The must-see exhibitions of 2020 — America

The must-see exhibitions of 2020 — America

Gerhard Richter in New York, Van Gogh in Detroit and Yoshitomo Nara in LA — our guide to the must-see exhibitions in America in the coming year

This exhibition (first seen at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam) reveals just how innovative the work of French artist Jean-François Millet (1814-1875) was for his time, as well as its enormous influence on many well-known artists after him, including Vincent van Gogh, Camille Pissarro, Georges Seurat and Salvador Dalí. It includes paintings, drawings and pastels, as well as works by those who saw Millet and his radical painting technique as an inspiration.

Jean-François Millet, The Gleaners, 1857. Musée d’Orsay, Paris (donation subject to usufruct of Mrs. Pommery)
Jean-François Millet, The Gleaners, 1857. Musée d’Orsay, Paris (donation subject to usufruct of Mrs. Pommery)

Don’t miss… Jean-François Millet’s The Gleaners (1857). This large-scale painting, which caused scandal among the upper classes when it was unveiled, sympathetically depicts three peasant women gleaning a field of stray stalks of wheat after the harvest. 

Raphael (1483-1520) was a master painter, draughtsman, architect, archaeologist and poet of the Italian High Renaissance. In celebration of the 500th anniversary of his death, the National Gallery of Art presents an intimate exhibition of 25 prints and drawings.

There will be four drawings on display, as well as a selection of drawings and engravings by Raphael’s closest collaborators and followers, including Giulio Romano, Polidoro da Caravaggio and Perino del Vaga. Together they will illustrate to what extent Raphael shaped the trajectory of Western art during his brief career, which spanned just two decades.

Don’t miss... The Prophets Hosea and Jonah, a detailed representation of the prophets executed in ink and wash in around 1510.

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  • Judd MoMA, New York,
    1 March to 11 July

Donald Judd’s revolutionary approach to form and material changed the language of modern sculpture in mid-century New York. Judd, the first US retrospective of his work in more than 30 years, brings together sculpture, painting, drawing and rarely seen works from across the artist’s career to explore his progressive vision. 

Donald Judd, Untitled, 1991. Enamelled aluminium. 59 x 24 x 65 in (150 x 750 x 165) cm. The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Bequest of Richard S. Zeisler and gift of Abby Aldrich Rockefeller (both by exchange) and gift of Kathy Fuld, Agnes Gund, Patricia Cisneros, Doris Fisher, Mimi Haas, Marie- Josée and Henry R. Kravis, and Emily Spiegel. © 2019 Judd FoundationArtists Rights
Donald Judd, Untitled, 1991. Enamelled aluminium. 59 x 24 x 65 in (150 x 750 x 165) cm. The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Bequest of Richard S. Zeisler and gift of Abby Aldrich Rockefeller (both by exchange) and gift of Kathy Fuld, Agnes Gund, Patricia Cisneros, Doris Fisher, Mimi Haas, Marie- Josée and Henry R. Kravis, and Emily Spiegel. © 2019 Judd Foundation/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photo: John Wronn

Don’t miss... Untitled from 1991, a brilliant example of the geometric, free-standing sculptures with which Judd would become synonymous.

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  • Gerhard Richter: Painting After All The Met Breuer, New York,
    4 March to 5 July

Gerhard Richter (b. 1932) is ‘the most complicated of painters’, the art critic Adrian Searle told Christie’s in 2019. For over half a century, he has been confounding audiences with his transitions between styles and techniques.

This major loan exhibition — the final show at the Met Breuer before it gives up its lease to the Frick — examines his long preoccupation with the painterly modes of naturalism and chromatic abstraction. Central to the display of more than 100 works are two important series, Birkenau (2014) and Cage (2006), both of which will be exhibited in the United States for the first time.

Gerhard Richter, September, 2005. Oil on canvas, 52 x 72 cm. © Gerhard Richter 2019 (0286)
Gerhard Richter, September, 2005. Oil on canvas, 52 x 72 cm. © Gerhard Richter 2019 (0286)

Don’t miss... September (2005), Richter’s bleak but mesmerising response to 9/11.

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  • Yoshitomo Nara LACMA, Los Angeles,
    5 April to 2 August

‘My work is always linked to recognisable punk album covers, but folk music record covers are really important,’ Japanese artist Yoshitomo Nara told the Financial Times in 2014. ‘There was no museum where I grew up so my exposure to art came from the album covers.’

Spanning more than three decades, this major solo show explores the work of the celebrated ‘Superflat’ artist through the lens of one of his primary passions: music. Paintings, drawings, sculpture, ceramics, immersive installations and never-seen-before preparatory sketches will be presented alongside album covers that Nara began collecting as a teenager.

Yoshitomo Nara, I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight, 2017. © Yoshitomo Nara 2017. Photo courtesy of the artist
Yoshitomo Nara, I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight, 2017. © Yoshitomo Nara 2017. Photo courtesy of the artist

Don’t miss... I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight (2017), which  depicts one of Nara’s cute yet mischievous cartoon figures that have earned him a worldwide cult following. 

Born in New York in 1894, Norman Rockwell is best remembered for his images of an idealised America. This exhibition, however, focuses on the 1940s and the artist’s depictions of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s concept of the Four Freedoms — Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Worship, Freedom from Want, and Freedom from Fear — which encouraged Americans to support the war effort and defend public freedom.

Rockwell was among a large group of creatives who took on the challenge of illustrating Roosevelt’s message. The results were depictions of everyday community and domestic life that reinforced the positive message of Americans coming together for the common good. 

Norman Rockwell (1894-1978), Freedom from Fear, 1943. Oil on canvas. 45¾ x 35½. Illustration for The Saturday Evening Post, March 13, 1943. Collection of Norman Rockwell Museum. © SEPS Curtis Licensing, Indianapolis, IN. All rights reserved. www.curtislicensing.com
Norman Rockwell (1894-1978), Freedom from Fear, 1943. Oil on canvas. 45¾ x 35½. Illustration for The Saturday Evening Post, March 13, 1943. Collection of Norman Rockwell Museum. © SEPS: Curtis Licensing, Indianapolis, IN. All rights reserved. www.curtislicensing.com

Don’t miss... Rockwell’s iconic 1961 Golden Rule, which was reimagined as a giant mosaic, and gifted to the United Nations in 1985 on behalf of the United States by then First Lady Nancy Reagan. 

Presented across New York’s splendid Botanical Gardens, this multi-sensory exhibition explores Yayoi Kusama’s lifelong preoccupation with the natural world.

On display will be the artist’s signature mirrored environments, organic forms, colossal polka-dotted sculptures of flora, nature-based paintings and works on paper, as well as a body of new work — to include Kusama’s first immersive greenhouse installation.

Yayoi Kusama, Kusama with Pumpkin, 2010. © Yayoi Kusama. Courtesy of Ota Fine Arts, Tokyo  Singapore  Shanghai; Victoria Miro, London; David Zwirner, New York
Yayoi Kusama, Kusama with Pumpkin, 2010. © Yayoi Kusama. Courtesy of Ota Fine Arts, Tokyo / Singapore / Shanghai; Victoria Miro, London; David Zwirner, New York

Don’t miss...Dancing Pumpkin (2020), a monumental new Kusama sculpture.

The first exhibition dedicated to the introduction and early reception of Van Gogh’s work in America brings together around 65 paintings and works on paper from collections around the world.

The show will examine the influence of early promoters of modernism in the United States, including dealers, collectors, the artist’s family and public institutions, to reveal their role in Van Gogh’s popularity and success in America.

Vincent van Gogh (Dutch, 1853-1890). The Bedroom, 1889. Oil on canvas. 29 x 36? in (73.6 x 35.7 cm). The Art Institute of Chicago, Helen Birch Bartlett Memorial Collection, 1926.417

Vincent van Gogh (Dutch, 1853-1890). The Bedroom, 1889. Oil on canvas. 29 x 36? in (73.6 x 35.7 cm). The Art Institute of Chicago, Helen Birch Bartlett Memorial Collection, 1926.417

Don’t miss…The Bedroom, 1889, one of three paintings by Van Gogh depicting his bedroom at 2, Place Lamartine in Arles.

Born in 1925 in Chicago, Joan Mitchell is widely regarded as a key figure of the American Abstract Expressionist movement. This major retrospective, organised in collaboration with the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, presents paintings, drawings and prints from across Mitchell’s career, exploring the full arc of her creative process.

Hanging alongside her masterworks based on landscape imagery and flowers, including Mon Paysage (1967) and No Rain (1976), will be rarely seen small paintings, pastels and works on paper. For the occasion, The Joan Mitchell Foundation Archives will loan a selection of the artists’s sketchbooks and archival photographs.

Joan Mitchell, No Rain, 1976. Collection of The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). © Estate of Joan Mitchell
Joan Mitchell, No Rain, 1976. Collection of The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). © Estate of Joan Mitchell

Don’t miss… Bracket (1989), a monumental three-panel painting that exemplifies Mitchell’s late painterly aesthetic.

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Over the past 65 years, American artist Jasper Johns has developed a reputation as an exceptional draughtsman and printmaker, his work continually re-examining the motifs he first explored in the 1950s.

In a remarkable collaboration, the Whitney and the Philadelphia Museum of Art will stage a major retrospective of Johns’ career simultaneously across the two museums. A visit to one museum or the other will offer a chronological survey, while a visit to both will offer a comprehensive insight into the phases and masterworks of his creative trajectory.

Jasper Johns (b. 1930), Three Flags, 1958. Encaustic on canvas. 30? × 45½ × 4? in (77.8 × 115.6 × 11.7 cm). Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; purchased with funds from the Gilman Foundation, Inc., The Lauder Foundation, A. Alfred Taubman, Laura-Lee Whittier Woods, Howard Lipman, and Ed Downe in honour of the Museum’s 50th Anniversary 80.32. Art ©
Jasper Johns (b. 1930), Three Flags, 1958. Encaustic on canvas. 30? × 45½ × 4? in (77.8 × 115.6 × 11.7 cm). Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; purchased with funds from the Gilman Foundation, Inc., The Lauder Foundation, A. Alfred Taubman, Laura-Lee Whittier Woods, Howard Lipman, and Ed Downe in honour of the Museum’s 50th Anniversary 80.32. Art © Jasper Johns/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY.

Don’t miss...Three Flags (1958), one of Johns’s most celebrated representations of his signature motif: the American flag.

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