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.

BRIEFLY NOTED

One-Way Ticket: Jacob Lawrence's Migration Series
Museum of Modern Art
April 3–September 7
This hugely significant series of 60 paintings—completed by Harlem artist Jacob Lawrence in 1941—documents the mass movement of African-Americans from the rural South to the urban North after the Civil War and throughout the 20th century. The bright colors contrast with the sparse, sometimes desolate, imagery and are accompanied by captions that are by turns historical and poetic.

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.

Picasso's Le Tricorne
New-York Historical Society
May 29–Summer 2016
If you've never been to the Four Seasons restaurant (and, really, who hasn't?), you might have missed a chance to see one of Pablo Picasso's most interesting works: a theater curtain he painted in 1919 for the influential modernist dance company Ballets Russes. For 55 years, it hung in the Philip Johnson–designed power-lunch spot favored by the likes of Warren Buffett, until last year, when the owner of the building donated it to the Landmarks Conservancy, which then loaned it to the New-York Historical Society for public viewing. 

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.

Brancusi: Pioneer of American Minimalism
Paul Kasmin Gallery
Through July 10
Two rarely seen sculptures of Constantin Brancusi are on view: a bronze rendition of his 1924 walnut sculpture Le Coq, in which the rooster's comb is reduced to a series of angled corners; and Jeune Fille Sophistiquée, a more curvaceous piece from 1928. To help prove the point of the exhibition's title, the duo is surrounded by first-generation American minimalists who were influenced by the Romanian master, including Donald Judd, Carl Andre, Dan Flavin and Ellsworth Kelly, whose 38-foot four-panel sculpture entitled Eastmore Mural is on view as well.

Pierre Huyghe: The Roof Garden Commission
Metropolitan Museum of Art
Through November 1
A massive fish tank on the roof of the Met is the big draw for this year's Roof Garden Commission. In it floats a boulder of lava, around which lampreys and tadpole shrimp swim. Elsewhere on the roof, paving stones have been upturned, as if under construction, and a boulder of Manhattan schist has been installed, an allusion to the rock on which the skyscrapers off in the distance are built. 

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.

Jeppe Hein: Please Touch the Art
Brooklyn Bridge Park
Through April 17, 2016
This cheeky series of three installations in Brooklyn Bridge Park play off their views of the City: an arrangement of mirrors mimics the shape of the Manhattan skyline across the river, while fire-engine-red benches and other assorted seating arrangements twist, cartoonishly, encouraging interaction. On warm days through September 28, join the packs of children in the fountain, a responsive water sculpture that, when you enter, sprays geysers of water upward—everywhere except where you're standing.  

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