Whether just visiting the nation’s capital or a born and bred local, get more out of all that this East Coast cultural hub has to offer this summer.  We’ve rounded up our top picks for this season’s best new art exhibits.  Check them out soon, before they’re gone!

Corcoran Gallery of Art and College of Art and Design:

James Bridle: A Quiet Disposition (June 19-July 7)

David Levinthal: War Games (May 11-Sept. 1)

The Corcoran Gallery of Art and College of Art and Design at 500 Seventeenth Street NW has never been afraid of pushing boundaries in the name of art.  Two featured exhibits this summer are going even further, pushing the boundaries of art to the very frontlines of war.  James Bridle’s new exhibit A Quiet Disposition, on display in Gallery 31 from June 19 to July 7, draws on interdisciplinary research and publically accessible, global information to explore the theme of drone warfare.  With this multi-media presentation, Bridle, a London-based artist, writer, publisher, and technologist, hopes to bring public awareness to this otherwise unseen military shadow.

The ongoing exhibit War Games in the Gallery May 11 to September 1, also draws on the theme of military conflict, by featuring the unique postmodern photography of David Levinthal to present histories of warfare, its images, and repercussions.  Levinthal has become an influential voice on the topic of war, with groundbreaking projects such as Hitler Moves East (1975-77) an imagined recreation of the Russian Front during WWII, Wild West (1987-1989) an exploration of Western tensions during the American Indian Wars, and I.E.D. (2008) a contemporary look into American military campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Levinthal constantly seeks to complicate and critique modern conflicts through his unique photography and tableaux.

Washington Printmaker’s Gallery:

Extraktions Exhibit (May 29-Jun 30)

This summer the Washington Printmaker’s Gallery is featuring the imaginative work of Ron Meick in a brief exhibit entitled Extraktions.  This Delaware artist is well known for his experimentations with the printing process, often turning monotypes (single-copy prints) into crumpled, fractured or otherwise dissected and distorted one-sheet images.  Meick’s fragmenting method mirrors each work’s subject matter, using the very process of his art to dwell on equally complex and multi-sided contemporary issues.  These issues span anywhere from questions of natural gas extraction (or “fracking”) to critiquing China’s growing pressure on and dissolution of Tibetan culture.  Rarely have such modern themes been explored in a such a creatively mangled or colorfully crumpled way as in Meick’s extraordinary Extraktions.

The National Gallery of Art:

Edvard Munch Exhibit (May 19-July 28)

You probably know him best for The Scream (1893), that iconic expressionist image of a screaming figure with wide eyes, blending into a pastel setting, but Edvard Munch had a long career of such psychologically compelling and dramatically portrayed portraits and works of art.  From May 19 to July 28 in the West Building, the National Gallery of Art is holding a 150th-anniversary tribute to this famous Norwegian painter and printmaker.  With more than twenty prominent works from the Gallery’s collection on display, the exhibit pulls together some of the best examples of Munch’s compelling style, highlighting the artist’s fascination for showing heightened emotions and intense human experiences through art.

Workhouse Arts Center

Urban Decay 4 (Jun 1-July 28)

Who says art has to be so serious?  Workhouse Arts Center at W-16-McGuire Woods Gallery is now hosting its annual low-brow urban art exhibit Urban Decay 4.  Low-brow art, having evolved out of the underground world of comic, punk, tattoo, and street art, redefines traditional categories of art, to bridge the gap between high and low culture.  The exhibit, in collaboration with the local community arts group Urban Arts Syndicate (UAS), features artists and selected works from around the country that express this populist art movement.  The exhibit even features a popular vinyl toy display, of objects collected from visitor’s submissions.  Join the dialogue on what constitutes modern art, or just come out for something new, with this unique summer exhibit.