Summer is tantalizingly close, and already you can feel the arrival of the best of nature’s bounty: fragrant flowers in full bloom, trees laden with lush green leaves, and parks primed for outdoor picnics and intimate gatherings.
In celebration of the arrival of warmer weather, we’ve assembled a list of five international can’t-miss shows that illuminate the wonders of summer and the natural world.
Madeline Hollander: Flatwing
Whitney Museum, New York
March 25–August 8
Artist, dancer, and choreographer Madeline Hollander’s mixed-media work has long been inspired by the natural world and how it intersects with the manmade environment. Her work comprises a series of observed patterns the artist has studied in everyday social, urban, technological, and natural environments.
Front and center of the exhibition is Hollander’s first video installation (and the show’s title work), (2019), which explores the fascinating lives and soundscapes of Kauai’s silent crickets. The video is also accompanied by drawings, diagrams, research materials, and more that give further insight into how Hollander conceived the film.
Charles Gaines: Multiples of Nature, Trees, and Faces
Hauser and Wirth, Online
Los Angeles-based artist Charles Gaines’s gridded artworks often feature his signature stacked tree forms. This exhibition (which was open until May 1 at Hauser and Wirth’s London galleries, and has now moved online) is his first solo show with the gallery, and focuses on two new bodies of Plexiglas works, plus additions to his famous “Numbers and Trees” series.
In his work, the artist (who we interviewed in February about the exhibition) confronts the lines between objective and subjective reality, navigates conversations around diversity and identity, and turns to his favored images of trees to convey complex ideas about humanity and nature. The exhibition also includes works that were inspired by Gaines’s 2020 visits to the abundant English gardens and forests of Dorset.
Kusama: Cosmic Nature
New York Botanical Garden
April 10–October 31
It’s no surprise that Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama has long turned to nature to explore her ideas around themes of self-obliteration, identity, eternity, and infinity.
So it seems fitting that Kusama’s sprawling exhibition at the New York Botanical Garden has a focus on her relationship with the planet and “reveals her lifelong fascination with the natural world,” according to the institution. The show includes a series of artworks and immersive installations that collectively bring to life her longtime engagement with the life cycles of plants and flowers.
Jean-Philippe Delhomme: Flowers for Books
April 29–May 28
Delhomme’s first exhibition in Asia is a tribute to nature indoors. It is composed of intimate paintings that examine the history of still-life painting, and features images of vases of cut flowers alongside books and magazines that examine the space between the conceptual and the actual.
Delhomme also closely assesses the transformation of flowers from living things to cultural objects once they are removed from the ground and arranged in homes for our pleasure. “We offer flowers to celebrate certain occasion; we summon their vital exuberance inside our home and subsequently cut it short,” the artist said in a statement.
Alexander Calder: Modern From the Start
MoMA, New York
March 14–August 7
The American artist Alexander Calder is best known for his multi-layered, kinetic mobiles, may of which, such as (1950) and s (1969), were inspired by nature.
On from now through August 7, this acclaimed exhibition—the artist’s first solo show at the museum since 1969—attempts to capture the breadth of his far-ranging body of work, including his paintings, photographs, stabiles, works on paper, large-scale outdoor sculpture, and more. And how fitting that the show takes place not only in MoMA’s third-floor galleries, but also in its beloved outdoor sculpture garden.