Art & About: Spring Guide

James Gaddy

(Updated 03/25/2015)

Every March, a roundup of the global art world occurs in New York. This year, the emphasis is on the word global. From March 5–8, the Armory Show, at Piers 92 and 94, will not only gather nearly 200 galleries from around the world, but also devote a special section to artists from the Middle East, North Africa and the Mediterranean region. Along with a commissioned installation by Beirut-based artist Lawrence Abu Haman, the expo will include galleries from Dubai, Istanbul, Athens and Cairo. The Armory's sister fair, Volta NY, this year moves next door, to Pier 90, with 90 one-person shows of contemporary art from 34 different nations. 

Across town at the Park Avenue Armory, the Art Dealers' Association of America hosts the Art Show, with 33 solo shows of its own, including names like Jean-Michel Basquiat, Nam June Paik, Jim Dine and Wade Guyton. The other 39 galleries play out like a history of 20th-century movements, whether your tastes run more toward German Expressionism (Gustav Klimt, Egon Schiele and others at Galerie St. Etienne) or works on paper (Sol LeWitt, Fred Sandback). Op art, surrealism and the Jazz Age are also represented, with popular figures like Pablo Picasso hanging near cult favorites such as Joseph Cornell, Spencer Finch and Ray Johnson. 

On Kawara—Silence, at the Guggenheim Museum, gives the famously reclusive Japanese artist his first full-scale exhibition, almost one year after his death. Although he rarely gave interviews or had his photograph taken, he documented his daily existence with the enthusiasm of a disciplined social-media user, keeping records of everyone he talked to for years in legal binders, tracing his Manhattan walks on maps, stamping the time he woke up on postcards that he then mailed to friends and, most famously, creating 3,000 canvases in dark gray, blue and red with the date painted it—Jan. 4, 1966, the first one in the series, and Jan. 12, 2013, the last—and lined on the inside with newspaper clippings taken the same day.

Discovering Japanese Art, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, offers a more traditional collection of Japanese masters, including the world-famous Great Wave by Hokusai, sliding-door paintings from a Zen temple and more than 200 pieces from the museum's 100-year-old collection (through September 27). On March 8, the Queens Museum will open After Midnight: Indian Modernism to Contemporary India 1947/1997, a survey of Indian art organized around the years 1947—including works by M.F. Husain, whose portraits earned him death threats from Hindu extremists—and 1997, when a changing of the guard brought artists such as Sheela Gowda, who uses earthy materials taken from her hometown of Bangalore. From March 13–21, Asia Week NY will be held at various locations around the city, featuring an additional 42 galleries representing artists in China, India, Japan and Korea.

The global art-world roundup continues at the New Museum, which has selected 51 contemporary artists under 40 years old, many of whom have not been shown at a museum in the US, to make up its 2015 Triennial. On view until May 24, the show, entitled Surround Audience, is a decidedly digital-first affair, with many works using social media as a jumping-off point. A similar spirit pervades the Museum of Modern Art's retrospective of the Icelandic singer and pop musician Björk, which opens March 8 and chronicles the eye-popping visual effects, costumes (like her infamous swan dress) and instruments used during the course of the iconoclastic artist's career. As one might expect, Sinatra: An American Icon, opening March 4 at the New York Public Library's Perfoming Arts branch at Lincoln Center, is more subdued. But it's also a more intimate look at the life of the world-famous singer, with rare concerts and interviews, personal letters and private photos among other artifacts on view.

On May 8, the City kicks off a 12-day celebration of art and design, NYCxDESIGN, with hundreds of events across nearly as many far-flung NYC locations. It begins in Brooklyn, with the opening of BKLYN Designs, and ends there, too, with a forum hosted by WantedDesign (there will also be a WantedDesign Manhattan, which will debut furniture pieces from a wide range of local and international designers). In between, the International Contemporary Furniture Fair, at the Javits Center, will showcase the latest and greatest from the furniture world's major players—British talents like Tom Dixon, French standard-bearers Ligne Roset and classic Italian brands such as Cassina and Poltrona Frau. If you're not up to speed on the art world by then, you can always hit Frieze Art Fair, the London export that gathers some of the best blue-chip galleries in the world on Randall's Island from May 14–17.

Sculpture in the Age of Donatello
The Museum of Biblical Art
February 20–June 14
An up-close-and-personal look at 23 masterpieces of Florentine Renaissance sculpture, all commissioned for the Florence Cathedral, from the likes of Donatello, Brunelleschi, Nanni di Banco, Luca della Robbia and others.

Kehinde Wiley: A New Republic
The Brooklyn Museum
February 20–May 24
Fans of the hit TV show Empire, take note: the New York City artist Kehinde Wiley, who has a few paintings in the home of the fictitious music mogul Lucious Lyon, gets a mid-career retrospective of 60 works, taken from his 15-year career. His pieces, which place contemporary hip-hop characters and folks plucked off the street in Old Masters–type settings, are based around a novel concept, but the real pleasures are the wildly patterned backgrounds and period-specific fashion.

Andrew Kuo and Scott Reeder: It Gets Beta 
Marlborough Chelsea
February 21–March 28
Two fun-loving, pop-culture-referencing artists offer dueling, yet complementary, approaches to contemporary art—Kuo's conceptual in-jokes and clean abstractions paired with Reeder's layered videos and prop gags.

Chamberlain / Prouvé 
Gagosian Gallery (555 W. 24th St.)
February 27–April 4
An inspired mash-up of two giants of 20th-century art and design—John Chamberlain, known for his elegant, poetic sculptures made from metal, and Jean Prouvé, master craftsman and blacksmith, who pioneered the use of light metal in furniture design.

Lauren Bacall: The Look
The Museum at FIT
March 3–April 4
For fashion fans, this is a don't-miss celebration of sultry Big Sleep actress Lauren Bacall, whose personal style included 12 knockout pieces from the likes of Christian Dior, Pierre Cardin and Yves Saint Laurent that will be shown here.

Tatiana Trouvé: Desire Lines
Central Park
March 3–August 30
Tatiana Trouvé: Studies for Desire Lines
Gagosian Gallery (821 Park Ave.)
March 3–April 25
For this commissioned sculpture located at the southeast entrance to Central Park, the Paris-based, Italian-born artist Tatiana Trouvé has created 212 different colored wooden spools for each pedestrian path she could identify in the park, with corresponding rope on each spool (from 60 feet to four miles long) to match the length of each path. On the Upper East Side, the Gagosian Gallery's Park Avenue location hosts a show of her preparatory drawings and artworks that depict how it all came together. 

Under the Mexican Sky: Gabriel Figuero—Art and Film
Museo el Barrio
March 4–June 27
A contemporary of Gabriel Orozco and Diego Rivera, Mexican cinematographer Gabriel Figuero worked with some of the most acclaimed directors of his time: John Huston, Luis Bunuel and Sergei Eisenstein among them. This exhibition collects some of his best-known film clips, along with photographs, prints and posters drawn from his personal archive.  

Giuseppe Penone: Indistinct Boundaries
Marian Goodman Gallery
March 18–April 25
The Italian artist, a master of subtlety, shows a selection of works from 1970 to 1997—photographs and paintings but also a sculpture of myrtle leaves and a series of trees, planted in pots. These will be accompanied by a series of new bronze trees, along with marble and terra-cotta forms.

Francesca DiMattio: Domestic Sculpture 
Salon 94
April 1–May 7
Drawing inspiration from fashion and design magazines, New York City–based artist Francesca DiMattio creates sculptures that play with notions of home decor and ornamentation, incorporating traditional Victorian dinnerware and fanciful, opulent patterns into pieces that, in the past, have taken the form of deconstructed furniture and canvases made from appliqué and collage.

Simon Denny: The Innovator's Dilemma 
April 3–September 7
Sometimes taking the form of an industry tradeshow like the TED Conference or riffing on supposedly game-changing announcements from technology giants like Samsung, Berlin-based artist Simon Denny's first significant US solo show playfully reinterprets the present-day pervasive rush to manufacture innovation by recreating examples from the recent, but mostly forgotten, past.


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