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.

Matisse
"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.   

BRIEFLY NOTED

Cy Twombly: Treatise on the Veil
The Morgan Library & Museum
September 26–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.

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

Hubble@25
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.

Weeksville
"Funk, God, Jazz, and Medicine: Black Radical Brooklyn." Courtesy, Creative Time

Funk, God, Jazz, and Medicine: Black Radical Brooklyn
Weeksville Heritage Center
Through October 12
At the Brooklyn community that was established by free African Americans after abolition in New York, four artists offer their own take on one of the topics in the show's title. Designer Xenobia Bailey and the Boys & Girls High School create funk-inspired furniture; sculptor Simone Leigh converts the Stuyvesant Mansion into a massive work entitled Free People's Medical Clinic; artist collective Otabenga Jones & Associates collaborates with the Central Brooklyn Jazz Consortium on a radio station; and cinematographer Bradford Young tackles God using the historic Bethel Tabernacle African Methodist Episcopal Church as a film backdrop.

Dan Colen: Miracle Paintings
Gagosian Gallery (Chelsea)
Through October 18
The former art-world bad boy opens the season at Gagosian's Chelsea location with a toned-down show that relies on a tried-and-true method: paint. Big bangs, arcs of light and moody skyscapes—acts of creation, he says—abound. 

R. Luke DuBois: Portraits
Bitforms Gallery
Through October 19
The former Chelsea gallery Bitforms makes its Lower East Side premiere, featuring the work of self-taught programmer R. Luke DuBois, whose "portraits" include an immense data-visualization, along with idiosyncratic takes on William S. Burroughs, Britney Spears, circus performers and some of his longtime musical collaborators.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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
    SculptureCenter
    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
    David Zwirner - 19th Street
    525 W. 19th St.
    Manhattan – Chelsea
    NY 10011
  3. 9
    The Bronx Museum of the Arts
    1040 Grand Concourse
    Bronx – South Bronx
    NY 10456

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