A PERFECT BEAUTY: MIES VAN DER ROHE REVISITED
New York Mies in Berlin Museum of Modern Art (June 21—Sept. 11) and Mies in America Whitney Museum of American Art (June 21—Sept. 23). A double-sided view of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe's visionary architecture. MOMA examines his early work in Berlin and its debt to Schinkel's Neoclassicism; the Whitney demonstrates how Mies welded Bauhaus concepts to American industrialism — and gave birth to the glass-and-steel skyscraper.
Guggenheim Museum (May 18—Aug. 26). Fellow architect Philip Johnson called Gehry's titanium Guggenheim in Bilbao the greatest piece of architecture of the 20th century. Gehry's improbable buildings have also been called "essays in primal geometric form." Far from primal, his complex ribboning structures balance on the edge of impossibility. Here, the breadth and evolution of his hyperbolic vision are revealed.
ROOMS WITH A VIEW
Cooper-Hewitt Museum (through Oct. 14). A grand tour of the 300-year history of landscape wallpaper: from the idealized pastoral scenes of the 18th century and the scenic papers of the 19th, to the Arts and Crafts designs, Bauhaus patterns, and suburban landscapes that covered 20th-century walls.
GALLERY A-GO-GO TOKYO BRANCHES OUT
Despite economic doldrums, there are signs of life in Tokyo's contemporary art scene. The advertising firm of Saatchi & Saatchi recently opened a gallery in its corporate headquarters. In past months, self-styled shaman Jun Fukawa worked and exhibited in situ, and an artist duo that operate under the name of Electric showed their illustrations and collages, influenced by Japanese cartoons, or manga. Also shaking things up are two blue-chip gallery owners, Atsuko Koynagi and Shugo Satani, who have opened the Rice Gallery in a space formerly occupied by the avant-garde Sagacho Exhibit Space. Upcoming shows?Yasumasa Morimura, known for his witty photographic riffs on famous paintings (Manet's Odalisque never looked like this), and Rei Naito, who creates subtly seductive installations out of such humble materials as seeds and twigs.
REMEMBRANCE OF THINGS PAST
Chinese director Zhang Yimou (Raise the Red Lantern) is famous for his lush historical dramas. But his latest movie, The Road Home, begins in wintry black-and-white, with a businessman returning to his native village to arrange for the funeral of his father, the town schoolteacher. As the man recalls the circumstances of his parents' courtship in the early years of Mao's revolution, the past returns in luminous color. This clear-eyed yet deeply moving film evokes the pull of tradition amid the radical changes of today's China.
RAISING THE ROOF IN TEXAS
A Quaker meetinghouse in a modest Houston suburb is the unlikely site of an ingenious piece by artist James Turrell, who is also a Quaker. Turrell has been working with light since the late sixties (his Roden Crater, begun in 1972 in the Arizona desert, is still a work in progress). Skyspace — a 12-foot square opening in the meetinghouse's barrel-like ceiling — transforms the sky into an intensely blue "canvas," which then appears to lower into the room. The effect is mesmerizing, especially at sunset. This elegant building, designed by architect Leslie Elkins, is open to the public Friday evenings. Live Oak Friends Meeting House, 1318 W. 26th St., Houston; 713/862-6685.
North Adams, Mass.
GAME SHOW Mass MOCA (May 27—April 2002). Notions of chance and play (verbal and visual) have intrigued artists since Marcel Duchamp. This enormous exhibition explores the ways in which contemporary artists bend the rules of the game.
H. C. WESTERMANN Museum of Contemporary Art (June 30—Sept. 23). Westermann's first major retrospective since 1979. With his mix of sculptural techniques and tough-guy allusions, the former marine forged an art that recalled a wartime past but spoke to the future.
THE ARCHITECTURE AND DESIGN OF ROBERT VENTURI, DENISE SCOTT BROWN, AND ASSOCIATES Philadelphia Museum of Art (June 10—Aug. 5). The aesthetic of Philly's husband-and-wife architectural team drew inspiration from roadside attractions, laid the foundations for postmodernism, and gave us permission to love Las Vegas.