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10 must-see art exhibitions this season

From ‘To Begin Again: Artists and Childhood’ at the ICA to ‘Louise Nevelson: Dawn to Dusk’ in Rockland, Maine

"Lisa Reihana," In Pursuit of Venus [infected]," 2015-17 video still. Courtesy the artist.Lisa Reihana/Courtesy the artist

LISA REIHANA: IN PURSUIT OF VENUS [INFECTED] Reihana’s huge panoramic video installation, based on 19th-century French wallpaper romanticizing that country’s South Pacific conquests, has been a sensation since its showing at the Venice Biennale in 2017, representing New Zealand, and with good reason: Reihana, who is Maori, takes a decorative scene of colonial idyll and sets it in motion from the Indigenous point of view, revealing blithe exclusions of dominance and violence. Sept. 15 to Dec. 18. Davis Museum at Wellesley College, 106 Central St., Wellesley. www.wellesley.edu/davismuseum, 781-283-2051

DARE TO KNOW: PRINTS AND DRAWINGS IN THE AGE OF ENLIGHTENMENT The 18th century was an era of profound change, as rapid advancement in science and global exploration broadened long-held boundaries of reality and wobbled western notions of a world guided by the invisible hand of God. This show of 150 drawings, prints, books, and other objects spotlights the social transformation of the era, broadly known as the Enlightenment, and puts on view a transformational moment of the world expanding intellectually and culturally in every direction. Sept. 16 to Jan. 15. Harvard Art Museums, 32 Quincy St., Cambridge. www.harvardartmuseums.org, 617-495-9400


MARKING TIME: ART IN THE AGE OF MASS INCARCERATION The American carceral system has long been a realm of inquiry for contemporary artists with a mind toward social justice. This exhibition pairs works of that nature with pieces made by inmates within the US prison system to provide, as the show’s text describes, a view into “how punitive governance, predatory policing, surveillance, and mass imprisonment impact everyday life for many millions of people.” Sept. 16 to Dec. 18. David Winton Bell Gallery at Brown University, 64 College St., Providence. www.brown.edu/campus-life/arts/bell-gallery, 401-863-2932

Deborah Roberts, "Sisterly Love," 2021. Deborah Roberts and Vielmetter, Los Angeles. © Deborah Roberts

THE HILTON ALS SERIES: NJIDEKA AKUNYILI CROSBY The last in a three-part series of exhibitions curated by New Yorker magazine theater critic Hilton Als, this installment provides a showcase for the artist’s ongoing portrait series “The Beautyful Ones,” of Nigerian children, some from Crosby’s own family. The title references the 1968 novel “The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born,” by Ghanaian author Ayi Kwei Armah Quiet, a rumination on the failed promise of African independence in the 1960s and ‘70s. Quiet, brooding, and beautiful, Crosby’s work recalls her own experience growing up in Nigeria and later immigrating to the United States for her education, and the rift between the two worlds in which she continues to live. Sept. 22 to Jan. 22. Yale Center for British Art, 1080 Chapel St., New Haven. britishart.yale.edu, 877-274-8278


LOUISE NEVELSON: DAWN TO DUSK It’s hard to imagine Nevelson, by the end of her life the epitome of the New York high-culture grande dame, as a small-town girl in Rockland, Maine, which during her childhood in the early 1900s was a rough and distant nowhere clinging to the coast. Thirty-four years after her death, thanks to the artist’s own largesse, the Farnsworth has the second biggest Nevelson collection in the country after the Whitney Museum of American Art. This exhibition is a showcase of the span of her career, from her earliest works to the ones that brought her enduring fame. Sept. 23 to Dec. 31, 2025. Farnsworth Art Museum, 16 Museum St., Rockland, Maine. www.farnsworthmuseum.org, 207-596-6457

TO BEGIN AGAIN: ARTISTS AND CHILDHOOD Whether you have them or not, kids are always and inevitably about one thing: the future. And for all the nurturing we provide them, whether in the close quarters of family or the broader societal context of the education system, the notion of childhood necessarily teeters between optimism and anxiety. This show takes that delicate balance on board with the understanding that childhood is the foundation on which all society is built, and the need to tip the balance in the right direction. Oct. 6 to Feb 26. Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, 25 Harbor Shore Drive. www.icaboston.org, 617-478-3100


Simone Martini, "Virgin and Child with Saints," about 1320. (Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston) Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston

NEW FORMATIONS A selection of contemporary photography, video, and painting, this show explores the human body in strenuous performance, whether in dance or athletic competition, revealing it to be an instrument as powerful, delicate, blunt, and nuanced as any in an artist’s repertoire. Paired with a collection of anonymous snapshots of what we now call “vernacular” photography — parades, impromptu dance parties, human pyramids on the beach — “New Formations” suggests a tool with limitless expressive potential. Oct. 6 to March 13. DeCordova Sculpture Park and Museum. 51 Sandy Pond Road, Lincoln. 617-542-7696, thetrustees.org/place/decordova

METAL OF HONOR: GOLD FROM SIMONE MARTINI TO CONTEMPORARY ART Two rare works by the early Renaissance painter Simone Martini from the Gardner Museum collection form the basis of this exhibition, which connects artists across centuries through a shared fascination with the symbolic power of gold. Martini’s two works from the Gardner’s collection, including its monumental five-panel altarpiece “Virgin and Child With Saints,” circa 1320, will be joined by four loans from other institutions, as well as pieces by contemporary artists Titus Kaphar, Kehinde Wiley, and Stacey Lynn Waddell. Oct. 13 to Jan. 16. Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, 25 Evans Way. www.gardnermuseum.org, 617-566-1401


Frank Bowling, "Middle Passage," 1970. © Frank Bowling. All rights reserved, DACS, London & ARS, New York 2022. Courtesy Museum of Fine Arts, Boston Image by Adam Neese/© Frank Bowling. All rights reserved, DACS, London & ARS, New York 2022/Courtesy Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

FRANK BOWLING’S AMERICAS Bowling was born in British Guiana and went to university in London, but found his painterly voice in the tumult of 1960s and ‘70s New York, where a rising Black Power movement ran parallel to the convulsions of late Modernism. Following up on its landmark exhibition “Philip Guston Now,” this survey of Bowling’s work at the Museum of Fine Arts further broadens the traditionally narrow parameters of late Modernism — white, moneyed, and exclusive — in America, and rises to meet Bowling’s own declaration that “Modernism belonged to me also.” Oct. 22 to April 9. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 465 Huntington Ave. www.mfa.org, 617-267-9300.

EJ HILL: BRAKE RUN HELIX On a roller coaster, a “brake run” is a section of track designed to slow the coaster’s momentum. For Hill — who will build an actual, functioning roller coaster at Mass MoCA this fall — the term has metaphorical import as well as practical. Hill’s installation, slated for the museum’s massive Building 5, is meant to evoke the fact that amusements parks were hotbeds of conflict amid the desegregation efforts in the Jim Crow South, and that simple communal joy was denied a significant segment of the population for so long. Beginning Oct. 30. Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, 1040 Mass MoCA Way, North Adams. www.massmoca.org, 413-664-4481


Murray Whyte can be reached at murray.whyte@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @TheMurrayWhyte.