Mark your calendars and prep your Instagrams: a trifecta of not-to-be-missed shows hits the District this Fall.
A riot of in-your-face work makes its way to DC this fall, including Shinique Smith’s Menagerie at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.
On September 30, after a two-year, $60-million closure, the National Gallery of Art’s angular East Building (Constitution Ave. NW and Sixth St. NW, 202-737-4215) finally reopened to the public. Although the beloved exterior, designed by I.M. Pei, remains unchanged, the refreshed interiors include 12,250 square feet of exhibition space complete with a rooftop sculpture garden, where Katharina Fritsch’s 15-foot cobalt cockerel Hahn/Cock keeps watch over Pennsylvania Avenue.
While the reopening is cause for celebration, the West Building is set to make some joyful noise of its own with “Stuart Davis: In Full Swing” (November 20, 2016 through March 5, 2017). The show unites 100 of Davis’s jazz-inspired paintings, the loose, rhythmic style of which challenged the severity of mid-century Abstract Expressionism. Born in Philadelphia in 1892, Davis so itched to paint that he ditched high school for the neon, nightclubs, and nonstop movement of the Big Apple. His signatures—text, commercial objects, and bold colors—later fueled Pop artists, including Andy Warhol and Jasper Johns.
The Renwick Gallery (Pennsylvania Ave. NW and 17th St. NW, 202-633-7970), the Smithsonian Institution’s museum of American craft, also reopened recently, after a two-year renovation, with “Wonder,” an Instagrammer’s paradise of nine different installations. This season, camera-phone obsessives will be intrigued by “Vision and Revisions: Renwick Invitational 2016” (September 9, 2016 through January 8, 2017). The gallery’s seventh biennial unites four young artists who consider themes of decay using materials ranging from bone to ceramics and techniques as diverse as metal-smithing and 3-D printing. Steven Young Lee’s collapsing porcelains, especially, are ready for “like” after “like.”
A few blocks away at the National Museum of Women in the Arts (1250 New York Ave. NW, 202-783-5000), “No Man’s Land” (September 30, 2016 through January 8, 2017) is a provocative assembly from the Miami-based Rubell Family Collection. Each of the large-scale paintings and sculptures—by 37 artists from 15 countries, including Carrie Mae Weems and Lisa Yuskavage—considers the female form. Explains NMWA Associate Curator Virginia Treanor: “The title intentionally plays upon the traditional definition of the term as a physical tract of land controlled by no ‘man,’ while at the same time highlighting the inherently gendered vocabulary of the English language.” We dare you to look away.