures, from Iran’s Chalcolithic period (5200 BCE–3400 BCE) to its Parthian period (250 BCE–225 CE). Arthur M. Sackler Gallery through September 2019.
13 — Nordic Impressions. A survey of Nordic art spanning nearly 200 years and presenting 53 artists from Denmark, Iceland, Finland, Norway and Sweden, as well as the self-governing islands of Åland, Faroe and Greenland. Featured artists include Per Kirkeby, Harriet Backer, Outi Piesky, Nils Dardel and many others. Phillips Collection through Jan. 13.
14 — The Chiaroscuro Woodcut in Renaissance Italy. Chiaroscuro woodcuts, little-known color prints popular in 16th-century Italy, are highlighted in works that interpret old masters like Raphael, Parmigianino and Titian. National Gallery of Art West Building through Jan. 20.
24 — Good as Gold: Fashioning Senegalese Women. An exhibit about the production, display and circulation of gold jewelry in Senegal, presented to celebrate a recent acquisition by the National Museum of African Art. National Museum of African Art through Sept. 29, 2019.
1 — Rafael Lozano-Hemmer: Pulse. Three major installations from Lozano-Hemmer’s Pulse series and six public-art documentaries come together for the first time, filling the entire second floor with immersive environments tied to the visitor’s own heartbeat. The first of the installation’s three sections, called “Pulse,” combines visitors’ fingerprints and heartbeats in a pulsing floor-to-ceiling display. The second section, titled “Pulse Tank,” transmutes heartbeats into illuminated ripples on water and reflects their ever-changing patterns off the walls. “Pulse Room,” the last section, turns heartbeats into pulsing strings of lights. Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden through April 28.
4 — Gordon Parks: The New Tide, Early Works 1940-1950. For the first time, the formative decade of Parks’ 60-year career is the focus of an exhibit, which includes 150 photographs and ephemeral objects like magazines, books, letters, family photos and other objects from the life of the iconic American photographer. National Gallery of Art West Building through Feb. 18.
4 — Eye to I: Self-Portraits from 1900 to Today. Drawn from the National Portrait Gallery’s extensive collection, the exhibit explores how American artists have chosen to portray themselves. National Portrait Gallery through Aug. 18.
8 — Charline von Heyl: Snake Eyes. The largest U.S. museum survey yet of paintings by the German-born von Heyl, who works in both New York and Marfa, Texas, and whose visceral works upend conventional ideas about composition, beauty, form, narrative and subjectivity. Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden through Feb. 24.
9 — Disrupting Craft: Renwick Invitational 2018. Highlights the work of Tanya Aguiñiga, Sharif Bey, Dustin Farnsworth and Stephanie Syjuco, four artists who challenge the conventional definitions of craft by imbuing it with emotional purpose, inclusiveness and activism. Renwick Gallery through May 5.
10 — Rodarte. The American luxury label Rodarte is profiled through examples from pivotal collections, as well as accessories, runway videos and video shorts. National Museum of Women in the Arts through Feb. 10.
17 — Flickering Treasures: Rediscovering Baltimore’s Forgotten Movie Theaters. This survey of Baltimore’s illustrious movie-going from 1896 to the present features photography by Baltimore Sun photojournalist Amy Davis, along with oral histories and architectural fragments. National Building Museum through Oct. 14, 2019.
7 — Ambreen Butt — Mark My Words. An exhibit of works on paper by Pakistani-American artist Butt, who combines her training in traditional Persian miniature painting with contemporary political subject matter. National Museum of Women in the Arts through April 14.
14 — Portraits of the World: Korea. Features wood-assemblage portraits by Chinese-born Korean artist Yun Suk Nam, a pioneering feminist who uses portraiture to gain insights into the lives of women, including well-known 20th-century American artists such as Louise Bourgeois and Louise Nevelson. National Portrait Gallery through Nov. 17, 2019.