Flavorpill’s 10 Most Anticipated Summer Art Exhibits

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With summer just around the corner, it’s time to take a trip. This season promises take you to heaven and hell with epic video projections by Marco Brambilla and back into your childhood with a Jim Henson retrospective. Geographical proximity providing, it’s going to be a hot one. From Magritte’s dirty little secrets to the curatorial efforts of John Waters, here are some of the exhibits we’re most looking forward to later this summer and a few freshly opened shows to hold us over.

Santa Monica Museum of Art: Marco Brambilla: The Dark Lining May 21 – August 20, 2011

Just watch Marco Brambilla’s video work Civilization! It’s a Dante’s Inferno-inspired, layered loop — a spiritual journey from hell to heaven comprised of footage from hundreds of genre films in a pulsating collage. Now imagine something this epic in 3D. Brambilla premieres his new, 3D work Evolution at his first solo exhibition at the Santa Monica Museum of Art this summer. Seven of his major works will be exhibited, including Syncthree-channel video of movie fight scenes, sex scenes, and theater audiences, densely edited to fire at 12 shots per second — and Cathedral, with its kaleidoscopic imagery recently “borrowed” by Lady Gaga. Don’t feel too bad about that last part. A juggernaut in his own right, Brambilla directed the video for Kanye West’s “Power.”

ICP: Elliott Erwitt: Personal Best May 20 – August 28, 2011

One of Magnum’s legends picks his best 100! Photographer and filmmaker Elliott Erwitt will exhibit his favorite highlights of a prolific, 60-year career — from portraits of Marilyn Monroe, Jackie O, Che Guevara, and Jack Kerouac, to documentation of injustice in the Jim Crow South to decisive moments on the streets of New York City. Come see ICP’s retrospective of a whimsical humanist who made his own rules — and defined a genre.

Tate Modern: Taryn Simon: A Living Man Declared Dead and Other Chapters May 25 – November 6, 2011

Saddam Hussein’s son’s body double. A living Indian man declared dead in official records. Feuding families in Brazil. Bosnian genocide victims. A cult of past-life reenactors in Lebanon. Rabbits. American photographer Taryn Simon has chronicled 18 family bloodlines, each with a unique story, presented in grids of portraits and documents. With her arresting images — like this one of a leprous corpse floating in the Ganges — and captivating narratives, this 36-year-old is on her way to becoming one of today’s most important conceptual photographers, well deserving of a show at Tate Modern.

MAD: Otherworldly: Optical Delusions and Small Realities June 7 – September 18, 2011

Step into alternative worlds without virtual reality at the Museum of Art and Design this summer. The group show will highlight work by artists who create imaginary, small-scale places and stage surreal scenes in the physical world in dioramas, models, photos, videos, site-specific installations and snow globes. There are four themes: “Apocalyptic Archeology” of urban, post-industrial nightmarish landscapes; angsty and mysterious “Dreams and Memories”; subversively satirical “Voyeur/Provocateur”; and “Unnatural Nature,” which includes Kim Keever’s meticulously photographed models of windy woods and hazy mountains and Patrick Jacob’s peep holes into infinite dandelion fields.

MoMA: Boris Mikhailov: Case History May 26 – September 5, 2011

Ukrainian-born photographer Boris Mikhailov’s seminal Case History series documents homeless drunks and glue-sniffing orphans in the industrial city of Kharkov between 1997 and 1998. These victims of dire living conditions and social fallout after the collapse of Soviet Union are fully revealed — goiters and all — but not exploited, because the photographer has never tried to hide that his subjects posed for money. This was reality, cast in a harsh light, set in a poetic frame. Case History’s in-depth, first-time US exhibition at the MoMA will feature life-size color photographs.

Tate Liverpool: René Magritte: The Pleasure Principle June 24 – October 16, 2011

This major exhibit of the Belgian surrealist champ goes a bit beyond buttoned-up bowler hats and into risqué territory. Along with his well-known masterpieces and early commercial work, the collection will also focus on Magritte’s sexy side. There’s even a separate room planned for showing six very rare and explicit drawings — “a tiny man walking towards a giant vagina,” a flying, winged phallus, and other illustrations for a 1940s erotic novella and a story by Marquis de Sade. Naughty!

The Museum of the Moving Image: Jim Henson’s Fantastic World July 16, 2011 – January 16, 2012

The Museum of the Moving Image will host a traveling Jim Henson career retrospective this summer, complete with 120 artifacts, props, animations, storyboards, Henson’s pre-Bert-and-Ernie experimental films, and all your inner-child-beloved Muppet ephemera, mahna mahna. Complementing the exhibit is a series of programs, talks, performances, appearances by family and collaborators, and a 25th anniversary 35mm screening of Labyrinth with “special guests.” Ooh.

The Morgan Library and Museum: Lists: To-dos, Illustrated Inventories, Collected Thoughts, and Other Artists’ Enumerations from the Smithsonian’s Archives of American Art June 3 – October 2, 2011

The Smithsonian Archive’s treasure trove of artists’ lists makes its way to NYC this summer. From Picasso’s scribbled, itemized instructions for his 1913 Armory show to Eero Saarinen’s list of his wife’s “good qualities” to the meticulous sketch studies of ducks from naturist Benson Bond Moore — come see these revealing spectacles in person, where aesthetics and OCD meet.

MoMA PS1: Ryan Trecartin: Any Ever June 19 – September 3, 2011

The New York premiere of Ryan Trecartin’s 2007 to 2010 body of video work will push the boundaries of day-glo queer aesthetics, glitchy digital dandyism, and physical tolerance. The artist’s notoriously erratic mash-up will bombard visitors’ senses for four hours in separate, networked screening rooms. This collaboration with Lizzie Fitch stars a mad cast of friends, artists, and child actors. It’s kind of like Warhol’s Factory on Ritalin fed through a space-time continuum shredder and sprinkled with glitter.

Walker Art Center: Absentee Landlord Curated by John Waters June 11, 2011 – March 4, 2012

John Waters is going to give the museum-going experience an “intervention.” Walker Art Center in Minneapolis is letting the iconic filmmaker and culture wrangler curate an exhibit. As the new “tyrannical landlord,” he’ll hand-pick 80 works. Cindy Sherman and John Currin will become forced “roommates.” Burning questions will be answered, like “Can artwork sexually attract each other? Does minimalism make pop horny?” Who knows what will happen?