The Biggest Art Shows and Exhibitions You Can’t Miss in 2024

The arts calendar for 2024 is positively stacked. There’s “The Harlem Renaissance and Transatlantic Modernism” at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, an exhibition showcasing paintings, sculptures, and photographs to chronicle the famous artistic and social movement; the de Young’s show with Taiwanese-American artist Lee Mingwei, who is known for his installations that call for audience participation; and “O’Keeffe and Moore,” a celebration (and juxtaposition) of two major modernist artists at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. And that’s just in Q1. It’s a lot to keep track of, but fear not: we’ve put together a list of the highlights of this year in New York City, Los Angeles, and beyond. Consider this your grab-bag guide to the can’t-miss exhibitions of the season, and check back often—we’ll be updating this list as more events roll in throughout the year.

Ebecho Muslimova: Rumors at Mendes Wood and Whispers at Bernheim

Ebecho Muslimova, Fatebe Farm to Table, 2024.

Courtesy of Mendes Wood DM and the Artist

The visual artist Ebecho Muslimova transfers all of her deepest emotions into a lively, rollicking character who appears, in some form, in all of her works. Named Fatebe, the character is “a surrogate self, or a self-device,” as Muslimova, who was born in Russia and now lives between New York and Mexico City, described it in a recent interview. “She allows me to flatten out certain emotional or mental experiences that are formless because they are in my own interior.” The artist is translating those feelings into a dual show being held on two different continents. First, there’s “Rumors” at Mendes Wood in São Paulo, which debuted on May 25th; next up is “Whispers” opening at Bernheim Gallery in Zurich on June 7th. Each of the eight pieces on view will have a corresponding “sister painting in the other city, like a game of telephone, or a long-distance romance,” a press release from Muslimova reads. Fatebe is up to her old hijinks again in the new exhibition: paintings depict the character nude, flashing her crotch beneath a tent, or using a shovel attached to her head to stack a pile of rocks. As seen above, she also has the power to transcend the metaphysical. “Rumors” will show at Mendes Wood through October 8; “Whispers” runs until July 26 at Bernheim.

Alicja Kwade and Agnes Martin: Space Between the Lines 1201 South La Brea Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90019 May 18 – June 29, 2024. Photography by Jeff McLane, courtesy Pace Gallery.

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For her first major exhibition since joining Pace’s roster, the artist Alicja Kwade presents two new sculptures in conversation with works by Agnes Martin at the gallery’s Los Angeles space. Though the two artists come from different generations and cultures, their practices are united by similar conceptual preoccupations. “Both artists have been involved in the possibilities of line, both bring a meditative sensibility, and both are interested in questions of time,” says Pace founder Arne Glimcher, who co-curated the show with Kwade. “Both make works that reveal themselves slowly, with time. I have always felt Agnes’s work is closer to music than it is to traditional painting, and with Alicja, there is a parallel sense of adjacency with other modes of perception.” The resulting exhibition, on view through June 29, offers a quiet opportunity for reflection and retreat.

George, Miami Beach, 1964

Brooklyn Museum

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The Beatles’s whirlwind rise to global fame has been covered ad nauseam, but never before has the public gotten such an intimate glimpse at what it was like on the inside as with Eyes of the Storm, a new exhibition based on a book by the same title featuring more than 250 of Paul McCartney’s previously unpublished personal photos. Paired with video clips and archival footage, the photographs, taken at the height of Beatlemania on McCartney’s Pentax during the band’s first U.S. tour, capture the intense wave of energy the Fab Four were riding as they performed all over the country, starting in New York City. The exhibit is on view May 3–August 18.

Ettore Sottsass: Shapes, Colors, and Symbols at Raisonné

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Italian architect Ettore Sottsass is best known for bold, bright works that brought a spirit of optimism to a shell-shocked, postwar world hungry for color and inspiration. A new survey of his work at Raisonné celebrates this legacy, in addition to lesser known but equally stunning works by the artist in a variety of mediums. The exhibition, open May 8-June 30, features 75 pieces spanning five decades, and includes ceramics, furniture, and rare glass works inspired by Native Hopi katsina dolls, made just before Sottsass’s death in 2007. Each piece illustrates Sottsass’s unique ability to elevate everyday objects into something otherworldly—like the cherry red Olivetti typewriter he designed in 1969 for Valentine’s Day, or the famous Ultrafragola mirrors that have helped spark the Sottsass revival on Instagram, as seen in influencer bedrooms everywhere. The exhibit shows that design should be, as Sottsass once said, like “an aspirin for a headache”—solving problems and soothing the senses at the same time.

Reynaldo Rivera. Pamela Mendez and Pablo Aguirre Lopez, Echo Park. 1994.

Courtesy the artist and Reena Spaulings Fine Art

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The photographer Reynaldo Rivera is a fixture of Los Angeles. A soothsayer and wisdom keeper of the highest order, he knows all the history, even the parts they don’t want you to know—if it happened, he was there, finger on the shutter. Rivera lands his first institutional show on the East Coast this spring at MoMA PS1. The title, “Fistful Of Love/También La Belleza,” is a lyric from a love song but also a nod to Rivera’s unflinching eye and camera—which captures scenes of gut-wrenching love and violence. Freed from the city of its origin, or one of them, the work gets a chance to resonate in new ways, revealing Rivera as not just a documentarian but an auto-fictionist, writing romances with a camera as he lived them. Opens May 16. —Kat Herriman

Adam Pendleton Black Dada (A/A), 2024.

© Adam Pendleton, courtesy Pace Gallery

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For the painter Adam Pendleton, the phrase “Black Dada” is a mantra, one that has allowed him to keep finding new terrain rather than hitting dead ends within the realm of abstraction. In his first major New York solo show since 2021, Pendleton returns with a triumphant new body of work that doubles down on the concept. Looking to literary role models like Amiri Baraka and bell hooks—who have redefined words and characters we thought we knew so well—Pendleton plays with the vocabulary of non-figurative work and makes it feel fresher than ever. Opens May 2. —Kat Herriman

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Last year, the scrappy, artist-run space 99 Canal built up some serious buzz with the inaugural edition of the experimental performance series 5×5, featuring five artists, each paired with a different curator, to present a series of happenings spread over five days. This year’s lineup promises to continue pushing the boundaries of conventional presentation: it includes the painter Emma Stern paired with the filmmaker Kevin Peter He, the rising star performer Nile Harris, and the contemporary dancer Fana Fraser. Performances occur each evening between Tuesday, May 7th, and Saturday, May 11th; entry is free and first come, first served.

Donna Dennis: Houses and Hotels at O’Flahertys

Donna Dennis, “Tourist Cabin Porch (Maine),” 1976. Acrylic and enamel on wood and Masonite, glass, metal screen, fabric, incandescent light, sound. 6’6” x 6’10” x 2’2”.

Photographed by Dylan Obser and Matthew Conradt. Courtesy of the artist and O’Flahertys.

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In a darkened room on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, Donna Dennis’s sculptures are glowing from within: in not-quite-large-enough tourist cabins, hotels, and disembodied porches, lights illuminate faded wallpaper and clapboard siding, suggesting an eerily silent evening on a long-lost vacation. The sculptures, which Dennis made from the early 1970s to the 1990s, represent “stopping places on the journey through life,” as the gallery puts it. With summer on the horizon but winter very much lingering in New York City, a visit to this artist-run space offers a peaceful respite from contemporary reality. Catch it before the lights go back on on April 28th.

Kikuo Saito: Color Codes at James Fuentes Gallery

Kikuo Saito, Copper Table, 1993.

Courtesy of the artist and James Fuentes Gallery

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To celebrate the opening of James Fuentes Gallery’s new space in New York City’s Tribeca neighborhood, the Lower East Side hub for contemporary art is mounting an exhibition fitting of such a watershed moment. From March 8 through April 20, the gallery will host the largest presentation to date of the Japanese-American artist Kikuo Saito. Dubbed “Color Codes,” the show centers on Saito’s “Monochromatic” works—large-scale paintings he created during 1990-93 in his Tribeca studio (located just six blocks from the gallery’s new home at 52 White Street). This isn’t the first time James Fuentes has opened an exhibition featuring Saito’s works; in 2021, the gallery presented Saito’s landmark pieces, all done in black. But this time, “Color Codes” focuses on a riot of bright, deep hues peppered with scribbled text and tacked-on lettering. Organized by former Whitney Museum and MoMA PS1 curator Christopher Y. Lew, the show epitomizes downtown art culture in New York City.

Patrick Martinez: Histories at Dallas Contemporary

Patrick Martinenz, fleeting bougainvillea landscape 1 stucco, 2023.

Photograph by Joshua White

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Beginning April 3, Dallas Contemporary is bringing the largest show of painter Patrick Martinez’s inside its walls. “Histories,” which opens April 3 and runs through September 1, will feature brand-new pieces and a hefty bite of Martinez’s past works—all of which aim to spotlight marginalized Latinx and BIPOC communities. The multimedia artist, who was born and raised in L.A., specializes in painting, but his approach calls for myriad materials and forms. The show, therefore, will include installations, neon works, and, of course, huge painted pieces. Curated by Rafael Barrientos Martínez, the exhibition’s location plays a special part. “With California and Texas both having the largest Latinx populations in the United States, DC is an ideal platform for showcasing Martinez’s powerful works, which unify immigrant and BIPOC communities through a strong, shared visual language,” said Dallas Contemporary’s executive director, Carolina Alvarez-Mathies.

Olivia Erlanger: If Today Were Tomorrow at CAMH

Olivia Erlanger, Ida (installation view) at Mother Culture, Los Angeles, 2018.

Image and work courtesy of the artist. Photo by Ilia Ovechkin

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Meanwhile, farther south in Texas, the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston is mounting its newest exhibition, “Olivia Erlanger: If Today Were Tomorrow,” which opens on April 20 and will be on view through October 28. Marking the artist’s first solo museum show in the United States, “If Today Were Tomorrow” will include installation works, short films, and sculptures—all of which are brand-new. Erlanger’s practice, in particular, seeks to define what “home” means; these themes have absorbed her work for the past decade or so. For “ITWT” specifically, Erlanger mulled “closed worlds,” which she defines as human-made, climate-controlled environments. And in a full-circle moment, the show will take place in Contemporary Arts Museum Houston’s cool, subterranean space, the Nina and Michael Zilkha Gallery.

The Harlem Renaissance and Transatlantic Modernism at The Metropolitan Museum of Art

William Henry Johnson, Woman in Blue.

Courtesy of The Met

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One of the most important Afro-American movements of the interwar period took place fewer than 25 blocks away from The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Now, The Met pays homage to the Harlem Renaissance with a sprawling exhibition opening from February 25 to July 28. “The Harlem Renaissance and Transatlantic Modernism” features over 160 photographs, paintings, and sculptures from artists who were integral to the artistic and social movement, including Augusta Savage, Aaron Douglas, Charles Alston, William Henry Johnson, and many more. Additionally, some juxtaposition is at play in “Harlem Renaissance”—some pieces are mounted next to European works by Henri Matisse and Edvard Munch that depict their ideas of the African diaspora.

Crafting Modernity: Design in Latin America at the MoMA

Roberto Burle Marx, Ibirapuera Park, Quadricentennial Gardens, project, São Paulo, Brazil (Plan, detail five ). 1953.

Courtesy of The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Inter-American Fund

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From March 8 to September 22, 2024, the Museum of Modern Art will open its main exhibition of the year: an exploration of the birth and evolution of modern design in Latin America. “Crafting Modernity” features more than 300 pieces—including ceramics, textiles, furniture, and posters—from all kinds of 20th-century design movements, including modernism and folkloric. The exhibition aims to demonstrate how Latin American designers (including pioneering artists like Clara Porset and Lina Bo Bardi, whose works are featured in the show) fused their local traditions, indigenous techniques, and industriousness to make objects that are beautiful, useful, and reflective of their cultures.

Lee Mingwei: Rituals of Care at the de Young Museum

Lee Ming wei, Guernica in Sand, 2006-present.

Photo courtesy of Taipei Fine Arts Museum

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Lee Mingwei’s installations hinge upon audience participation; the Taiwanese-American contemporary artist often creates works contemplating human relationships. He likes to bring viewers into the fold, urging them to interact with him and his ideas (in one exhibition titled “The Sleeping Project,” Mingwei invited visitors to sleep in a bed with him). Beginning in February, the de Young Museum in San Francisco is opening an exhibition focusing on and celebrating Mingwei’s installations. On view at the show: “The Letter Writing Project,” in which museum-goers can write a note to a person who’s been on their mind, along with “Guernica in Sand,” where one of Picasso’s most famous artworks is redone in sand—then slowly erased.

Cauleen Smith: The Wanda Coleman Songbook at 52 Walker

Cauleen Smith, Work in progress, 2023.

© Cauleen Smith. Courtesy the artist and 52 Walker, New York

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For its tenth exhibition, the David Zwirner-backed NYC gallery 52 Walker is celebrating the work of the Los Angeles-based artist Cauleen Smith in an exhibition titled “The Wanda Coleman Songbook.” Smith—who is known for her 1998 feature film Drylongso, along with scores of other multimedia works—has created an immersive video installation for this show, one which explores the poems of Coleman through sight, sound, and even scent. Coleman, who passed away nine years ago and was largely viewed as the unofficial poet laureate of L.A., was a major source of inspiration for Smith, who looked to the writer’s work as a way to reconnect with Los Angeles after she moved away from the city for 16 years. Along with “Songbook,” a limited-edition EP features the likes of Kelsey Lu, Jamila Woods, and Standing on the Corner—all of whom created original songs for the exhibition.

Cindy Sherman at Hauser & Wirth

Cindy Sherman, Untitled #659, 2023.

© Cindy Sherman. Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth

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When you see a Cindy Sherman piece, there’s never a question as to which artist could have possibly made such a surreal, utterly captivating work (Sherman herself has confirmed as much about her mind-bending photographs: “When I’m shooting, I’m trying to get to a point where I’m not recognizing myself,” she has said). And on January 18, Hauser & Wirth’s downtown location in New York City will feature a solo show celebrating 30 brand-new works. The area is a special one for Sherman in particular—in SoHo, during the late 1970s, she debuted “Untitled Film Stills” at the nonprofit Artists Space, launching her decades-long career that has cemented her as one of the most influential artists of this century.

Jamian Juliano-Villani: It at Gagosian

Jamian Juliano-Villani, Spaghettios.

© Jamian Juliano-Villani. Photo by Rob McKeever, courtesy of Gagosian.

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New York City painter Jamian Juliano-Villani draws inspiration from memes and fashion photography for her cheeky, hyperreal works. Beginning in March, she will show a range of new paintings at Gagosian Gallery surrounding the hero image Spaghettios (2023), pictured above. Additionally, the show will feature the first major publication encompassing Juliano-Villani’s oeuvre from 2013 to 2023.

Madeline Donahue: Present Tense at Nina Johnson

Madeline Donahue, Floor Is Lava.

Photo courtesy of Nina Johnson and the artist

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Madeline Donahue’s colorful paintings evoke both lightness and brutal honesty regarding the realities of motherhood. Come January 18, the Houston native, now based in New York City, will mount never-before-seen works at Nina Johnson Gallery in Miami. Running through February 17, 2024, “Present Tense” will explore even more themes of intimacy, motherhood, and taking ownership of one’s life through 25 drawings and 12 paintings, including Red Studio—a piece that illustrates Donahue painting and her children playing in the downstairs studio of her new house. It was inspired by a Matisse work of the same name.

Georgia O’Keeffe and Henry Moore: Giants of Modern Art at MMFA

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Henry Moore, Modèle de travail pour « Ovale avec pointes », 1968-1969.

Reproduced with authorization from the Henry Moore Foundation, photograph by Errol Jackson.

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Georgia O’Keeffe, Série I – formes florales blanches et bleues, 1919.

© Georgia O’Keeffe Museum / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / CARCC Ottawa 2023

Meanwhile, in Montreal, the Canadian city’s Museum of Fine Arts is opening a large-scale exhibition that considers the works of two 20th-century artistic icons—the British sculptor Henry Moore and American painter Georgia O’Keeffe. Opening February 10, “Giants of Modern Art” juxtaposes their lives and artworks in parallel and features over 120 of their most well-known works—all of which consider humanity’s place in, and connection to, the natural world.

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