Art and About in April
museums & galleries
by James Gaddy, 03/30/2011
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For a couple of weeks in April—before the winter blockbuster exhibitions have ended and after the spring ones have sprung—the City offers a bounty of fruitful culture spotting. Case in point: Abstract Expressionist New York, The Museum of Modern Art's historic overview of abstract expressionism on display until April 25, showcases the best work of the movement’s titans (Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, Willem de Kooning), as well as lesser-known works from artists like Larry Rivers, Hedda Sterne and Robert Motherwell. Another must-see MoMA show, which opened on March 25, is Impressions From South Africa, 1965 to Now, a well-focused exhibition of apartheid-era works that illustrate how printmaking has served as a catalyst for black South African artists since 1965. But large- and small-scale standouts can be found all over the City. Here are our top picks for April, clustered in three art-rich neighborhoods: the Upper East Side, Chelsea and SoHo.
Upper East Side
At The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Richard Serra Drawing: A Retrospective will focus on an underrepresented part of the American sculptor’s life’s work, with roughly 60 pieces, some of which created just for the showcase. Serra also figures in an exhibition just south of the Met, in the Gagosian Gallery’s Malevich and the American Legacy. The show ambitiously tries to trace the influence that Russian artist Kazimir Malevich, a pioneer of nonobjective art, had on American artists like Donald Judd, Ellsworth Kelly and Alexander Calder. Pieces worth noting—beyond the six masterpieces from Malevich himself—include a blue hologram by James Turrell and four rarely seen Ed Ruscha bleach paintings. Nearby, the Whitney Museum of American Art hosts a similarly titled but vastly different exhibition, Glenn Ligon: America, a critically acclaimed one-man show of the conceptual artist, with approximately 100 pieces spanning the artist’s career.
A comparable spirit, both confrontational and telegenic, threads through Chelsea this month. At 303 Gallery, reclusive artist Karen Kilimnik has restaged her influential installation The Hellfire Club Episode of The Avengers, based on the eponymous 1960s British television series, framed by black velvet curtains, near-life-size photocopies of the show’s stars and scattered props and photographs. In his third solo show at Andrea Rosen Gallery, New York artist David Altmejd has created a series of intricately complex works housed in giant Plexiglas structures, along with sculptures that look as if they are scooped, quite literally, out of the art space’s walls. This Place, at nearby Monya Rowe Gallery, is a more modest exhibition by Tunisian artist Nadia Ayari. Her thickly painted canvases, on view until April 16, inevitably connote the landscapes and larger issues involving the politics of northern Africa, hinting around a sense of place.
No one documented his place and time, however, quite like Mark Morrisroe. The photographer chronicled his mostly gay clique in frank and immediate situations—post-punk’s answer to Larry Clark—in Boston and, later, New York, before dying of AIDS-related illness in 1989. Entitled From This Moment On, a retrospective of Morrisroe’s work is on view at Artists Space until May 1. The nearby Drawing Center is hosting Mexican artist Dr. Lakra’s first solo exhibition in New York. Dr. Lakra has covered the walls with custom drawings inspired by comic strips, magazine pinups, political illustration and tattoo art. (The show is at the Center’s second space, at 3 Wooster Street.) Last, Apexart hosts Let It End Like This, an exhibition curated by Todd Zuniga, who invited his favorite artists, writers, musicians and directors (and others) to create their own obituary. Some found humor in the assignment: writer Steve Almond contributed a fake newspaper article, headlined “Minor American Writer Found Dead,” while comedian Jena Friedman created a video of herself asking people on the street if they remember comedian Jena Friedman. The show will end, with or without an obituary of its own, on May 14.