Three to see

Three exhibitions to see in New York and London this weekend

From David Goldblatt's images of apartheid-era South Africa to Sophie Taeuber-Arp's Swiss abstraction

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David Goldblatt, Portrait photographer and client, Braamfontein (3_1538, 3_1539), 1955. Courtesy of Goodman Gallery

Peter Hujar: Cruising Utopia at Pace Gallery in New York explores more than anything the photographer’s unparalleled ability to depict our contradictory desires and impulses, mapping pleasure’s incredible proximity to pain, and vice versa. This is seen most famously in visceral works like Jay and Fernando (Two Men in Leather Kissing) (around 1966) and Orgasmic Man (1969), in which the agonizing contortions of a young man’s face are revealed by the title to be stemming not from anguish but from sexual climax. The show also hosts shots of young men in the piers of New York’s pre-gentrified westsides—mostly shot in the brief window of time post-Stonewall and pre-AIDS—as well as wonderfully extravagant nightclub performers. A suite of portraits of other minds and artists that ran in Hujar’s circle, including Paul Thek, David Wojnarowicz, Greer Lankton, Susan Sontag and Amiri Baraka, is also present; most notable among them is an image of Fran Lebowitz in her early 20’s, looking at the camera as she lays in bed before a patterned wallpaper so of-it’s-era that it recalls the carpet patterns of the Overlook Hotel.

David Goldblatt was one of South Africa's leading documentarians of the apartheid era, capturing in stark detail the divisions on both sides of the racial divide and the horror of life under oppression for the country’s black population. A major solo show, David Goldblatt: Johannesburg 1948-2018, at London’s Goodman Gallery (until 15 September) includes images of Johannesburg taken between 1948 and 2018, spanning Goldblatt’s life in the capital. The photographer’s chronicle of the South African city reflects a history riven by social and racial inequality but Goldblatt captures the humanity of Soweto—a township to the south west created in the 1930s to keep blacks away from white suburbs—in a 1972 photographic essay. Under Goldblatt’s gaze, its inhabitants are seen at sports and religious events, gathering at home and playing outside. The exhibition also throws light on the Market Photography Workshop in Johannesburg, the further education project in visual literacy founded by Goldblatt in 1989 which helped and empowered black students disadvantaged by apartheid. Images by Jabulani Dhlamini, a graduate of the workshop, are also on display.

The Tate announced this week that it will be hosting the first major UK exhibition on the Swiss artist Sophie Taeuber-Arp in 2021. The exhibition is being organised with New York’s Museum of Modern Art where it is due to open in the autumn before travelling to the Kunstmuseum Basel and then London. But if you cannot wait until then, MoMA teamed up with Google Arts and Culture to create a handy primer for those who are new to her work. It is not a flashy, over engineered virtual exhibition around an empty gallery but instead a somewhat old-fashioned slide show of text, works, archival photographs and some installation shots. The online show tells the story of Taeuber-Arp's life and career through her performances at the Cabaret Voltaire in Zurich, collaborations with her husband Jean Arp, her transition to interior design and architecture, and finally her later abstract compositions, before her untimely death from accidental gas poisoning.