There have been persistent murmurs in the art world about the imminent (market) demise of the so-called Zombie Formalism movement, a kind of colorful, undemanding type of abstract painting that's commanded astronomical prices for the past few years. Dire predictions and a few disappointing auction results aside, the evidence is hardly overwhelming.
And yet, looking ahead to the fall’s most anticipated openings, there appears to be a preponderance of shows that feature gallerywide installations, immersive video art, and site-specific objects, most of which are about as living-room-wall-friendly as a grenade.
"It seems painting is not the medium of choice at the moment, especially abstraction," says art adviser Eleanor Cayre. "A lot of people are starting to take video more seriously."
The following, culled from around the globe, is a list of the most hotly anticipated shows where there isn't a single decorative canvas in sight.
Alberto Garutti at Buchmann Galerie, through Oct. 31, Berlin
Garutti is an Italian artist who works in photography, drawing, sculpture, painting, video, and sound. This solo exhibition includes lovely perforated mirrors—the holes were drilled along the reflections of the artist’s studio furniture—and spools of nylon thread, whose length corresponds to the distance between two meaningful sites, i.e. his house and his gallery show. buchmanngalerie.com
Bruce McLean at Tanya Leighton, through Oct. 10, Berlin
Most of McLean’s art is conceptual, and most of his concepts involve comedy (or, at the very least, some semblance of a sense of humor). In this new show, a video installation that's “a collection and synthesis of some of [his] concerns” is paired with a few delicate, painterly paintings of peeled potatoes, along with a bronze sculpture of ... yet another peeled potato. tanyaleighton.com
Christian Marclay at Paula Cooper, through Oct. 17, New York
Marclay is probably best known for his 24-hour video piece The Clock (when it was exhibited at MoMA, there were near-constant lines to see it). Here he's created a new room-size video installation consisting of “animated onomatopoeias” projected onto all four walls of the gallery; when the word "zoom" appears, it speeds along accordingly. paulacoopergallery.com
FORT at Sies + Höke, through Oct. 16, Düsseldorf
FORT, an artist duo based in Berlin, has a thriving practice comprised of appropriating various totems of everyday life, sticking them in a gallery, and making them unsettlingly weird. (Yes, you are in a white-walled gallery; yes, there is a half-eaten ice cream cone next to you presented as art.) This show is an investigation into “the notion of emptiness,” and includes a closed shop door, plumped-up garbage bags, and meticulously arranged trash. sieshoeke.com
Gego at Dominique Levy, through Oct. 24, New York
Gego, whose real name was Gertrud Goldschmidt, was born in Germany in 1912 and fled the Nazi regime to settle in Venezuela, where she lived until her death in 1994. Her spindly, delicate Chorro sculptures made of thin aluminum wires have been sought-after for decades—all 18 of them are here together for the first time in 40 years. dominique-levy.com
Hartmut Böhm at Bartha Contemporary, through Oct. 10, London
Born in 1938, Böhm has been for decades associated with minimalist and European Concrete Art movements (art that, generally speaking, appears geometric or potentially made by a machine). In this exhibition—his third at the gallery—he’s installed simple, repetitive artworks that grapple with mathematical systems and reflect, according to the gallery, an “increasing unease with the dogmatic nature of geometric art and German constructivism in particular.” barthacontemporary.com
Kathryn Andrews at Gladstone, through Oct. 9, Brussels
Andrews, who is based in L.A., tends toward a bright, pop-y aesthetic that grapples with consumer culture, Hollywood, and, occasionally, politics. This installation includes polished gumball machines with nude Tahitian women stamped on every piece of gum, and lounge chairs covered in beach umbrellas that have been sharpened into spears. gladstonegallery.com
Mike Kelley at Hauser & Wirth, through Oct. 24, New York
The entirety of Hauser & Wirth’s Chelsea gallery is devoted to a series of installations by the late artist Mike Kelley, all of which are part of the artist’s Kandor series, named after the birthplace of Superman. There’s a room of striking colored resin cities, a hall made up of comic book-inspired lenticular light boxes, and, in a massive room, the colossal “Exploded Fortress of Solitude,” which is accompanied by a video that “collides psychosexual and sadomasochistic drama with a repertoire of parodic cliches.” Watch it in the dimly lit gallery and feel ... something. hauserwirth.com
Sara Sze at Tanya Bonakdar, through Oct. 17, New York
Sze, an artist with strong conceptual leanings and whose work perennially falls between the cracks of sculpture and installation, has turned the downstairs of the Chelsea gallery into her studio space in an attempt to emphasize the steps between creation and presentation. Sculptures—assembled, fabricated, and arranged by Sze—are spread across both floors of the gallery in a messy (but deliberate!) installation. tanyabonakdargallery.com
Trisha Baga at Greene Naftali, through Oct. 3, New York
Baga turns her videos into room-size installations, adorning them with found objects in bright colors and weird knick-knacks; instead of standing watching a video, you're in her world. Humor is never far from the picture (or video, or painting, or performance), and this 3D video installation is no different: It includes a video where peacocks eat seed-portraits of Ellen DeGeneres and Rosie O’Donnell. greenenaftaligallery.com