New York Times Critics on What They Want to See


I’M LOOKING FORWARD to the Guggenheim Museum’s filling more or less top to bottom on Feb. 21 with “Italian Futurism, 1909-1944: Reconstructing the Universe.” It will be the first American museum survey of the most obstreperous, contradictory and possibly least loved of all strains of early European Modernism. Brace yourself.

First glimpses of the unbound catalog bode well for the lavish “Treasures From Korea: Arts and Culture of the Joseon Dynasty, 1392-1910,” opening at the Philadelphia Museum of Art on March 2, before touring to the exhibition’s co-organizers, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. Some 150 works from the National Museum of Korea in Seoul will summarize the heights of classical Korean culture, achieved during what may be the world’s longest-running Confucian dynasty.

What else? “Laure Prouvost: For Forgetting,” at the New Museum on Feb. 12, will give New York its most extensive view yet of one of the immersive video installations of Ms. Prouvost, the unexpected winner of the 2013 Turner Prize. The Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art will unveil its redesigned gallery on May 8 with an exhibition devoted to the singularly sculptural garments of the legendary British-American designer Charles James (1906-1978).

And on March 7, the Whitney Museum of American Art will present its 77th biennial — and the last in its Marcel Breuer building at Madison Avenue and 75th Street, for at least a while. This incarnation is not your mother’s by-committee biennial. It has been selected by three curators from outside the museum, working independently, and each taking a floor. Look forward to some interesting contrasts of curatorial visions and installation approaches. ROBERTA SMITH

I’M EXPECTING “Lost Kingdoms of Early Southeast Asia: Hindu-Buddhist Sculpture from 5th to 8th Century,” at the Metropolitan Museum, to be a spring sensation with early sculpture from Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia and Myanmar that is dew-fresh and beyond beautiful.

I’m intrigued to see what Quentin Bajac, the new chief curator of photography for the Museum of Modern Art, has in store in his first big outing there in a historical survey called “A World of Its Own: Photographic Practices in the Studio.” Everything was made within four walls, but, if you judge by the names, the sky’s the limit.

I look forward with huge relief to the arrival of El Museo del Barrio’s new director, Jorge Daniel Veneciano, and to seeing that indispensable institution back on its economic feet. Finally, I’m hoping against hope that the New York art establishment will wake up to the fact that by continuing to pile all its money on a minute handful of artists in a minute handful of galleries, it’s killing this city as a home to experimental new art. Spring’s the time for a palace revolution. HOLLAND COTTER


Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys in “The Americans.”
Frank Ockenfels/FX

Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys in “The Americans.”

IT MAY SOUND TREASONOUS to favor the K.G.B. over the C.I.A., but the best thing coming up is the second season of “The Americans,” on FX in February. This clever, complex series about Soviet spies posing as an ordinary suburban couple makes it a lot easier not to care when “Homeland” returns for a fourth season on Showtime.

“The Americans” stars Matthew Rhys and Keri Russell (“Felicity”) as a husband and wife in a K.G.B.-arranged marriage who have deep, conflicted feelings for each other and fluctuating faith in their own masters, even as they scheme to undermine Reagan-era America. (All their impostures are made more perilous by their neighbor, who happens to be an F.B.I. agent secretly assigned to counterintelligence.)

It’s a 1980s period piece that doesn’t feel dated, partly because the ideological allegiances and betrayals of Cold War politics are filtered through more abiding themes of marital loyalty and mistrust. ALESSANDRA STANLEY

The cast of MTV’s “Real World: Ex-Plosion."

The cast of MTV’s “Real World: Ex-Plosion.”

REALITY TELEVISION has been around long enough to have its village elders, still trucking but a little creaky and worse for wear. Of late, producers have taken some of these shopworn franchises and, in the interest of revivifying them, injected ready-made strife. With “Survivor” this past season, it was adding family members to the game.

On the new installment of MTV’s durable but increasingly blank “Real World,” it’s former lovers. “The Real World: Ex-plosion,” which has its premiere next Wednesday, will probably be slimy and gross, likely to hasten the show’s descent into “Bad Girls Club” mayhem territory, with an added helping of bed-hopping. This season takes place in San Francisco, which previously had the distinction of hosting the most socially aware “Real World” cast, and now, given the tease in the trailer about a possible cast pregnancy, could end up better known for spawning a “Real World” baby. JON CARAMANICA

SHOWTIME HAS TURNED OUT some of the quirkiest, most enjoyable shows of recent years — “Shameless,” “House of Lies,” “Weeds” — and a new series scheduled for spring seems as if it could find the same skewed sweet spot. It’s called “Penny Dreadful,” after the pulp publications popular in Victorian Britain, and John Logan, its writer and creator, intends to toss some famous fictional characters from that era into a pot and see what bubbles up.

“In practically a 10-year span, ‘Dracula,’ ‘The Picture of Dorian Gray,’ ‘Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde,’ ‘The Island of Doctor Moreau,’ ‘War of the Worlds’ were all written,” Mr. Logan, whose screenwriting credits include “The Aviator” and “Sweeney Todd,” says in a video blog about the making of the series. “And I started thinking, ‘How amazing that all of those essential texts of the horror genre were written within 10 years. What was in the water in Victorian London to make this happen?’ ”

Among the stars who will help him explore that question: Josh Hartnett, Timothy Dalton, Eva Green and Rory Kinnear. NEIL GENZLINGER

Woody Harrelson, left, and Matthew McConaughey in the HBO series “True Detective."
Jim Bridges/HBO

Woody Harrelson, left, and Matthew McConaughey in the HBO series “True Detective.”

ATTENTION-GRABBING CASTING doesn’t always work for HBO: James Carville and Mary Matalin polled poorly in “K Street,” and Dustin Hoffman and Nick Nolte couldn’t save “Luck.” (Dead horses were the least of that show’s problems.) But the pairing of Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey as partners chasing a serial killer in the first season of the anthology series “True Detective,” beginning on Jan. 12, feels particularly promising.

Mr. Harrelson is one of our most reliable film actors, and Mr. McConaughey has been on a roll, sometimes referred to as the McConnaisance, since “The Lincoln Lawyer.” As a bonus, the show’s fractured narrative, spanning 17 years, allows him to play his character as both a button-down, classically handsome leading man and a longhaired burnout, covering all bases for his fans. MIKE HALE


Caryl Churchill’s “Love and Information."
Stephen Cummiskey

Caryl Churchill’s “Love and Information.”

WHENEVER CARYL CHURCHILL comes up with a new a play, she seems to create an entirely new idiom. Surely the most adventurous and multifarious dramatist in English today, Ms. Churchill has taken apart and reassembled the languages of gender (“Cloud Nine”), high finance (“Serious Money”), the classic fairy tale (for the dystopias of “The Skriker” and “Far Away”) and Anglo-American politics (“Drunk Enough to Say I Love You?”).

With her latest work, “Love and Information,” opening on Feb. 4 at the New York Theater Workshop (her customary Manhattan base of operations), Ms. Churchill is giving our fragmented, terminally impatient world an appropriately splintered mirror in which to regard itself. Directed by her longtime collaborator James Macdonald, this import from the Royal Court Theater in London has 57 scenes (crammed into less than two hours) and more than 100 characters (played by 16 actors). As with any new play by Ms. Churchill, attention must be paid; this time, though, attention will also be smashed into atoms. BEN BRANTLEY

Sarah Ruhl’s “Stage Kiss” in its Chicago production.
Liz Lauren

Sarah Ruhl’s “Stage Kiss” in its Chicago production.

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