“Politically and socially, we are at the edge of another precipice. And those of us who are artists must charge into the fray, leading a charge to turn a tide.” — Mark Bradford, whose “Pickett’s Charge” will go on view at the Hirshhorn Museum on Nov. 8.
National Gallery of Art
Vermeer and the Masters of Genre Painting: Inspiration and Rivalry
Oct. 22, 2017, through Jan. 21, 2018
This landmark exhibition features 10 paintings by Johannes Vermeer, including “The Lacemaker” from the Louvre and “The Love Letter” from the Rijksmuseum. Many of these paintings have not been seen in the United States since the National Gallery’s Vermeer exhibition of 1995-96. Works by Vermeer will be juxtaposed with work by other artists of the Dutch Golden Age, including Gerard ter Borch, Gerrit Dou, Pieter de Hooch, Gabriel Metsu, Frans van Mieris, Caspar Netscher and Jan Steen.
In the Tower: Anne Truitt
Nov. 19, 2017, through April 1, 2018
This exhibition, the first major presentation at the National Gallery of the work of Anne Truitt (1921–2004), celebrates the museum’s acquisition of several major artworks by this important 20th-century artist, a link between Abstract Impressionism and Minimalism. Bringing together nine sculptures, two paintings and 12 works on paper, the show traces Truitt’s artistic development from 1961, when she made her first wood sculpture, to 2002.
Fragonard: The Fantasy Figures
Oct. 8 through Dec. 3, 2017
This revelatory exhibition brings together, for the first time, 14 of the “fantasy figures” of Jean-Honoré Fragonard (1732–1806). These rapidly executed, brightly colored paintings of lavishly costumed individuals are among Fragonard’s most beloved works. The subjects are depicted posed at leisure or employed in various pursuits — acting, reading, writing, playing instruments or singing. They are dressed in what was known in 18th-century France as “Spanish style”: plumed hats, slashed sleeves, ribbons, rosettes, ruffs, capes and accents of red and black.
Jackson Pollock’s “Mural”
Nov. 19, 2017, through Oct. 28, 2018
A special installation in the National Gallery of Art’s East Building features “Mural” (1943) by Jackson Pollock (1912–1956), on loan from the University of Iowa Museum of Art. Nearly 20 feet long, the early painting, originally commissioned by Peggy Guggenheim for her New York City townhouse, is Pollock’s largest work and represents a major turning point in the seminal artist’s career and style. Also on view are paintings and works on paper by Pollock from the museum’s collection.
Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery
IlluminAsia: A Festival of Asian Art, Food and Cultures
Saturday, Oct. 14, 2017, 5 p.m. to midnight
Sunday, Oct. 15, 2017, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
After extensive renovations to the dual museum and reinstallations of the Freer Gallery of Art’s historic and elegantly beautiful galleries, this hidden gem of the Smithsonian is set to reopen with a grand celebration. IlluminAsia is a festival of Asian art, food and cultures on the National Mall, co-presented with the Smithsonian Folklife Festival. Free and open to the public, the festival will transform the grounds with an Asian food market, interactive cooking and art demonstrations, live performances and dozens of local and international artists. Inside, visitors can experience the reimagined galleries and innovative exhibitions, as well as performances, conversations and other immersive activities.
IlluminAsia kicks off at 5 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 14. The evening program will light up the night with a sea of lanterns and light displays, stunning video projections on the Freer Gallery facade and a night market featuring Asian food stalls. The activities and museums will be open through midnight. During the day on Sunday, Oct. 15, the food market will continue alongside cultural programming for all ages, including hands-on art-making workshops, storytelling, conversations with artists and curators and international performances.
The Phillips Collection
Renoir and Friends: Luncheon of the Boating Party
Oct. 7, 2017, through Jan. 7, 2018
“Renoir and Friends” centers on the Phillips Collection’s celebrated “Luncheon of the Boating Party” (1880-81) by Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841–1919), along with the diverse circle of friends who inspired it. The first exhibition to focus on this singular masterwork in over 20 years, it comprises more than 40 carefully chosen works — paintings, drawings, pastels, watercolors and photographs from public and private collections — that reveal the story of “Luncheon of the Boating Party” and the artists and patrons who were instrumental in its creator’s success.
Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture
Garden Mark Bradford: Pickett’s Charge
Nov. 8, 2017, through Nov. 12, 2018
At the Hirshhorn, Los Angeles-based painter, video artist and installation artist Mark Bradford (b. 1961) will debut “Pickett’s Charge,” a monumental new commission inspired by French artist Paul Philippoteaux’s 19th-century cyclorama in Gettysburg National Military Park in Pennsylvania. Cutting, tearing and scraping through layers of colored paper and reproductions of the 1883 original, which depicts the final charge of the Battle of Gettysburg, Bradford collages and transforms the historic imagery into a series of eight powerful abstract paintings, each more than 45 feet long. Together, they will encircle the entire third level in a 360-degree panoramic experience. The resulting work interweaves past and present, illusion and abstraction, inviting visitors to reconsider how narratives about American history are shaped and contested.
National Museum of Women in the Arts
Magnetic Fields: Expanding American Abstraction, 1960s to Today
Oct. 13, 2017, through Jan. 21, 2018
The National Museum of Women in the Arts presents “Magnetic Fields,” featuring work by 21 artists born between 1891 and 1981. The exhibition places abstract works by multiple generations of black women artists in context with one another — and within the larger history of abstract art — for the first time. Evocative prints, unconventional sculptures and monumental paintings reveal the artists’ role as unrecognized leaders in abstraction.
Nov. 17, 2017, through Nov. 4, 2018
From Francis Scott Key, Madeleine Albright, Gertrude Jeannette and Norman Francis to Harry Callahan, Rita Moreno and Dustin Lance Black, this annual exhibition features 27 objects that tell the story of America through the art of portraiture, showcasing some of the newest additions to the National Portrait Gallery’s collection.
Murder Is Her Hobby: Frances Glessner Lee and the Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death
Oct. 20, 2017, through Jan. 28, 2018
Frances Glessner Lee (1878–1962) crafted her extraordinary “Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death” — exquisitely detailed miniature crime scenes — to train homicide investigators at Harvard’s department of legal medicine beginning in the early 1940s. The first female police captain in our country’s history, Lee is considered the godmother of forensic science. These dollhouse-sized dioramas feature handmade elements to render scenes with exacting accuracy and meticulous detail, from hand-burned miniature cigarette butts and working locks on windows and doors to the angle of miniscule bullet holes, the patterns of blood splatters and the discoloration of painted miniature corpses. In creating them, Lee not only helped revolutionize the emerging field of forensic science, but co-opted traditionally female crafts to advance the male-dominated field of police investigation and to establish herself as one of its leading voices.
National Building Museum
Making Room: Housing for a Changing America
Nov. 18, 2017, through Sept. 16, 2018
Unprecedented shifts in demographics and lifestyle have redefined American households, but the nation’s housing has simply not kept pace. Technology, the desire for smart density and environmental sustainability and demands for healthy living all cry out for 21st-century solutions. “Making Room” at the National Building Museum puts a spotlight on cutting-edge approaches, such as micro apartments in Washington, D.C., and New York City, accessory “alley flats” in Austin and shared housing in San Diego. Models, plans and images will showcase these designs and their effects on the housing market in those communities. The exhibition’s centerpiece, a full-scale flexible dwelling, will further illustrate how a small space can be adapted to meet many needs.