Art & About: Summer Guide 2015

Arts & Entertainment

by James Gaddy, 04/28/2015

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It's an event that's almost as rare as Halley's Comet: an entire museum picks up and moves downtown. But just in time for summer, the 85-year-old Whitney Museum, which has occupied the Breuer building on the Upper East Side since 1966, is opening its doors at the base of the High Line, not far from its original West Village brownstone. Now blessed with more than 50,000 square feet of light, airy gallery space (plus additional exhibition space outside) designed by Renzo Piano, the museum relaunches in style, pulling more than 600 works by around 400 artists from its 22,000-piece collection to provide one of the broadest, widest-ranging surveys of post-1900 American art imaginable. Entitled America Is Hard to See, the exhibition applies the label to an array of artists: Europeans who lived briefly in the US, such as George Grosz, coexist with era-defining painters like Keith Haring and Jackson Pollock, while works by contemporary artists Dana Schutz and Jordan Wolfson hang near those from icons like Robert Frank and Grant Wood.

A different kind of survey—one that pulls from all over the world—begins on May 14, as Frieze New York takes over part of Randall's Island with more than 190 contemporary art galleries (63 from New York City alone); it's one of the premier events on the City's art calendar this spring. But it's the interactive pieces that make it worth the ferry ride: Bangkok-born artist Korakrit Arunanondchai installs a series of massage chairs upholstered in bleached denim, and Japanese artist Aki Sasamoto will build a three-dimensional maze that doubles as a personality test, giving the weekend a truly fair-like quality.

Where Frieze's activity is highly concentrated, the events that make up NYCxDesign, which runs from May 8–19, sprout up all over the City. Kicking off with BKLYN Designs, at the Brooklyn Expo Center, the expo will comprise massive trade fairs such as ICFF, at the Javits Center, which will host around 700 brands exhibiting the latest in furniture, lighting and fabrics; talks and exhibitions at places like the Center for Architecture, Pratt Institute and Cooper-Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum; and small-scale affairs at studios around town. Don't miss the Collective Design Fair, at the Skylight Clarkson Square in West Soho, which will run from May 13–17. The fair's 30 galleries—from Madrid, Paris, Milan, Mexico City and NYC—are exhibiting some of the most intriguing design pieces in the world, from midcentury classics at R & Company to contemporary pop works repped by J. Lohmann.

New York City's original King of Pop, Andy Warhol, is the subject of an in-depth survey featuring what is arguably his most famous work, the Campbell's Soup Cans, at the Museum of Modern Art. Unveiled April 25, it's a rare opportunity to see the entire series of 32 paintings, painted in 1962, hung side by side rather than in grid formation. But the show also includes the artist's little-seen commercial work from the 1950s, before he became a defining figure of the 1960s and '70s. Meanwhile, on the sixth floor of the building, One Woman Show (opening May 17) traces the early work of Yoko Ono, from 1960–71. Though Ono may have achieved fame as the wife of John Lennon, the exhibition illustrates how she was already a pioneering artist by the time they met, and the show chronicles her early conceptual pieces like Painting to Be Stepped On and 1964's Cut Piece.

Other trailblazing women get their due in exhibitions throughout the summer. Opening at the New York Botanical Garden on May 16, Frida Kahlo: Art, Garden, Life will show 14 original paintings and drawings that illustrate the famed Mexican artist's lifelong fascination with plant life. But perhaps the best part is the museum's reimagining of the artist's garden and studio at La Casa Azul, her home in Mexico City, within the Haupt Conservatory. Meanwhile, uptown, the Museum of Arts and Design hosts Pathmakers: Women in Art, Crafts, and Design, Midcentury and Today, a sprawling, 100-piece show that tracks the careers of women who rose to prominence along with the museum itself, from insider favorites like Eva Zeisel and Ruth Asawa to ceramist Edith Heath and Sheila Hicks, known for her cascading fabrics.

Sun worshipers should head to Madison Square Park, which will host its largest-ever outdoor exhibition, Fata Morgana, beginning on June 1. Artist Teresíta Fernandez has fashioned a 500-foot-long sculpture of golden, mirror-polished discs that will create canopies above the central lawn. And until May 24, the Bronx's Wave Hill presents The Lightening,
a site-specific installation by artist Chris Doyle that will turn its pool into a reflective surface using three faceted structures that hang over the water with mirrored facades that glow and animate when night falls.

Gail Albert-Halaban: Vis-à-Vis
Edwynn Houk Gallery
May 21–July 10
This collection of photographs appears to be a voyeuristic look through the windows and doorways of the courtyards and apartments of Paris. But look closer: the residents are knowingly photographed and complicit in their behind-closed-doors moments—which range from raucous birthday parties to quiet moments alone in meditation.

Sam Falls: Light Over Time
MetroTech Commons
Through May 29
It's the last chance to see this installation by Sam Falls, which has been up since last July. He has experimented with the long-term effects of sunlight, rain and temperature on a collection of tiles, glass, fabric and other materials that have been painted over with UV protective paint in some areas, and left unprotected in others, to see how these pieces would survive the winter.

Richard Prince: Original
Gagosian Gallery (Upper East Side location)
Through June 20
An artist who keeps blurring the line between what's appropriated and what's created, Richard Prince continues that theme with his new show, Original. The works take inspiration from his vintage collection of paperback books, many of which are paired with the original artwork for their covers.

Trenton Doyle Hancock: Skin and Bones, 20 Years of Drawing
Studio Museum in Harlem
Through June 28
Immerse yourself in the highly detailed sketches of Trenton Doyle Hancock, the Oklahoma-born artist who has spent 20 years producing densely layered collages and works on paper. This is the first extensive look at the artist's complete body of work.

Life at the Limits: Stories of Amazing Species
American Museum of Natural History
Through January 3, 2016
Need a biological introduction to spring fever? Stop by the American Museum of Natural History for a peek at the strategies that animals and plants will resort to in order to fight off predators, find food and reproduce at the edges of the plant and animal kingdom.

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