The best exhibitions and openings of 2022 — North America
Highlighting a diverse range of artists and designers, these North American exhibitions are not to be missed
11 February-15 May 2022
The Morgan Library, New York
Hans Holbein the Younger (1497/8-1543) was one of the most celebrated portrait painters of 16-century Europe, most famously serving as court painter to Tudor King Henry VIII. His portraits were renowned for conveying the dispositions of his subjects as well as their likenesses.
Holbein: Capturing Character spans Holbein’s entire career and includes art by his contemporaries, along with jewelry and book bindings from his life. In doing so, the exhibition offers the cultural context for Holbein’s portraiture and demonstrates the expanding role of individuality in the arts of the period.
The exhibition was co-organized with the Getty Museum in Los Angeles and marks the first major U.S. exhibition dedicated to the artist. Works exclusive to the Morgan’s presentation include a portrait of Sir Thomas Moore, painted shortly before the statesman and philosopher’s promotion to the prestigious position of Lord Chancellor, and a section devoted to the development of Holbein and Hans Lützelburger’s masterful woodcut series, Images of Death.
15 February-8 May, 2022
J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
Poussin and the Dance presents paintings and drawings by the influential 17th-century painter Nicolas Poussin in conversation with original dance films by contemporary Los Angeles-based choreographers Micaela Taylor, Chris Emile, and Ana Maria Alvarez.
During his time living and working in Rome in the 1620s and 30s, Poussin painted several scenes of dancing nymphs and satyrs. Through his paintings of dancers, Poussin explored the body's expressive potential to portray motion in a still image. This show offers clear insights into Poussin’s artistic process and includes representative examples of the antiquities from which he drew much of his subject matter.
By juxtaposing Poussin’s work and influences with contemporary choreography, the exhibition interrogates Poussin’s cultural significance while showcasing commonalities between dance and painting that bridge centuries. Poussin and the Dance was co-organized with the National Gallery, London.
16 April-31 July 2022
Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond
In the 19th- and early 20th-centuries, France was a popular and influential destination for artists to come and perfect their craft. France had a thriving art infrastructure, with plentiful opportunities to study at official academies, private schools, and with individual mentor artists. James Abbott McNeill Whistler, John Singer Sargent, and Mary Cassatt were among the first influential wave of artists who went to Paris for inspiration.
This thematically organized exhibition highlights the French styles that American painters adopted, championed, and borrowed, as well as the contexts for their development. The art included shows a clear artistic lineage and was predominantly painted during these artists' tenures in France.
Whistler to Cassatt was first presented at the Denver Art Museum and features masterworks from collections around the U.S. and Europe, such as the National Gallery in Washington D.C. and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
15 May-5 September 2022
Art Institute of Chicago
Paul Cézanne's art practice made him one of the most enduring and influential modern artists. He focused on rendering sensations, creating works that spoke to or even recreated experiences for the viewer and artist alike.
His approach to art made him a favorite of many other artists, both during his life and beyond. Pablo Picasso even called him ‘the greatest of us all’. This retrospective considers Cézanne's work alongside analyses of his practice from art historians, conservators, and contemporary practicing artists.
Cézanne is the first major retrospective celebrating the artist's work in more than 25 years. It includes some of his most iconic and well-known art while bringing together other, more rarely seen works from public and private collections all over the world. The show was co-organized by the Art Institute of Chicago and Tate Modern, London.
25 March-18 September 2022
Menil Collection, Houston
Meret Oppenheim’s witty, unconventional artworks span countless media and themes but are all tied together by the strength and whimsy of her artistic convictions. Oppenheim first achieved international acclaim in 1936 when she was only 23 for her Surrealist work Object, a fur-lined teacup, spoon, and saucer.
The objects and paintings she made in this period defy logic while still having profound sensory impacts on the body. Many use unconventional materials to evoke other visceral and playful images, such as her work My Nurse, consisting of a pair of white high-heeled shoes bound together on a silver platter. Oppenheim worked with many themes across her long career.
This chronological exhibition follows her in the wake of World War II, as she experimented with other artistic movements and styles. Meret Oppenheim: My Exhibition is co-organized by The Museum of Modern Art, New York, and the Kunstmuseum Bern, where it will travel after its time at the Menil.
29 January-24 April, 2022
Nasher Sculpture Center, Dallas
Harry Bertoia’s iconic jewelry and chairs helped frame the aesthetics of the 1940s and 50s, while many museums collected his designs and sculptures. Presenting his oeuvre together, Harry Bertoia: Sculpting Mid-Century Modern Life speaks to the fluidity of visual language across disparate media and the power of good design.
While he is likely best-known for his work as a furniture designer, winning many awards for his work with the Eames Office from 1944 and Knoll from 1950-52, his sculptures were also renowned by artists and architects alike. His innovative use of sound placed him at the forefront of contemporary art, earning him large-scale commissions to make sculptures for noteworthy new buildings, alongside sculptors such as Alexander Calder and Henry Moore.
Harry Bertoia: Sculpting Mid-Century Modern Life brings together over 100 works spanning his whole career, creating a wide-ranging picture of a well-designed life from the middle of the 20th century.
1 May-11 September 2022
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Over his 50-year career, Philip Guston’s painting transitioned through several styles. He created powerful socialist murals modeled after Mexican realism in the 1930s and 40s, Abstract Expressionist works as a part of the New York School in the 40s and 50s, and eventually brought the two together in his stylized representational works from the 60s and 70s. Through his stylistic variations, Guston remained committed to portraying the realities of oppression in the United States in his art, sparking fierce admiration and controversy alike.
Guston’s painting has consistently provoked strong reactions in its viewers. This exhibition brings together the largest reunion of paintings from Guston’s groundbreaking Marlborough Gallery show in 1970. Guston employs a symbolic vocabulary of hooded figures and boots in these highly evocative works, invoking associations of oppression, fascism, and the KKK.
Guston’s paintings drew heavy criticism when the artist first presented them, and the art world has continued to dispute them since. Initially scheduled for 2020, Philip Guston Now was re-considered in the wake of the murder of George Floyd and the subsequent summer 2020 uprising. Its upcoming presentation by the MFA; the National Gallery of Art, Washington; the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; and Tate Modern, London reaffirms the necessity of Guston’s work, as it unflinchingly depicts the reality of oppression in the U.S.
11 April-31 July 2022
Philadelphia Museum of Art
Sean Scully: The Shape of Ideas surveys the Irish-born American artist’s career, highlighting his innumerable contributions to the development of contemporary abstract art.
The exhibition is organized chronologically, beginning with paintings Scully executed from 1972-73 during a fellowship at Harvard, in which he experimented with minimalist gestures such as the grid, and started developing motifs in his painting such as his iconic ‘“inset’ ” structure, in which he creates a painting within a painting. The exhibition then follows Scully’s career through the present day, including Black Blue Window, which the artist created as a personal response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Scully's work takes inspiration from the world around him, using forms and colors the artist drew from experiences living and working in Mexico, the remote islands of the Outer Hebrides, and New York City. Sean Scully: The Shape of Ideas presents the astounding omnivorousness with which Scully assimilates new techniques, ideas, and visions into his work.
2 April-18 September 2022
Museo Jumex, Mexico City
Swiss artist Urs Fischer’s irreverent oeuvre is broad in scope, spanning sculpture, photography, drawing, painting, and writing. Urs Fischer: Lovers showcases the abiding wit and irreverence which binds Fischer’s disparate practice together.
Fischer’s work is highly conceptual and plays off the spaces in which it is displayed. His first solo exhibition in an American museum took up three floors of the New Museum in New York and featured immersive, hallucinatory installations. Two years later, at the 2011 Venice Biennale, he presented a monumental wax copy of Giambologna’s sculpture Rape of the Sabine Women, which turned out to be a candle that the artist lit and left to melt over the event’s three months.
Urs Fischer: Lovers includes work made at different points during the last 20 years of his career and consists of some of his most beloved pieces and installations, alongside a few new pieces made specifically for the Museo Jumex.
Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston
Ghanaian artist Amoako Boafo’s portraiture places Black experience, joy, and agency at the center of his artistic practice. Boafo often contrasts soft, finger-painted skin with controlled brushstrokes, creating dynamic images that speak to the individuality of each person he paints.
The exhibition's title, The Souls of Black Folk, is taken from the seminal sociological text of the same name by W.E.B. DuBois, an ethnographic study of Black life. Du Bois coined the term ‘double-consciousness’ to describe how a white supremacist society forces Black people to view themselves through the eyes of others to survive.
Boafo's intimate portraiture pictures the beauty and tenderness that come from eliminating the veil of otherness. In doing so, he reclaims and celebrates Black subjectivity.
10 April-17 July, 2022
National Gallery, Washington, D.C.
Initially presented in 2018 by the Museu de Arte de São Paulo (MASP), Afro-Atlantic Histories features art from the African diaspora, made in 24 countries over the last five centuries.
The National Gallery has reconfigured this groundbreaking exhibition to reflect the exhibition's location in the U.S. capital. The NGA builds on MASP’s theme of histórias, or narratives, in six thematically organized sections, such as ‘Rites and Rhythms,’ ‘Everyday Lives,’ and ‘Resistances and Activism’.
This organization places artists from vastly different backgrounds and time periods together to address the same topics freely. For example, in the ‘Everyday Lives’ section, Landscape with Anteater circa (c. 1660) by Dutch artist Frans Post portrays enslaved laborers as a part of an idealized landscape while Romare Bearden’s monumental collage Tomorrow I May Be Far Away (1967) depicts a sharecropper using a dynamic style inspired by jazz.
Afro-Atlantic Histories aims not to present a unified vision of the African diaspora, but rather to uphold and uplift the diverse perspectives that have been historically marginalized by the legacy of the Transatlantic slave trade.
14 May-18 September 2022
Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas
Cartier and Islamic Art: In Search of Modernity tracks the development of the cross-cultural relationships that made Cartier’s designs possible.
Many fine examples of Cartier jewelry feature geometric forms, naturalistic designs, and Chinese-influenced motifs drawn from Arabic and Persian art. Cartier also borrowed many techniques and color combinations from Islamic art, such as using carved colorful gemstones in jewelry, now known as the iconic and colorful Tutti Frutti style.
The exhibition includes art from Cartier’s personal collection, as well as the Islamic art collections of the DMA, the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, and the Louvre, which all co-organized Cartier and Islamic Art: In Search of Modernity.