Art This Week in Culture

Here Are the 8 Institutional Exhibitions You Cannot Miss This Month

Reynaldo Rivera, Pamela Mendez and Pablo Aguirre Lopez, Echo Park, 1994. Image courtesy the artist and Reena Spaulings Fine Art.

New York

“Fistful of Love/También la Belleza” by Reynaldo Rivera
When: May 16 - September 9
Why It’s Worth a Look: This is Rivera's first solo museum exhibition, showcasing a wide range of his photographic works and a feature-length film pulled from archival footage. From 1981 to the present, 50 black-and-white and color photographs capture the bohemian scenes of Los Angeles and beyond. In each, Rivera casts his subject as the lead of their own narrative, portraying them as they wish to be seen.
Know Before You Go: The self-taught photographer began his journey in the Echo Park neighborhood of Los Angeles, photographing friends and family. His work reflects the influence of traditional Mexican music, classic cinema, and the intimacy characteristic of Brassaï and Henri Cartier-Bresson. 

Jenny Holzer, For the Guggenheim, 2008. Image courtesy of the artist and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum.

“Light Line” by Jenny Holzer
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
When: May 17 - September 29
Why It’s Worth a Look: Holzer’s “Light Line” reimagines her 1989 installation at the Guggenheim, taking full advantage of the iconic Frank Lloyd Wright building. The exhibition has commandeered all six ramps up to the dome with the artist's famous LED signs displaying a variety of texts from Truisms and Inflammatory Essays. The installation is presented alongside a retrospective of her works dating back to the 1970s to today. 
Know Before You Go: From May 16-20, the Guggenheim’s exterior will also become a canvas for Holzer’s light projection, For the Guggenheim, at sundown. 

“Sleeping Beauties: Reawakening Fashion”
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
When: May 10 - September 2
Why It’s Worth a Look: It's Met Gala time, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute is unveiling its annual exhibition, this year using nature as a thematic lens to examine the concepts of fragility, ephemerality, and renewal in fashion. The show utilizes both advanced technologies and traditional techniques to animate around 250 garments and accessories from the past four centuries. 
Know Before You Go: The Met has employed tools, ranging from from A.I. and CGI to x-rays and soundscapes, to create a multi-sensory experience that revives the essence of these once-worn iconic pieces.

Shuang Li, Déjà Vu (Film Still), 2022. Image courtesy of the artist and Peres Projects.

"I’m Not” by Shuang Li and “Cloisters & Instruments” by Kobby Adi
Swiss Institute
When: May 1 - August 25 
Why It’s Worth a Look: The Swiss Institute presents two solo shows by artists Shuang Li and Kobby Adi. Li's exhibition offers a personal look into her experiences and how they have been shaped by digital culture and subcultures, mainly through her engagement with the band My Chemical Romance. Her work blends sculpture and video to explore fandom and identity's material and emotional dimensions. Meanwhile, Adi's show explores decay, transformation, and the metaphysical through film and sculpture. His work challenges notions of time and material integrity.
Know Before You Go: Li has created an immersive environment with a large-scale architectural model and video installation. For Adi's part, a contemplative space has been constructed with components of the work available for viewing and interaction at local libraries. 

“Steve McQueen”
Dia Beacon
When: Opening May 12
Why It’s Worth a Look: Celebrated for his explorations of history, race, and class through film, photography, and installation, McQueen’s new exhibition at Dia Beacon is a world of sensory engagement. The artist delves into how light, color, and sound affect our perceptions of space and time by transforming the 30,000-square-foot gallery into an immersive environment. In the room, a light show performs in time with a responsive audio track.
Know Before You Go: Steve McQueen’s installation is a newly commissioned work by the Dia Art Foundation and the Schaulager's Laurenz Foundation.

Esiri Erheriene-Essi, The Birthday Party, 2021. Image courtesy of the artist and Jorge M. Pérez Collection.


“When We See Us: A Century of Black Figuration in Painting”
Kunstmuseum Basel
When: May 25 - October 27
Why It’s Worth a Look: This exhibition gathers over 200 artworks by 120 artists, offering an unprecedented look at a century of figurative painting by Black artists from Africa and the diaspora. From the everyday to the moments of triumph and emancipation, “When We See Us” shows how these creators have captured and processed communal experiences through their art. Celebrated figures like Michael Armitage, Njideka Akunyili Crosby, and Amy Sherald have works on display, among others.
Know Before You Go: Curated by the team at Zeitz MOCAA, the exhibition is enhanced by sound stations and atmospheric staging designed to deepen the understanding of the works' themes and contexts.


“Mary Cassatt at Work” 
Philadelphia Museum of Art
When: May 18 - September 8
Why It’s Worth a Look: The French Impressionist is known for her poignant and intimate portrayals of women and children. Born in Pennsylvania but a resident of Paris, Cassatt defied the expectations of her elite background to forge a new path as an artist. “Mary Cassatt at Work” presents over 130 of her pieces, including prints, paintings, and pastels, where her subjects are seen carrying out activities traditionally seen as feminine—like knitting or reading. Cassatt's brush highlighted the engagement and skill these tasks require.
Know Before You Go: This exhibition presents fresh findings regarding Cassatt's materials and artistic methods, which were far ahead of their time, found through technical studies of the museum's significant holdings.

June Clark, Harlem Quilt, 1997. Image courtesy of the artist and Daniel Faria Gallery.


“Witness” by June Clark
The Power Plant 
When: May 3 - August 11 
Why It’s Worth a Look: Born in Harlem and having moved to Canada in 1968, Clark’s multifaceted body of work includes photo-based pieces, text-based art, collages, installations, and sculptural assemblages. “Witness” is the first survey in Canada of her work, tracing back to four significant periods of her journey from the 1990s to the present. Pieces like Family Secrets and Harlem Quilt delve into themes of history, memory, and identity.
Know Before You Go: The exhibition also introduces her latest endeavors, such as "Perseverance Suite," which the artist started in 2021, and the assemblage series "Homage," which the artist stated, “gave [her] permission to be the artist [she is] today.”