As the fog of the holidays lifts, the visual art scene picks up steam. January ushers in a more bustling schedule of things to do and see. That’s good, since you’ll probably want to work off some of those extra pounds you put on while not looking at art last month. How many calories can you burn walking through a museum? More than you think.
With three floors, the Smithsonian American Art Museum is a lot more fun to traverse than a Stairmaster. On Jan. 20, the museum unveils a new show by photographer Annie Leibovitz. Called “Pilgrimage,” the globe-trotting exhibition is a change of pace for the celebrity portraitist. Its more than 70 works, focusing on sites such as Niagara Falls, are in a less staged, more personal vein than we’re used to seeing.
You’ll find more art tips after the jump.
In other photography news, the National Museum of Natural History opens “The Beautiful Time” on Jan. 7. The exhibition, a rare art show for the museum, uses photos and collages by Congolese photographer Sammy Baloji to investigate changes in that country’s copper-mining industry. Julia Child fans: Mark your calendar for Jan. 8. That’s when the National Museum of American History closes its long-term exhibition built around a reconstruction of her Cambridge, Mass., kitchen. It’s going off view until late summer, when a new installation of Child’s kitchen will open as part of a show about American food and wine.
London-based conceptualist Michael Craig-Martin isn’t as much of a household name this side of the Atlantic as he is in England, where he’s known for having taught many of today’s hottest British artists. But if you aren’t familiar with his cleanly graphic, unexpectedly rich large-scale drawings of everyday objects, you’ll want to check out “Michael Craig-Martin: Drawings,” opening Jan. 11 at the George Washington University’s Luther W. Brady Gallery.
On Jan. 12, “Fears and Phobias” opens at the Target Gallery. The group show, which features 21 artists from across the country — and their takes on terror — promises to be timely, if not intense.
On Jan.13, the Washington Project for the Arts opens “Lines and Shadows.” The show honors Dan Tulk, a talented emerging artist who was killed in a traffic accident in November and who was known for sculptural installations involving such elements as strings and nails. Tulk’s work is less about material than about the delicate play of light on his temporary constructions.
On Jan. 14, Hemphill Fine Arts hosts an opening reception for “Franz Jantzen: Ostinato.” The photographer’s work — made by digitally stitching hundreds of highly detailed photos together into an impossible but plausible whole — is truly amazing.
Whew. That’s a busy few days there. You can take a load off your feet later in the month at a couple of free, art-related documentaries. On Jan. 21, the Workhouse Arts Center shows “Women Art Revolution,” a 2010 film about the history of feminist art. On Jan. 26, the Phillips Collection screens “Herb and Dorothy,” a 2008 doc that tells the story of quirky New York art collectors Herb and Dorothy Vogel, a postal worker and his librarian wife who plowed almost all of their discretionary income into what has turned into one of the most esteemed collections of conceptual art.