Three to see

Three exhibitions to see in New York this weekend

From long-hidden sculptures to a Land Art pioneer’s early cogitations


Jack Whitten, The Afro American Thunderbolt, 1983-84 Metropolitan Museum of Art/Met Breuer

Odyssey: Jack Whitten Sculpture 1963-2017 at the Met Breuer (until 2 December) unveils 40 previously unknown sculptures that the late African American artist, best known as an abstract painter, created from carved wood and local materials sourced around New York and Crete, where he spent his summers. More than 15 works from the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s permanent collection of African, Mycenaean, Minoan, Cycladic and American collections are juxtaposed with Whitten’s sculptures, highlighting historical influences. The exhibition, which spans three galleries, also features personal photographs and 18 paintings, including the eight works in Whitten’s Black Monolith series honouring African American figures like Ralph Ellison and Maya Angelou.

Eclipsed for decades by her male counterparts in the Land Art movement, Nancy Holt is having a moment. Last March, the Dia Art Foundation acquired Sun Tunnels (1973-76), her visionary art project in the Utah desert, and now (15 September–16 February) it is exhibiting two room-size installations in its Chelsea space that helped lay the groundwork for that mind-bending creation. Working from plans, it has recreated Holt’s Holes of Light (1973) and Mirrors of Light (1974), in which projected light creates an interplay of reflection and shadow. As light refracts through the spaces, you might pause to meditate on the very nature of perception.

The group exhibition Visual Language at Faction Art Projects (14 September–6 October) presents a series of text-based works by more than 10 contemporary artists and art collectives. Among the highlights is Jenny Holzer’s Inflammatory Wall, a celebrated series of rapturous essays the artist produced from 1979-1982 that critiques power structures. The show also features works by Wayne White, Betty Tompkins, Ramsey Dau, Ed Ruscha and the Guerrilla Girls, including a series of posters by that feminist art collective that deal with sexual harassment in the art world and a lack of diversity in museums. The show is running simultaneously in Los Angeles at Subliminal Projects, where it opened last week.