Art & About: Fall

Arts & Entertainment

by James Gaddy, 08/27/2014

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"Only in New York"—it's a phrase you hear all the time, but this fall, three City-centric exhibitions offer history lessons that make it truly come to life. On view through November 30, A Brief History of New York: Selections from A History of New York in 101 Objects turns the New-York Historical Society into an eccentric collection of objects, each one telling a small slice of history of the City: the controller handle used to operate the first subway train, the draft wheel used during the 1863 draft riots, a jar of dust collected at Ground Zero after the attacks of September 11, a bagel, a pink rubber ball (better known as a Spaldeen) used in City street games and many more.

Mac Conner
Illustration for "How Do You Love Me" in Woman's Home Companion (August 1950), by Mac Conner. Courtesy, the artist

A fun game of "what if" is at the heart of Times Square, 1984, currently on view at the Skyscraper Museum. Thirty years ago, the City hosted an "ideas competition" for architects and urban planners to determine what to do with this seedy stretch—now some of the most valuable (and trafficked) land in the world. Twenty of these proposals are collected in the show. And on September 10, the Museum of the City of New York offers a look back at one of the original "mad men" with Mac Conner: A New York Life. This rare exhibition of postwar hand-painted illustrations for magazines like McCall's and Redbook mixes beautiful women and vibrant colors, but often in noirish, dramatic takes on otherwise Rockwellian scenes.

El Greco
"Vincenzo Anastagi" (c. 1571-76), by El Greco. Courtesy, The Frick Collection, New York. Photo: Michael Bodycomb

There is no evidence that El Greco, "the Greek," best known for his elongated, exceptionally tall and slender figures, ever set foot in the Big Apple. But that's not stopping a revival of his work on the 400th anniversary of his death. El Greco in New York, opening November 4 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, will combine the holdings of both the Met and the Hispanic Society of America to create the largest collection of the painter's work outside Spain. Some of his signature masterpieces, including View of Toledo (the Spanish town he lived in) and The Vision of Saint John, will be on view. To whet your appetite for the festivities, don't miss Men in Armor: El Greco and Pulzone Face to Face, through October 26 at the Frick. The show consists of just two paintings, each featuring a man in armor and painted in Rome between 1574 and 1575: the El Greco hangs next to one by his contemporary Scipione Pulzone, finished a year before.

El Greco
"View of Toledo" (1596-1600), by El Greco. Courtesy, © The Metropolitan Museum of Art

When Cubism opens at the Met on October 20, it'll mark the premiere of one of the largest collections of the movement—nearly 80 paintings, drawings, sculptures and collages from Georges Braque, Juan Gris, Fernand Léger and Pablo Picasso. The influence of these painters can be felt over at the Museum of Modern Art, where a compilation of late-period collages from Henri Matisse, Picasso's longtime rival and friend, made in the 1940s, will open on October 12. The Cut-Outs will show roughly 100 examples—the biggest such assemblage of these works to date—and will be highlighted by The Swimming Pool, which has finally completed a restoration that took more than 20 years.

"The Parakeet and the Mermaid" (1952), by Henri Matisse. Courtesy, © 2014 Succession H. Matisse / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

It's fall, so exhibitions for fashionistas are in season. Killer Heels: The Art of the High-Heeled Shoe, opening September 10 at the Brooklyn Museum, is the fashion closet you've dreamed of, with more than 160 examples of stilettos, wedges and platforms, including designs from Christian Louboutin, Manolo Blahnik, Chanel and Vivienne Westwood. The Jewish Museum aims a little higher—on the body, at least—with Helena Rubinstein: Beauty Is Power,  which opens on October 31. The retrospective is one of the most comprehensive looks at the cosmetics entrepreneur known as "Madame," the woman who laid the foundation for today's modern beauty movement. More than 30 works from her collection of African and Oceanic art, one of the best in the world for its day, will be on view as well.

On October 2, another longtime New Yorker, Saul Steinberg, serves as the muse for the exhibition that reopens the SculptureCenter in its newly expanded Long Island City location. Puddle, pothole, portal nods to 20th-century cartoons—inspirations range from Steinberg to Who Framed Roger Rabbit—through contemporary artists Chadwick Rantanen, Keiichi Tanaami and and Camille Blatrix, who contributed a "singing mailbox."

Toons really do take over the museum at the Museum of the Moving Image's What's Up, Doc? The Animation Art of Chuck Jones, which fondly remembers the man who created Wile E. Coyote, Road Runner and Pepe Le Pew and directed the most memorable Bugs Bunny works. See behind-the-scenes sketches from 23 original cartoons, and relive classics like "What's Opera, Doc?"—with Elmer Fudd's immortal closing lines, "What have I done? / I've killed tha wabbit / Poor wittle bunny / Poor wittle wabbit"—in all their hand-drawn glory.   


Hubble at 25
"Hubble@25." Courtesy, NASA

Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum, Space Shuttle Pavilion
Opens October 23
The 25th anniversary of the Hubble Telescope's launch onboard the space shuttle Discovery is celebrated in this exhibition and in other activities held throughout the museum. Highlights include stunningly beautiful high-resolution photographs taken in deep space.

Chris Ofili: Night and Day
New Museum
October 29–February 1, 2015
If the name sounds familiar, it's likely thanks to Ofili's portrait of the Virgin Mary made partially out of elephant dung, which so incensed then-NYC mayor Rudy Giuliani that it became a national scandal (and turned the Trinidad-based English artist into an international star). Here, three floors will be devoted to Ofili's layered, complex and, yes, sometimes provocative imagery, through which he renders historical myths, religious iconography, exotic landscapes and pop culture

Marcel Dzama: Une Danse des Bouffons (A Jester's Dance)
David Zwirner – 19th Street
Through October 25
This 35-minute short stars former Sonic Youth member Kim Gordon and purports to be a fictionalized account of the failed romance between Marcel Duchamp and his muse, Brazilian sculptor Maria Martins. But as with all Dzama's work, it's the costumes that really count—and the rest of the gallery is filled with props from the shoot.

Two Two One
Regina Rex
Through October 26
Kicked out of its location in Ridgewood, Queens, the gallery makes its official Manhattan debut in a new Lower East Side space. The inaugural four-man show—Corey Escoto, Dave Hardy, EJ Hauser and David Stein—is fitting: the gallery has supported and closely collaborated with all of them over the last four years.

Picasso & Jacqueline: The Evolution of Style
The Pace Gallery (Midtown and Chelsea locations)
October 31–January 10, 2015
You may know Picasso's many muses—Dora Maar, Marie-Thérèse Walter, Francoise Gilot—but precious little has been done on his late, great love, Jacqueline Roque, whom the artist married in 1961 and who, 13 years after his death, still grieving, took her own life. More than 140 total pieces, including 11 works from his Les Femmes d’Alger series, give an inside look at one of the art world's most intriguing relationships.

Albert Oehlen: Fabric Paintings
Skarstedt Gallery
November 4–December 20
A disciple of contemporary radical Sigmar Polke (who just finished a retrospective of his own at the Museum of Modern Art in August), the German artist opens a show that includes just 15 of his fabric paintings, all from 1992 to 1998, that find him abandoning strict, formal compositions and using patterned fabric for his canvases. It's an opportunity to see the painter in a more intimate environment before the New Museum gives him the full-on retrospective treatment next spring.

Jörg Immendorff: Café Deutschland
Michael Werner Gallery
Through November 8
Rarely seen, this epic cycle is one of the most affecting depictions of life in Germany before the Berlin Wall came down. The paintings trace the inside of nightclubs in and around West Germany, and were the product of a fruitful collaboration with an East German compatriot, A.R. Penck.

Speaking of People: Ebony, Jet and Contemporary Art
The Studio Museum in Harlem
November 13–March 8, 2015
Two magazines not usually associated with high art get their due as the Studio Museum in Harlem opens a clever high-concept idea: contemporary artists who have taken inspiration—sometimes literal, sometimes metaphorically—from the most popular black culture magazines of the day. It works because there's so much material to choose from: represented are some 16 artists, including the likes of Glenn Ligon, Theaster Gates, Lorna Simpson and Jeremy Okai Davis, whose reworked paintings of Ebony covers are among the many highlights.

Tommy Hartung: The Bible
On Stellar Rays
Through November 30
Who needs Russell Crowe? All the special effects in this year's epic Noah blockbuster pale in comparison to the 60-minute homemade video by the Queens-based artist, who combines shots from hand-built sets made in his studio with manipulated and edited found footage to retell biblical stories. Through the lens of contemporary events, Hartung tackles tales such as the fall of humanity and the betrayal of Joseph.

Nam June Paik: Becoming Robot
Asia Society
Through January 4, 2015
Known as the "father of video art," the well-traveled artist (born in Seoul, studied in Munich, practiced in New York City) was a true cosmic citizen who found a way to give his futuristic environments a religious sentiment. Operating in the then-new space between technology and art—he coined the term electronic superhighway and predicted a "video telephone" in 1966 while anticipating the rise of Instagram and other social media—Paik's works, such as a Buddha contemplating its likeness onscreen in TV Buddha, often succeed by giving these cold machines an irreverent layer of meaning.

Marisol: Sculptures and Works on Paper
El Museo del Barrio
Through January 10, 2015
As hard as it is to believe, this is Marisol's first solo show in a New York City museum. The famously private artist studied under godfather of abstract expressionism Hans Hofmann and ended up a longtime muse of Andy Warhol's, but she rejected easy categorizaton throughout her career, as this show of 30 works illustrates. Often working in wood and terra-cotta, she created dry takes on pop-culture icons, as in the excellent John Wayne, on view here. Don't miss her rarely seen works on paper either.

In Print/Imprint
Bronx Museum of the Arts
Through January 11, 2015
Work from Sanford Biggers and Vito Acconci highlight this exhibition dedicated to the permanence and enduring appeal of small-scale works on paper, all drawn from the museum's extensive collection.  

Sebastião Salgado: Genesis
International Center of Photography
Through January 11, 2015
Similar in content to Dan Colen's show but wildly different in execution is the third major series in this Brazilian photographer's long-running career. The show is divided into five sections, each dedicated to a certain part of the world where nature still runs wild.

Cy Twombly: Treatise on the Veil
The Morgan Library & Museum
Through January 25, 2015
If there's one monumental piece to see in person this season, it’s Cy Twombly's masterpiece at the Morgan Library, a nearly 33-foot-long painting that signaled the growing influence of the painter's life in Rome, where he lived during its construction. Included with the work are his preparatory drawings, which include crayon, pencil, tape and measurements for the final product.

From the Margins: Lee Krasner and Norman Lewis, 1945–1952
The Jewish Museum
Through February 1, 2015
This survey of the peak work of two abstract expressionists, born one year apart, provides a fascinating dual history of the post–World War II scene in New York City: Krasner as the wife of painter Jackson Pollock; Lewis as an integral part of the Savage Studio of Arts and Crafts in Harlem. The two painters embrace abstraction and spontaneous gestures while drawing on music, writing, ancient art and contemporary life.

100 Years in Post-Production: Resurrecting a Lost Landmark of Black Film History
Museum of Modern Art
Through March 1, 2015
The earliest known surviving feature film using a cast of black actors will get its premiere on November 8, while stills, archival material and additional research will be on view two weeks earlier in the Roy and Niuta Titus Theater Lobby Galleries. Perhaps best of all is the nearly eight minutes of documentary footage of the cast, including star Bert Williams, a popular Caribbean-American vaudevillian at the time, interacting on sets around New York City and New Jersey.

related venues/(9)

  1. 1
    The New-York Historical Society
    170 Central Park West
    Manhattan – Upper West Side
    NY 10024
  2. 2
    The Skyscraper Museum
    39 Battery Pl.
    Manhattan – Battery Park City
    NY 10280
  3. 3
    The Frick Collection
    1 E. 70th St.
    Manhattan – Upper East Side
    NY 10021
  1. 4
    The Metropolitan Museum of Art
    Fifth Ave. at 82nd St.
    Manhattan – Upper East Side
    NY 10028
  2. 5
    Brooklyn Museum
    200 Eastern Parkway
    Brooklyn – Prospect Heights
    NY 11238
  3. 6
    44-19 Purves St.
    Queens – Long Island City
    NY 11101
  1. 7
    Museum of the Moving Image
    35th Ave. at 37th St.
    Queens – Astoria
    NY 11106
  2. 8
    The Studio Museum in Harlem
    144 W. 125th St.
    Manhattan – Harlem
    NY 10027
  3. 9
    Asia Society and Museum
    725 Park Ave.
    Manhattan – Upper East Side
    NY 10021

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