As the new art season gets underway in museums from Richmond to Boston, Washingtonians who are willing to travel will find that a wealth of modernist painting beckons from beyond the Beltway. Among the highlights on view now are such New York exhibitions as “Balthus: Cats and Girls — Paintings and Provocations”(through Jan. 12 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art); “Chagall: Love, War and Exile”(through Feb. 2 at the Jewish Museum); “Magritte: The Mystery of the Ordinary, 1926-1938” (through Jan. 12 at the Museum of Modern Art, or MOMA); and “Robert Motherwell: Early Collages” (through Jan. 5 at the Guggenheim).
The coming months hold even more modernism, and even closer to home. “Leger: Modern Art and the Metropolis” opens Oct. 14 at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. “German Expressionism” debuts Jan. 29 at the Baltimore Museum of Art.
But why stick with the tried and true?
Known for its stellar collection of ancient Egyptian art, Baltimore’s Walters Art Museum opens “Egypt’s Mysterious Book of the Faiyum” on Sunday. Organized in conjunction with the Roemer-und-Pelizaeus-Museum, Hildesheim, the show features as its centerpiece a nearly-20-foot-long papyrus illustrating the adventures of Sobek the Egyptian crocodile god. Too old? Check out “She Who Tells a Story: Women Photographers From Iran and the Arab World.” On view now at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the group show features a dozen artists who are known for making provocative statements in their work, such as against the oppression of women in fundamentalist Islamic cultures.
Here are several other suggestions for out-of-town art trips that shine a light on artists, themes and genres that are, for one reason or another, off the beaten track.
One thing about those folks listed in the first paragraph: They’re all men. For a more estrogen-rich art diet, consider these:
“Sarah Sze” (Dec. 13-April 6) is a good place to start getting to know Philadelphia’s Fabric Workshop and Museum, an adventurous institution that isn’t yet a household name and probably doesn’t want to be. Although the artist, who represented the United States at this year’s Venice Biennale, doesn’t work exclusively — or even primarily — with fabric, her elaborate, room-filling architectural constructions of found objects are a perfect fit for the quirky museum, whose purview extends well beyond textiles.
In 2008, Amy Sillman was the subject of a small, single-gallery show at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden. Now, the painter is getting a mid-career survey with “One Lump or Two,” on view at Boston’s Institute of Contemporary Art through Jan. 5. Organized by the ICA’s Helen Molesworth, a former curator of contemporary art at the Baltimore Museum of Art, the show will trace Sillman’s stylistic evolution from her cartoonish figuration of the 1990s to her current use of colorful abstraction.
Photographer and video artist Carrie Mae Weems will be the subject of a 30-year retrospective opening Jan. 24 at the Guggenheim. Known for her socially conscious staged images, Weems was recently named a recipient of a MacArthur “Genius Grant.”