1) George Condo: Mental States at the New Museum of Contemporary Art
January 26 - May 8, 2011
For the past three decades, American painter and sculptor George Condo has used traditional materials to reimagine art history and conflate the ordinary with the fantastic and grotesque. His first major US survey will highlight the prolific artist's uncanny ability to visually embody various "mental states" and the paradoxes innate to human nature.
2) Susan Philipsz: We Shall Be All at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago
February 26 - June 12, 2011
If Turner Prize winner Susan Philipsz's recent installations in London and Scotland are any indication, the newly commissioned sound installation for the MCA Chicago is not to be missed. We Shall Be All will continue her practice of infusing history, literature, and politics into minimal, site-specific installations which investigate the spatial properties of sound, but with particular attention to its physical context, the city of Chicago, and its rich cultural and political legacy.
3) Glenn Ligon: AMERICA at the Whitney Museum of American Art
March 10-June 5, 2011
Glenn Ligon purposefully mines American history and culture for source material, transforming evocative texts on race, sexuality and the like into tangible objects that explore language and the politics of representation. I'm particularly transfixed by his stenciled quotes -- sometimes legible, sometimes completely obscured -- and I'm not alone; upon entering office, President Obama installed Ligon's Black Like Me No. 2 (1992) in his private quarters at the White House. Glenn Ligon: AMERICA will be the first retrospective of this important conceptual artist, and a welcomed opportunity to relish in his masterful blend of beauty and profundity.
4) Pipilotti Rist at the Wexner Center for the Arts
March 26 - August 7, 2011
Whether its chandeliers of underpants, 25 ft. tall tulips, or a maze of cascading, translucent fabrics, Swiss artist Pipilotti Rist's moving image installations are spectacles in the truest (and best) sense of the word. With wit and whimsy, she transforms the mundane into the spectacular in mammoth, sensorial environs, and next year's site-specific project for the Wexner Center should be yet another wonderful merger of fantasy and reality.
5) MONUMENTA 2011: Anish Kapoor at The Grand Palais, Paris
May 11 - June 23, 2011
Though 2011 will only be its fourth iteration, MONUMENTA has already earned its "stripes" as a must-see contemporary art installation -- though, its breathtaking location in heart of Paris certainly doesn't hurt attendance either. This year the French Ministry of Culture and Communication has chosen the brilliant Anish Kapoor to follow in the gargantuan footsteps of Anselm Kiefer, Richard Serra, and Christian Boltanski and create a new work for the breathtaking glass nave of the Grand Palais. Despite the big shoes, I have every confidence Kapoor will more than rise to the challenge.
6) A Revolutionary Project: Cuba from Walker Evans to Now at The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center
May 17 - October 2, 2011
For most Americans, the longstanding economic embargo that prevents trade with and travel to Cuba, has shrouded the forbidden land in mystery and intensely piqued our curiosity. Thus, seeing the metaphorically walled city through the eyes of photographers Walker Evans, Virginia Beahan, Raúl Corrales, Alex Harris, Alberto Korda, Osvaldo Salas, and Alexey Titarenko, should be nothing short of revelatory.
7) The Venice Biennale in Venice, Italy
June 4 - November 27, 2011
Whether one sees it as the "White swan of cities" (a la Henry Wadworth Longfellow), "the city of mirages" (Erica Jong) or "half fairy tale and half tourist trap" (Thomas Mann), Venice is a staple of the art world Grand Tour as the "host" of the world's oldest and, arguably, most-respected biennale. For me, the charm of the Giardini, the beauty of the Italian architecture, and the gelato alone are reason enough for a biannual excursion to the mystic city, but this spring there are several more: Allora and Calzadilla in the US Pavilion, Christian Boltanksi in the French Pavilion, Corban Walker in the Irish Pavilion, and the thematic exhibition ILLUMInazioni - ILLUMInations, curated by Bice Curiger, to name a few.
8) Talk to Me at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)
July 24 - November 7, 2011
In this 21st-century world, we regularly communicate with colleagues, friends, and family around the world via telephone, email, Twitter, Facebook, and Skype, to say nothing of old-fashioned, in-person conversation. The design and capabilities of each platform hugely affects the communication, both in terms of outcome and experience. Years ago before 'googling' became a universally accepted verb, my (then) boss would say, "Ask the computer (insert who/what/where/why followed by an artist, collector, or museum name)." My colleagues and I would always laugh haughtily to ourselves -- you don't ask a computer, you use the computer as a tool to locate information. As misplaced as his use of technological vernacular was, in some ways, time has proven him correct. With the advent of voice recognition software, yesterday I asked my phone for the address of Vielmetter Projects and it appeared on the screen. It's too soon to tell what shape or form this exhibit may take, but MoMA's already created an online journal to document the process of organizing. Let's talk...
9) Maurizio Cattelan: All at the Guggenheim Museum
Fall 2011-Winter 2012
Whether he's striking down the pope with a meteorite or restraining his dealer to a gallery wall with masking tape, Maurizio Cattelan does it with extraordinary wit and panache. The conceptual practice of the Italian-born artist has never before been properly surveyed, and it's high-time that was remedied with a comprehensive retrospective chronicling his work from the 1980s to the present. Since Cattelan's interest in context and presentation are legendary, this promises to be an unprecedented and, likely, unorthodox installation.
10) Gerhard Richter: Panorama at the Tate Modern, London
October 6, 2011 - January 8, 2012
Many, including myself, consider Gerhard Richter to be one of the most important German artists of the post-World War II period, and thus any opportunity to see his 1960s photo-paintings, the 1990s squeegee paintings, or anything in between is reason enough to rejoice. The Tate's retrospective, the first in London in more than two decades, will of course include these iconic works, but also promises photos, editions, prints, three glass constructions, and a grouping of his most recent paintings.
11) PACIFIC STANDARD TIME: Art in LA 1945 - 1980
For six months beginning in October 2011, more than 50 cultural institutions in Southern California will join forces in an unprecedented collaboration to document and celebrate the birth of the art scene in Los Angeles -- now one of the world's most important creative capitals with more working artists than any other metro city, according to the 2010 Otis Report on the Creative Economy of the Los Angeles Region. Simultaneous exhibitions throughout Southern California -- at the Getty, the Hammer, LACMA, MOCA, SMMoA, UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center, and the Watts Towers Arts Center, among numerous others -- will each highlight various aspects of this seminal period and together present a comprehensive survey of the artistic evolution of Los Angeles. Set your clocks to Pacific Standard Time.
Pacific Standard Time is an initiative of the Getty with arts institutions across Southern California.
Every Friday, HuffPost's Culture Shift newsletter helps you figure out which books you should read, art you should check out, movies you should watch and music should listen to. Learn more