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New England’s most fascinating museum shows for fall

“Daniela Rivera: Labored Landscapes (Where Hand Meets Ground)” is at Fitchburg Art Museum.Charles Sternailmolo


S ANFORD BIGGERS This eponymous exhibition brings works from Biggers’s sadly-ongoing BAM series — sadly, because it eulogizes unarmed black victims of police gun violence, and ongoing for reasons that should be obvious. This is stern stuff: Biggers took African sculptures to a shooting range, shot them full of bullets, and recast the remains in bronze — creating permanent monuments to violent acts. Through Dec. 15. Tufts University Art Gallery, 40 Talbot Ave., Medford. 617-627-3518,

ALICJA KWADE: IN BETWEEN GLANCES Fresh off a yearlong commission for the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s rooftop, Berlin-based sculptor Kwade brings her playful, monumental modernism to Cambridge with a new solo show. Oct. 18-Jan. 5. MIT List Visual Arts Center, 20 Ames St., Cambridge. 617-253-4680,


HOMER AT THE BEACH: A MARINE PAINTER’S JOURNEY Winslow Homer was an enigma of an artist — a “hermit with a brush,” he was once called — whose sunny seaside scenes bore an air of pervasive dread. No one painted the icy blue-green of the Atlantic coast quite like Homer, and this exhibition of more than 50 works will show you how. Through Dec. 1. Cape Ann Museum, 27 Pleasant St., Gloucester.

GORDON MATTA CLARK: ANARCHITECT Gordon Matta-Clark sliced houses in two and bored bus-size holes in derelict apartment buildings several stories up, highlighting late-20th-century society’s wasteful ways regarding, well, everything, from gas guzzlers all the way up to building stock. Matta Clark’s inference — that everything is temporary, and disposable — first made in the ’70s, now feels like the proverbial canary in a coal mine, with a planet poised at the edge of ruin. Are we ready to listen yet? Through Jan. 5. Rose Art Museum, Brandeis University, 415 South St., Waltham. 781-736-3434,


HYMAN BLOOM: MATTERS OF LIFE AND DEATH Please don’t miss this long-overdue survey of the work of Hyman Bloom, a Boston painter whose visceral images of bodies post-autopsy and denuded trees left him on the outs of a mid-century movement toward gestural abstraction. It’s an important recovery effort, with no apologies necessary. The work speaks, and loudly, for itself. Through Feb. 23. Museum of Fine Arts, 465 Huntington Ave. 617-267-9300,

DANIELA RIVERA: LABORED LANDSCAPES (WHERE HAND MEETS GROUND) This year’s winner of the Rappaport Prize, a $25,000 honor given annually by the deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum, Rivera has a coincident solo exhibition now open in Fitchburg. Rivera, who teaches at Wellesley College, examines the scars labor leaves on the land, the body, and the psyche through her paintings of miners’ hands and torsos. Through Jan. 12. Fitchburg Art Museum, 185 Elm St., Fitchburg. 978-345-4207,

ERRE: THEM AND US The Mexican-American artist ERRE built a border wall at Mass MoCA for his new exhibition, “Them and Us.” Any questions? There should be plenty, and the artist offers much food for thought with a nuanced satire on the increasingly common brutality of division. At Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, North Adams, through summer 2021. 413-662-2111,

WOMEN TAKE THE FLOOR You never heard of plenty of the 100-some artists here, all of them women, and with good reason. The MFA, like most museums, has been under-representing women for decades. This is its clean break, an apology, and a “no more.” By the end of its 18-month run, the show hopes to leave no one asking where the museum now stands. Through May 3, 2021. Museum of Fine Arts, 465 Huntington Ave. 617-267-9300,



WILLIAM WEGMAN: OUTSIDE IN There’s more than Weimaraners to the oeuvre of William Wegman, absurdly famous though those works may be. This show deepens his connections to an early conceptual scene — but yes, there are dogs, too. Through Oct. 20. Shelburne Museum, 6000 Shelburne Road, Shelburne, Vt. 802-985-3346,

RESIST! INSIST! PERSIST! A show about activism in art that stretches from Francisco Goya to Kara Walker, this show at the University of Vermont feels in tune with the times, where everything is political and no one has the luxury of sitting it out. Through Dec. 13, Fleming Museum of Art, University of Vermont, 61 Colchester Ave., Burlington, Vt. Through May 10. 802-656-3131,


PORTRAIT OF THE ARTIST AS AN INDIAN/PORTRAIT OF THE INDIAN AS AN ARTIST Opened with the Hood’s wholesale redux — the museum was closed for three years — this exhibition reestablishes and strengthens the museum’s commitment to Native American art, with a contemporary/historical mash-up that questions indigenous representation, from viewer to viewed. Through Feb. 20, 2020. At the Hood Museum, Dartmouth College, 6 East Wheelock St., Hanover, N.H. 603-646-2808,


N.C. WYETH: NEW PERSPECTIVES The Portland Museum of Art calls it “a long overdue assessment” of Wyeth’s career, which already sounds like an apology. We can’t ascribe to the father the talent of the son — Andrew, whose chilling scenes of American life stand alongside Edward Hopper’s as among the most enduring we have — but we certainly can examine the lineage a little more closely. Through Jan. 12. At the Portland Museum of Art, 7 Congress Square, Portland, Maine. 207-775-6148,


PEGGY WEIL: 88 CORES This 4½-hour video drops through 2 vertical miles of continuous Greenland sheet ice in a single pan, passing through 110,000 years of history along the way. That history is evaporating right before our eyes, as Weil’s project makes plain. If she made the work again in 10 years, how much shorter would the journey be? Through Dec. 8. At the Colby Museum of Art, 5600 Mayflower Hill Drive, Waterville, Maine. 207-859-5600,


MIGRATING WORLDS: THE ART OF THE MOVING IMAGE IN BRITAIN With Harvard Art Museums and the ICA both hosting migration-themed shows, this one joins a chorus of voices singing plaintively about one of the two key crises of our times. The show features works by artists such as Isaac Julien and Rosalind Nashashibi. Through Dec. 29, Yale Center for British Art, 1080 Chapel St., New Haven. 877-274-8278,

J.M.W. TURNER: WATERCOLORS FROM TATE If you’re one of those who can’t get enough J.M.W. Turner, this show will keep you sated, at least for a while. Turner’s watercolors have a particular magic, and this show has 97 of them, hand-picked by the Tate’s Turner curator himself. Through Feb. 23. Mystic Seaport Museum, 75 Greenmanville Ave., Mystic, Conn. 860-572-0711,



RAID THE ICEBOX NOW In 1970, the Rhode Island School of Design Museum invited Andy Warhol to rifle through its collection and put whatever he wanted in the galleries. He did — most of it left unhung, leaning in layers on the floor against the wall. Warhol undermined the unquestioned preciousness of historical collections in general. This revival, so to speak, has a number of artists dismantling traditional master narratives for our increasingly fluid and voluble times. Through Nov. 1, 2020, RISD Museum, 20 North Main St., Providence. 401-454-6500,

Murray Whyte

Murray Whyte can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @TheMurrayWhyte