Art and the City: New, Comprehensive and Improved

Rubell Museum – February James. The Color of Sound, 2021. Watercolor, ink, sharpie, oil pastel, oil stick, and charcoal on canvas 73 3/4 x 78 in. (187.3 x 198.1 cm). acquired in 2021. Courtesy Rubell Museum.

Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden
Simone Leigh
November 3, 2023 through March 3, 2024

The Hirshhorn Museum will host the first comprehensive museum survey of the work of celebrated artist Simone Leigh. The exhibition follows her representation of the United States at the 59th International Art Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia, where she garnered significant acclaim through a commission by the Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston (ICA). The exhibition, curated in tandem with her Venice presentation, will not only showcase works from that landmark event but also debut three new bronze sculptures.

Hirshorn – Simone Leigh, “Herm” (2023). Bronze, 98 x 30 x 28 inches (249 x 76 x 71 cm). ©Simone Leigh, Courtesy Matthew Marks Gallery. Photo: Timothy Schenck.

Simone Leigh’s art focuses on Black femme subjectivity in contemporary art discourse, spanning sculpture, video, installation, and social practice. She delves into issues of race, beauty, and community, drawing inspiration from diverse historical periods, geographies, and traditions. The exhibition will feature a range of materials, including ceramic, bronze, and raffia, highlighting Leigh’s fluency in these mediums. Her ceramic works, both intimate and large-scale, draw inspiration from traditions in the American South, the Caribbean, and the African continent. Additionally, the artist will introduce three new sculptures: “Bisi” (2023), “Herm” (2023), and “Vessel” (2023), which focus on the Black female form across various materials and historical periods. Independence Ave and 7th St SW. Open 10:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. daily. 202-633-1000

National Museum of
Women in the Arts (NMWA)

National Museum of Women in the Arts (NMWA) reopened on October 21, 2023, following an extensive two-year renovation. The renovation has rejuvenated the museum’s historic 1908 Classical Revival building, preserving its iconic features while making substantial improvements to the facade, interior spaces, and infrastructure. Notably, the inaugural exhibitions and remixed collection installation introduce fresh perspectives, with nearly 40% of the works displayed at NMWA for the first time.

“The Sky’s the Limit” presents contemporary sculptures and immersive installations by 13 artists from around the world, offering a rare survey of large-scale work by women from the last two decades. Two focus exhibitions, “Hung Liu: Making History” and “Impressive: Antoinette Bouzonnet-Stella,” provide a closer look at the works of renowned artists from different periods. “Remix: The Collection” offers thematic and thought-provoking combinations of works from NMWA’s extensive collection, creating engaging sightlines between pieces.

As the museum unveils its new Learning Commons and research center, the “Holding Ground: Artists’ Books for the National Museum of Women in the Arts” exhibition showcases works by book artists inspired by NMWA’s mission. The “In Focus: Artists at Work” exhibition profiles women artists in NMWA’s collection through commissioned videos.

NMWA – Installation view of Mariah Robertson’s “9” (2011), featured in “The Sky’s the Limit” at the National Museum of Women in the Arts; Photo: Jennifer Hughes, courtesy of NMWA.

As these exhibitions demonstrate, NMWA remains unwavering in its commitment to championing women artists and addressing the gender imbalance in the art world, promoting change and offering a space for thought leadership and community engagement. 1250 New York Ave. NW. 202-783-5000. Ticketed entry required.

Phillips Collection – The Rothko Room
October 18, 2023, through March 31, 2024

The Phillips Collection has unveiled a transformation of its celebrated Rothko Room, providing a unique opportunity for visitors to encounter new artworks in this revered space. In a rare move, three of the original Mark Rothko paintings that have adorned the Rothko Room for over two decades are set to embark on a journey to the Fondation Louis Vuitton in Paris. To fill this void, the Phillips Collection has displayed three other Rothko artworks, on loan from Kate Rothko Prizel and Christopher Rothko, the artist’s children. This temporary reimagining of the Rothko Room will be open for viewing through March 31, 2024.

Three iconic abstract paintings by Rothko from the 1950s, specifically “Untitled (Yellow, Pink, Yellow on Light Pink)” (1955), “No. 14” (1951), and “No. 12” (1951), will temporarily replace three paintings originally acquired by the museum’s founder, Duncan Phillips. These three original paintings will be featured in the major Mark Rothko retrospective at the Fondation Louis Vuitton through April 2, 2024, in a room designed to emulate the chapel-like ambiance of the Phillips Rothko Room.

The Rothko Room at The Phillips Collection, established in 1960, has remained virtually unchanged in scale and character since its inception. Duncan Phillips, who regarded Rothko as one of the greatest contemporary American artists of his time, believed that Rothko’s paintings possessed a transformative magic that enveloped viewers, evoking profound emotions and a sense of greatness. This visionary approach continues to define the Rothko Room, emphasizing the enduring influence of Rothko’s art on the history of modern and contemporary art.  1600 21st Street, NW, Washington, DC. Tue.-Sun., 11 a.m.-6 p.m.; closed Mondays. 202-387-2151. Ticketed entry required.

Rubell Museum

“Singular Views: 25 Artists” and “Alexandre Diop: Jooba Jubba, l’Art du Defi, the Art of Challenge,”

The Rubell Museum DC opens two exhibitions on November 2 as part of a comprehensive museum-wide reinstallation. “Singular Views: 25 Artists” showcases the work of 25 contemporary artists from the United States and around the world through individual presentations. In this exhibition, over 120 artworks spanning various media will be on display, featuring renowned artists such as Amoako Boafo, Mickalene Thomas, and Hank Willis Thomas. Additionally, it includes the work of several talented artists from the DC and Baltimore areas, including February James, Murjoni Merriweather, Rozeal, Sylvia Snowden, and John Waters.

Concurrently, the museum will host “Alexandre Diop: Jooba Jubba, l’Art du Defi, the Art of Challenge,” which highlights the Franco-Senegalese Vienna-based artist Alexandre Diop. Diop’s work delves into the legacies of colonialism and diaspora, addressing universal themes of ancestry, suffering, and historical violence. The exhibition features pieces created during his 2022 residency at the Rubell Museum, accompanied by a catalog containing an essay by scholar Mara Niang and a conversation between Diop and Hans Ulrich Obrist, along with a selection of color photographs.

A 288-page catalog, “Collection Highlights and Artist Writings,” accompanies the exhibitions, reflecting collector and museum co-founder Mera Rubell’s vision of presenting artists whose work addresses contemporary ideas and introducing new talents to the DC cultural scene. Each artist’s work is showcased in focused solo exhibitions, offering deeper insights into their practices.  65 I Street SW. Open Daily. Free admission for DC Residents. 202-964-8254.

Phil Hutinet is the founding publisher of East City Art, DC’s visual art journal of record. For more information visit