On View Now: Simone Leigh at ICA Boston, Isa Genzken at the Neue Nationalgalerie and More

Summer may be winding down but the world is heating up. Since we’d all prefer to be somewhere air-conditioned, why not take in some art while you’re cooling off?

Now’s the time to finally see the exhibitions you’ve been hoping to catch all summer, and ones like Lauren Halsey’s takeover of the Met’s rooftop are worth braving the still-blazing sun. Here, we present a list of the gallery and museum highlights you should fit in before mid-September’s packed opening season kicks off.

The Roof Garden Commission: Lauren Halsey at the Metropolitan Museum of Art 

A rooftop art installtion on a sunny day
Installation view of The Roof Garden Commission: Lauren Halsey, the east side of south central los angeles hieroglyph prototype architecture (I), 2022. © Lauren Halsey. Courtesy of the artist; David Kordansky Gallery, Los Angeles/NewYork. Image credit: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Photo by Hyla Skopitz

When I made the trek uptown to visit the Met’s Karl Lagerfeld and Van Gogh cypress shows, I was disappointed to find both were at capacity through the rest of the day. Finally heading up to Lauren Halsey’s long-awaited rooftop takeover—delayed for more than a year due to logistical issues—made it all worth it. “I’m a maximalist,” Halsey told the New York Times of the postponement of the “large and ambitious project” in the spring of 2022. She wasn’t kidding: The Los Angeles-based artist managed to construct something of a monument. The installation is equal parts Halsey’s South Central L.A. hometown and ancient Egypt, featuring a four-columned structure decorated with modern-day hieroglyphics and sphinx sculptures of her family members.

Isa Genzken: 75/75 at the Neue Nationalgalerie

A statue of a woman wearing a mask and long jacket
Isa Genzken, ‘Schauspieler’, 2013. Courtesy Galerie Buchholz/VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2023

Celebrate Isa Genzken’s 75th birthday with a survey of 75 of her career-defining works at Neue Nationalgalerie in Berlin. Its director, Klaus Biesenbach, encountered artist after artist who took the German sculptor as inspiration in his noted capacity as director of MoMA PS1, making him well-equipped to both encapsulate and contextualize Genzken’s work—with an assist from the institution’s Lisa Botti, who co-curated the showing. Marvel at one of the artist’s signature monumental roses outdoors, then head inside for a survey of sculptures to be taken in at every angle. In fact, per Genzken’s intention, consider them instead as moving images.

Rachel Feinstein in Florence

"Rachel Feinstein In Florence" Exhibition Preview
General view of the exhibition preview of “Rachel Feinstein In Florence” at Marino Marini Museum. Photo by Roberto Serra - Iguana Press/Getty Images

Renaissance-era art can be found all across Florence—and this summer, the hordes of tourists who flock there to see it can do so in a new light. Palazzo Medici Riccardi, Museo Marino Marini and Museo Stefano Bardini have welcomed Rachel Feinstein into their permanent collections, and what makes for the American artist’s second career survey illustrates how she’s long drawn on centuries past. The chance to encounter a Donatello (Feinstein’s “absolute king”) in the same exhibition as a twisted, larger-than-life sculpture of a Victoria’s Secret Angel lasts through September 18.

Africa Fashion at the Brooklyn Museum

An installation view of a fashion exhibit
Installation view, Africa Fashion. Brooklyn Museum, June 23–October 22, 2023. Photo: Danny Perez

Between its blockbuster appreciations of the late Virgil Abloh and Thierry Mugler, the Brooklyn Museum has been on a roll with its fashion-themed exhibitions. That’s in part because the institution took care to contextualize textiles outside of the insular industry. It’s done so to even greater effect with Africa Fashion, which incorporates politics, art and culture into its display of 40 designers and artists across 20 African countries. On view through October 22, the end result has impressed critics and then some; Hilton Als described it as a “vital and necessary” exhibition in the New Yorker. 

Closing soon: Simone Leigh at ICA Boston

A sculpture of a girl
Simone Leigh, ‘Last Garment’, 2022. Installation view, Simone Leigh, the Institute of
Contemporary Art/Boston, 2023. Courtesy the artist and Matthew Marks Gallery. Photo by Timothy Schenck. © Simone Leigh.

Simone Leigh made history when she became the first Black woman to represent the U.S. at the Venice Biennale. The display of bronze sculptures she exhibited was a triumph—and there are a few days left to see it for yourself at Boston’s Institute of Contemporary Art, which has taken care to evoke the layout of the U.S. Pavilion through September 4. But that’s only about a third of the show. Those only familiar with her bronze, ceramic and raffia sculptures would do well to take in lesser-known works such as those in video format, demonstrating Leigh’s adeptness at examining Black female subjectivity across mediums.

On View Now: Simone Leigh at ICA Boston, Isa Genzken at the Neue Nationalgalerie and More