“Matisse’s Dancers,” Baltimore Museum of Art, Nov. 14 through Feb. 24
Made between 1909 and 1949, the more than 30 prints, drawings and sculptures in this survey manifest Matisse’s perpetual fascination with dance and dancers. The crux of the show is a rarely seen series of 11 lithographs that follow a dancer’s or acrobat’s moves through various positions, gradually becoming an abstract portrayal of form and motion. These elegant prints, designed in 1931-32 but published only after Matisse’s death, are considered some of the most direct representations of the artist’s vision. The exhibition’s scope is widened by the inclusion of two sculptures by Auguste Rodin and Edgar Degas, who shared Matisse’s affinity for dance.
“Race: Are We So Different?” Maryland Science Center, through Jan. 1
This show examines the physical differences among various people, which are much fewer than the similarities. It also considers the history of racial distinctions, and the way that laws, traditions and institutions established arbitrary definitions of “white” and “black,” “Western” and “Oriental.” The exhibits chart the role of racial assumptions in the early development of this country, and examine the latest science. Expanded knowledge of the human genome, the show’s curators note, reveals that “no one gene, or any set of genes, can support the idea of race.”
“Revealing the African Presence in Renaissance Europe,” Walters Art Museum, Sunday through Jan. 21
Although European explorers barely entered Africa’s interior until the 19th century, traders were visiting the coasts by the early 1500s. These 75 works demonstrate how Renaissance artists, inspired by both myth and reality, began depicting Africans. Some of the people shown were slaves, but there are also merchants, scholars and diplomats, as well as such religious figures as St. Benedict of Palermo (the Moor), commemorated by a polychrome statue. Some of the pieces are from the Walters, but others are from such venerable museums as Florence’s Uffizi and Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum.
“Regarding Warhol: Sixty Artists, Fifty Years,” Metropolitan Museum of Art, through Dec. 31
Andy Warhol’s greatness is not universally accepted, but his influence cannot be denied. The core of this show, which has drawn mixed reviews, is almost 50 works by the man who transformed modern art with repeated (and mechanically reproduced) images of Marilyn and Mao, cows and cans. There are roughly 100 other pieces by 59 of the high-profile artists who followed Warhol’s example, including Barbara Kruger, Bruce Nauman, Gerhard Richter, Cindy Sherman and, of course, Jeff Koons. Also included are a few of Warhol’s films, which for all their blankness sometimes reveal more of the artist’s sensibility than his paintings.