At Large  January 4, 2023  Rebecca Schiffman

6 Museum Exhibitions to See in 2023

The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

Judith and Holofernes by Artemisia Gentileschi (left) and Kehinde Wiley (right)

Welcome to the new year, dear readers! It’s 2023, which means a new year, a new beginning, and new art exhibitions to check out. Luckily for you, we put together a round up of the most exciting US museum exhibitions opening this year that you will definitely want to see. Read on to find out which shows made the cut!

Portrait of Courage: Gentileschi, Wiley, and the Story of Judith

The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, January 25–April 16, 2023

Continuing its national tour this month at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, is Portrait of Courage: Gentileschi, Wiley, and the Story of Judith, which places two paintings of Judith and Holofernes in dialogue with one another. Though created by two vastly different artists spread across time and culture, the comparison reveals shared narratives and ideas. Over the centuries, the story of Judith and Holofernes has remained an influence to artists who have interpreted Judith as a virtuous young woman, a seductive femme fatale, and a brave heroine. This exhibition addresses all of these tropes along with timeless issues of gender, race, violence, oppression, and social power.

Courtesy the artist and Gladstone Gallery. © Wangechi Mutu

Wangechi Mutu, In Two Canoe, 2022. Bronze, 180 × 68 × 72 in (457.2 × 172.7 × 182.9 cm).


Wangechi Mutu: Intertwined

New Museum, New York, March 2–June 4, 2023

Kenyan-born American artist, Wangechi Mutu will open a solo exhibition at the New Museum in March. Mutu’s work is continually surprising and otherworldly in the way it deals with the female body. Her creations of paintings, drawings, and sculptures are bodies that are part human, part plant, and part animal. Mutu samples from a variety of sources – from fashion magazines, medical diagrams and traditional African arts to form new ideas of feminism, Afrofuturism, and interspecies symbiosis.

Link to exhibition

Courtesy MFA Boston

Left: John Cederquist, How to Wrap Five Waves (detail), 1994–95. Right: Katsushika Hokusai, Under the Wave off Kanagawa (Kanagawa-oki nami-ura), about 1830–31 Woodblock print (nishiki-e); ink and color on paper. William Sturgis Bigelow Collection.

Hokusai: Inspiration and Influence

The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, March 26-July 16, 2023

Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849), Japanese ukiyo-e artist is known for his painting and printmaking practice. He is best known for the woodblock series, Thirty-Six Views of Mount Fuji, which includes the iconic print seen far and wide, The Great Wave off Kanagawa. This exhibition takes a new approach to his work, exploring in detail in impact on other artists–both during his lifetime and to the present. The exhibition at MFA Boston, Hokusai: Inspiration and Influence, brings together over ninety works by Hokusai along with 200 works by his teachers, students, rivals and admirers. 

Link to exhibition

Courtesy the artist, Matthew Marks Gallery, and ICA Boston. Photo: Timothy Schenck.

Simone Leigh, Jug, 2022. Glazed stoneware.

Simone Leigh

ICA Boston, April 6-September 4, 2023

After Simone Leigh’s massively successful pavilion at the Venice Biennale and Golden Lion win, she heads to Boston to debut her first comprehensive survey exhibition. This survey show will open at the ICA Boston and travel to the Hirshhorn Museum in DC, LACMA in Los Angeles, and end in 2025 at the California African American Museum in Los Angeles. The exhibition will show twenty years of Leigh’s practice in ceramic, bronze, video, and installation. For those who were unable to attend the Biennale, fear not – this exhibition will feature works from the Venice presentation. We love Leigh’s work for its focus on situating question of Black femme subjectivity at the center of contemporary art discourse and cannot wait to see what this exhibition holds.

Link to exhibition

© Hayv Kahraman, photo © Museum Associates/LACMA

Hayv Kahraman, Search, 2016, Los Angeles County Museum of Art

Women Defining Women in Contemporary Art of the Middle East and Beyond

LACMA, Los Angeles, April 23–September 24, 2023

Women artists are the subject of a powerful spring exhibition in Los Angeles that will show seventy-five artworks by women artists who were born or live in Islamic societies. The works show that these artists are not as voiceless or invisible as society makes them out to be. In fact, these women artists share important narratives of rapidly shifting political developments and social transformations taking place in the lands they live in - Africa, Western and Central Asia, and in diasporic communities around the world. Embedded in their art is a common sense of identity – not exclusively “Middle Eastern,” but certainly female. 

Link to exhibition

Courtesy Cleveland Museum of Art

Die Büglerin, c. 1869. Edgar Degas (French, 1834–1917). Oil on canvas; 92.5 x 73.5 cm. Neue Pinakothek München, Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen, 14310

Degas and the Laundress: Women, Work, and Impressionism in Late Nineteenth Century Paris

Cleveland Museum of Art, October 8, 2023 - January 14, 2024

Famed Impressionist painter, Edgar Degas is known for his portraits of Parisian life - from scenes at the ballet, to cafes, to the streets of Paris. But for the first time ever, the Cleveland Museum of Art will put together a collection of Degas’s representations of Parisian laundresses. These working class-women were a visible presence in the city, doing the physical labor of washing, ironing, and carrying heavy baskets of clothing. These portrayals of laundresses are contemporary and revolutionary in their emphasis on women’s work and the strenuousness of the social class they were a part of. In addition to the thirty depictions of laundresses, united for the first time in this exhibition, the show will also include similar works by the artist’s contemporaries. 

Link to exhibition

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