Get the best of CF straight to your inbox.

Subscribe, sit back, and let your mind travel.

Arts + Lifestyle

An Art Lover's Guide To The USA This Spring

Fashion photographers exploring the provocative, a new modern art gallery in Los Angeles, a new way of discussing figurative painting, and contemporary photography as resilience and revolution each define an exuberant spring of art in the USA.

From rare photographs of David Hockney and one-of-a-kind garments by McQueen to a contemporary photographer – Nona Faustine – reconfiguring the power of New York’s streets, fashion is made transformative and photographs become new statuses of power in these must-see exhibitions. Here, Citizen Femme takes you from New York to Illinois and back with our art lover’s guide to the USA this spring.

Susan Wood, College Roommates, 1963

Susan Wood: In Time, Laughlin Gallery, Illinois

Laughlin Gallery, the creative hub of Illinois’ North Shore, is spotlighting internationally published photographer and journalist Susan Wood who graced the pages of Vogue, Life, People, New York, and Look on a weekly basis across the 1970s and 80s. Featuring twenty photographs shot between 1960 to 1984, these images take us back to the celebrity-crazed and creative era of the explosive decades, where art was uncensored and political movements rife. There is no shortage of famous names and faces in these photographs which feature the likes of Yoko Ono and John Lennon, Gloria Steinem, and Diane Von Furstenburg, each captured at the height of their careers. Yet what makes these photographs so special is that they are all shot outside of stagnant studios and on location instead, each with a candid and unsuspecting feeling. From Joan Van Ark at the cinema to Martha Stewart gardening and David Hockney by a pool, these photographs are more than profiles but rather snapshots of culture and artistic moments in time. However, Susan Wood also showed interest in the everyday relationships and lifestyles of ordinary women in America, especially in her image College Roommates.  Additionally, across her career, Wood displayed a dedicated advocation for women’s rights and social equality across the country as a founding member of the Women’s Forum and used photography and reportage as a means to express this.

Vivien Maier, Self Portrait, New York 1954 © Estate of Vivian Maier, Courtesy of Maloof Collection and Howard Greenberg Gallery, NY

Vivian Maier: Unseen Work, Fotografiska, New York City, New York

While Vivian Maier shot her photographs from the 1950s and 1990s, her work is still largely considered as new in the art industry. This is because her photographs remained undiscovered until after her death in the early 2000s when at a blind auction in Chicago, artist and art collector John Maloof won a box of her work while he was researching for his book about architecture in Chicago. Fast-forward just over a decade later and the New York City-born street photographer has graced exhibitions in Paris, Australia, Munich, and now New York‘s space for modern photography: Fotografiska. Fashioned by approximately 230 film works from sepia, black and white, colour – as well as special and rare audio recordings – Unseen Works is a deep dive into Maier’s extensive archive of humorous and complex portraits. These images unveil deep socio-political examination felt street-level by the people, often from working-class neighbourhoods of New York City, across pivotal decades of change, creativity, and strife. Also featured, are Maier’s idiosyncratic mirror self-portraits taken in shop windows and fly-tipped mirrors around the city, adding a quirky flourish to her portfolio. The exhibition is the first, large-scale presentation of Maier’s work in her hometown New York City, making it an unmissable one for all photography-fanatics.

Ellen von Unwerth Intermission: Linda Evangelista and Christy Turlington, Cannes, 1990

Ellen von Unwerth: The Provocateur, Staley Wise Gallery, New York City, New York

Flamboyant, risqué, over the top, and unafraid define the editorial and advertorial work of German fashion photographer Ellen von Unwerth, whose images both liberate and tease all at once.  Although this is Ellen von Unwerth’s fifth solo exhibition at Staley-Wise Gallery (meaning the curators know a thing or two about the pioneering artist), The Provocateur showcases several never before seen photographs of the celebrity clientele von Unwerth is known to frequent and flirtily capture. Eroticism manifests in many forms here, not just through lust but through fantasy with vibrant colours and plenty of plumage. The images are a playful, colourful side to an otherwise more rigid and poised fashion industry.

Gordon Parks Self-Portrait, 1941 National Gallery of Art, Washington, Purchased as the Gift of Alan and Marsha Paller, Laura Arrillaga-Andreessen and Marc Andreessen via the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, Raj and Indra Nooyi, Mitchell P. Rales, David M. Rubenstein, and Darren Walker in honor of Sharon Percy Rockefeller

Gordon Parks: Camera Portraits From The Corcoran Collection, National Gallery Of Art, Washington D.C.

“I was convinced of the power of a good picture” – Gordon Parks

Gordon Parks pinpoints spotting the photographic documentation of the Great Depression in magazines, left on seats by passengers while working as a waiter on the North Coast Limited train, as the beginning of his photographic career. This new documentation of socio-economic hardship and the underrepresented communities often bearing the worst of these dire conditions gave voice to many working-class families and people. Continuing this pertinent dialogue, the self-taught photographer captured the poverty, violence, and hardship that rocked many during this time. However, each of Parks’ photographs bears a certain feeling of resilience and personality whether of a family living in public housing or portrait of Harlem Renaissance poet Langston Hughes, and therefore elicit a wider narrative around the singular moment in time found within the frame. As a result, Parks’ photo essays were found and read in Life, Ebony, Vogue, Glamour, and many more, documenting specific issues and social conditions to a wide-ranging readership. This progressed into images of Duke Ellington, Malcom X, and Muhammad Ali, some of which are the most creative and refined portraits of these public figures to date. Washington D.C.’s National Gallery of Art showcases Gordon Parks’ storytelling over the expanse of his career and the new photographic styles he brought with it.

Lucian Freud and Francis Bacon in Bacon's studio 1953 Photo Dan Farson

Francis Bacon and Lucian Freud: Conversations, Marlborough Gallery, New York City, New York

Two figurative artists from the 20th century meet at Marlborough Gallery in New York’s creative Chelsea borough this spring with this exhibition which hangs core paintings and sketches by each of the artists to place their similar inspirations and styles, yet often very different approaches, in conversation. Both painters take a figurative stance on traditional portraiture to paint subjects in a grotesque and often visually-impaired manner. This abstraction sought to showcase elements of the human psyche instead. Prioritising this interiority over exterior identity, Freud encouraged Bacon to look inwards at the psychology of a subject, while Bacon inspired Freud to break down traditions in canvas portraiture. At once fellow artists as well as opposing critics to one another, the constant creative dialogues between Lucian Freud and Francis Bacon encouraged both artists to become the figures in the art cannon they are known to be today.

Joel Meyerowitz, “Camel Coats," New York City, 1975 Archival pigment print; printed 2024, 30 x 40 inches © Joel Meyerowitz, Courtesy of Howard Greenberg Gallery, New York

Joel Meyerowitz: Conversations, Howard Greenberg Gallery, New York City, New York

Sixty years of Joel Meyerowitz’s images arrive at the Howard Greenberg Gallery this spring, each chosen by the artist, to celebrate the street photographer’s comical and sharp snapshots of America’s quotidian. Meyerowitz is especially known for his jovial use of colour, depicting both languid and fleeting moments from sun drenched evenings in Cape Cod to New York City‘s bustling, working streets in the 1970s. In this exhibition, the images are grouped by Meyerowitz himself to encourage the viewer to draw similarities between the colours, textures, and subtle thematic relationships in his shots, whether city-based profiles or countryside landscapes.  There is a certain vibrance and energy to each of his shots, from the cheeky and often off-centred, unconventional vantage points and framing, now hung ready to be enjoyed in New York’s photographic-focused Howard Greenberg Gallery.

Ann Ray. Day One, 1997. Archival gelatine silver print from original negatives; 11 6/8 x 15 6/8 in. Courtesy of Barrett Barrera Projects

Lee Alexander McQueen & Ann Ray: Rendez-Vous, Frist Art Museum, Nashville, Tennesse

In this multi-mediary exhibition, fashion garments designed by the iconic British designer Lee Alexander McQueen converse with French photographer Ann Ray to bring an all-encompassing view of the designer’s craftsmanship, mind, inspiration, and methodology. For a designer who approached storytelling sartorially, Ann Ray’s photographic profiles of Alexander Lee McQueen at work are unique, visual storytellings of fashion’s storyteller. The exhibition is comprised of 60 dresses and 65 photographs (hand-selected by Ann Ray herself) forming a snapshot of the creative duo’s 13 year work relationship. Across this period, Ann Ray shot 43 collections of McQueen’s designs, spanning ready-to-wear, haute couture, and one-of-a-kind pieces. The dynamic relationship between the two manifests here in striking imagery divided into five sections of McQueen’s garments paired with twelve thematically-organised photographic sections.

The exhibition is accompanied by a series of events at the museum. On the evening of Thursday, May 30, Ann Ray, organising curator Kelly Peck, and Frist Art Museum director Seth Feman will give a free opening talk in the auditorium. Then opening night of the exhibition, Friday, May 31, will start the fashion extravagance with a Frist Friday party event.

The Nicholas Brothers in a scene from Stormy Weather (1943), from left, Fayard Nicholas and Harold Nicholas. Photographic print, gelatin silver. Courtesy Margaret Herrick Library. ©Twentieth Century Fox.

Regeneration: Black Cinema 1898 - 1971, Detroit Institute Of Arts, Michigan

Detroit’s Institute of Art gallery is remembering and celebrating the strong legacy of African American cinema-stars that graced screens from the golden age of cinema through to the Civil Rights Movement and beyond.  This exhibition recovers historical photographs, costumes, props, posters, from archives as well as artworks by Glenn Ligon, Gary Simmons, and Kars Walker including ephemera like homemovies reproduced from restored film rolls. It revives lost or forgotten films by reintroducing them to our modern, cinephile audience. From cinema classics to the lesser known, the exhibition pinpoints pivotal moments in cinematic history, where Black artists, creatives, and filmmakers changed the global course of cinema forever.

Faustine, They Tagged The Land....Tweed Court House, NYC

Nona Faustine: White Shoes, Brooklyn Museum, New York City, New York

The first exhibition ever of the artist’s complete photographic series, the Brooklyn Museum welcomes Nona Faustine: White Shoes. Brooklyn born, these striking images present forty self-portraits taken across New York and Long Island, Nona Faustine’s home turf, with the artist wearing white heels or “Church Lady” shoes, a reference to colonial ownership and assimilation. As well as personal, these spots are culturally significant too, each places historically involved in the slave trade, that therefore bear the pain and resilience of these eras. “White Shoes captures the historical amnesia of New York City, a city much like the rest of the country that has not fully reckoned with its past”, says photographer of the eponymous exhibition. “I am a conduit traveling through space and time in solidarity with those people whose names and memories have been lost but are embedded in the land.”

György Kepes. Juliet with Peacock Feather, 1937–38. Maurice D. Galleher Endowment.

Foreign Exchange: Photography Between Chicago, Japan, And Germany, Art Institute Of Chicago, Illinois

Art Institute of Chicago focalises its lens on the disillusioned mood of post World War Chicago, Japan, and Germany with its new exhibition Foreign Exchange: Photography between Chicago, Japan, and Germany 1920-1960. With the fracture of these post war societies – although each manifested in a different way – a singular new mode of photography was born that sought to find answers and solutions to the chaos and the unknown. This style is often associated with The Bauhaus (a German art school from the 1920s-30s know for stripped back, abstract and geometric composition) and privileges sharp focal points juxtaposed with multiple exposures, and unusual angles. The overall effect are ambiguous portraits and landscape shots, each with its own sultry mood. The exhibition explores the inauguration of this style into contemporary photographs used by the likes of Shoji Osato in the sepia-toned Chicago, 1926, Heart in Motion – Shadow of Happiness, 1950 by Kansuke Yamamoto and Alley, Chicago, 1948 by Harry Callahan. Showcasing 100 photographs, the artworks explore this early turning point in popular photographic style as well as how it was adopted by artists working in Japan and Chicago. This was largely through continual conversations between German art, Japanese architecture and ink paintings, and Chicago-based art galleries to create a “stateless” photographic choreography.

Coco Chanel by Man Ray 1935 Photograph © Man Ray Trust / Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY Courtesy, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston Featuring object: Maltese Cross cuffs (one of a pair) Fulco di Verdura (Italian (active in America), 1898–1978) about 1930 Gold, silver, enamel, stones Verdura (New York)

Dress Up, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Massachusetts

100 items of clothing from MFA Boston’s archives – including many never before displayed – come together to make this sartorial exhibition which celebrates the jovial art of dressing up. An art that, while seemingly infantile, is still guaranteed to bring a lot of joy in adulthood. Dressing up is transformational, it’s empowering, it’s expressional – it’s a whole visual language that helps people communicate with themselves and with each other. Honing in on the twentieth and twenty-first century, the collection showcases some of fashion’s biggest names of these centuries, including Alexander McQueen, Oscar de la Renta, Lanvin, Elsa Peretti, and many more. The exhibition is sectioned thematically, covering topics of child’s play, identity politics and more, and interestingly places a significant emphasis on jewellery. Discussing the idea of “jewellery as fashion and fashion as jewellery” there is a fun look at how accessories can be just as transformative with impressive pieces including the bracelet Coco Chanel was photographed wearing her whole life. The garments and accessories are also accompanied by photographs by the canonical Martin Parr, Man Ray, and Cecil Beaton, each helping to spotlight just how iconic some of these pieces indeed are.

Exterior of David Zwirner's new Los Angeles flagship building located at 606 N Western Avenue, designed by Selldorf Architects, 2024. Photo by Elon Schoenholz

David Zwirner: 30 Years, Los Angeles, California

Contemporary art gallery David Zwirner has made waves in the contemporary art scene since its conception in 1993, three decades ago, spotlighting the likes of Yayoi Kusama, Arthur Jafa, Michael Armitage and many more at the gallery’s spaces in New York, London, Paris, and Hong Kong. To celebrate thirty years of the gallery, David Zwirner is opening a new flagship space in Los Angeles with over 15,000 square feet of installation space (and a bonus view of the Hollywood sign), which is launching this month with an incredible exhibition featuring works by every single one of the gallery’s artists. Spanning sculpture, painting, and installations made specifically for the new space by world-renowned creatives, this is one to add to any Los Angeles-focussed to-do lists.

Lead image credit: Joel Meyerowitz, Florida, 1967
Archival pigment print; printed 2024, 20 x 24 inches

We may earn a commission if you buy something from any affiliate links on our site.

You May Also Like

Any Questions or Tips to add?

Comments are closed.