Clockwise Claude Monet, The Cliffs at Étretat, 1885, oil on canvas, 25 ⅝ x 32 in., Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, 1995.528. Courtesy Clark Art Institute; Reversible Rotation, Flying

The summer’s must-see exhibitions on the West Coast

A rare Keith Haring mural excavated from New York and Yoshitomo Nara’s first international retrospective are among the exciting lineup

Of the 45 murals Keith Haring created during his lifetime, less than half remain today. One of which is Grace House Mural, which is being exhibited by MCA Denver for the first time since it was created. The site-specific painting was executed in 1983-1984 to uplift at-risk teens at Grace House, a Catholic youth center in Manhattan. Recently excavated from its original site, the mural now exists as a series of 13 panels and additional ephemera, including the original plaque, mailbox, and two doors that Haring integrated into his design.

Installation view of Keith Haring Grace House Mural, Museum of Contemporary Art Denver. Courtesy Museum of Contemporary Art Denver

Installation view of Keith Haring: Grace House Mural, Museum of Contemporary Art Denver. Courtesy Museum of Contemporary Art Denver

Like his subway drawings and large-scale murals, this work was designed to encourage the public to engage with art. It features many of the artist’s key images: androgynous bodies, dog-like animals, ENERGY, and dancing figures.

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  • Agnes Pelton: Desert Transcendentalist and Agnes Pelton: Landscapes Palm Springs Art Museum
    Until 5 September 2021

To inaugurate its reopening last fall, the Palm Springs Art Museum spotlighted a local icon and under-appreciated artist with two exhibitions: Agnes Pelton: Desert Transcendentalist and Agnes Pelton: Landscapes. Organised by the Phoenix Art Museum, this travelling exhibition is the first survey of the American modernist painter’s work in over 25 years. It also represents her homecoming — while Pelton began her artistic career in New York City, she moved to Cathedral City after exhibiting her work at Palm Springs Desert Museum in 1995.

Agnes Pelton, Orbits, 1934. Oil on canvas. Collection of Oakland Museum of California, Gift of Concours d’Antiques, the Art Guild of the Oakland Museum of California. Courtesy Palm Springs Art Museum

Agnes Pelton, Orbits, 1934. Oil on canvas. Collection of Oakland Museum of California, Gift of Concours d’Antiques, the Art Guild of the Oakland Museum of California. Courtesy Palm Springs Art Museum

While the former show features the abstract compositions and spiritual subject matter for which she is most known, the latter exhibition comprises her more conventional explorations of nature. Numerology, Agni Yoga, and the writings of Carl Jung are among the esoteric subjects that interested Pelton.

Monet at Étretat was constructed around Fishing Boats at Étretat, the only painting by Claude Monet in the Seattle Art Museum’s collection. The artist ventured to the seaside town of Étretat on the Normandy Coast (just 16 miles northeast of his hometown of Le Havre) during the 1880s, a period of artistic frustration. With increasing financial pressure, Monet journeyed to this popular tourist destination in hopes of creating more marketable work featuring the village’s dramatic cliffs and fishing boats.

Claude Monet, Fishing Boats et Étretat, 1885, oil on canvas, 29 x 36 in., Seattle Art Museum, Gift of Sarah Hart, 92.88. Courtesy Seattle Art Museum

Claude Monet, Fishing Boats et Étretat, 1885, oil on canvas, 29 x 36 in., Seattle Art Museum, Gift of Sarah Hart, 92.88. Courtesy Seattle Art Museum

Ten paintings by Monet meet 12 works by other artists from the era, including Monet’s first teacher Eugène Boudin, Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, and Gustave Courbet, each of whom depicted Étretat differently. Photographs and tourist postcards are on view to further contextualise this overlooked period of growth in Monet’s life and illustrate his experimentation with light. Also explored are the physical aspects of plein air painting and the technical innovations Monet and his contemporaries made during the second half of the 19th century.

Surveying more than 30 years of work, from 1984 to 2020, Yoshitomo Nara is the first international retrospective of the Japanese artist known for his doe-eyed portraits. Often drawing from childhood memories and his passion for art history, Nara is also inspired by music, the focus of this exhibition, which will travel to other museums including the Yuz Museum, Shanghai.

Installation photograph of Yoshitomo Nara, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 2020, art © Yoshitomo Nara, photo © Museum AssociatesLACMA

Installation photograph of Yoshitomo Nara, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 2020, art © Yoshitomo Nara, photo © Museum Associates/LACMA

‘Music has been a passion for Nara since he began to listen to folk songs at age nine, and his relationship with music, namely with album cover art, provided him with an unconventional introduction to art history and artistic genres,’ explains exhibition curator Mika Yoshitake. A selection of the artist’s vast record collection greets visitors at the beginning of the show, which also features over 100 major paintings, drawings, sculpture, ceramics, and never-before-exhibited idea sketches. Other highlights include an installation that recreates the artist’s drawing studio, as well as Miss Forest, a 26-foot outdoor painted bronze sculpture situated on Wilshire Boulevard.

In 2015, the Asian Art Museum was the first museum in North America to collect an artwork from teamLab, a Tokyo-based international art collective whose exhibition spaces include Borderless, the most visited single-artist museum in the world. Exclusively at the Asian Art Museum this summer, teamLab: Continuity draws on traditional East Asian painting, calligraphy, and mythology through a digital experience that immerses visitors in a wonderland of colour and sound.

Installation view of teamLab Continuity, Asian Art Museum, San Francisco © teamLab, Courtesy Pace Gallery

Installation view of teamLab: Continuity, Asian Art Museum, San Francisco © teamLab, Courtesy Pace Gallery

The movement-sensitive artworks sprawl across 8,500 square feet in the brand-new Akiko Yamazaki and Jerry Yang Pavilion, the star of the museum’s five-year transformation and San Francisco’s largest new art exhibition space. The exhibition puts teamLab’s technical ingenuity on full display as dynamic algorithms that react to visitors make no digital animation the same.

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  • Precious Okoyomon: Every Earthly Morning the Sky’s Light touches Ur Life is Unprecedented in its Beauty Aspen Art Museum
    Until 18 September 2022

Poet and artist Precious Okoyomon is bringing a masterful, multilayered approach to the Aspen Art Museum rooftop space. Working with local growers, Okoyomon is producing a garden blending plants that are traditionally deemed invasive with plants indigenous to the region — a symbol of colonisation and enslavement. As the plants are cross-pollinated, they will rebuild the soil and form a lush, new biosphere.

Installation view of Precious Okoyomon Every Earthly Morning the Sky’s Light touches Ur Life is Unprecedented in its Beauty, Aspen Art Museum, 2021. Photograph by Simon Klein. Courtesy Aspen Art Museum

Installation view of Precious Okoyomon: Every Earthly Morning the Sky’s Light touches Ur Life is Unprecedented in its Beauty, Aspen Art Museum, 2021. Photograph by Simon Klein. Courtesy Aspen Art Museum

Large-scale ‘angel protectors’ sculptures by Okoyomon overlook the garden, which will be further brought to life through a custom soundtrack and a series of live collaborations with several of the artist’s friends who are poets, musicians, theorists, filmmakers, among other artists. During seasonal solstices, Okoyomon will hold interactive services focusing on Black feminism, self-fragilization, and queerness, and a poetry retreat will also take place in summer 2022.