Art and About in April

Arts & Entertainment

by James Gaddy, 03/26/2013

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If you're a history buff—and a fan of art and architecture—it's a good time to be in New York City. The Woolworth Building—the world's tallest office building when it opened in 1913, and whose Gothic tower, known as the Cathedral of Commerce, became the definitive fixture of the Manhattan skyline in the early 20th century—celebrates its 100th anniversary with a fascinating exhibition at The Skyscraper Museum. In Queens, SculptureCenter also takes its cues from New York's earlier years with Better Homes, a show that references The House in Good Taste, a book by design icon Elsie de Wolfe, published the same year that the Woolworth Building was completed. The exhibition brings together artists like LaToya Ruby Frazier and Martha Rosler, among others, who play off notions of interior design and homemaking in their work—from shifts in attitudes in the 19th and early-20th centuries to contemporary professionalized practices of today.

Woolworth Building at night
"The Woolworth Building at Night, New York City," by Detroit Publishing Co. Courtesy, The Skyscraper Museum

On view through April 15, Inventing Abstraction, at The Museum of Modern Art, looks back at the years between 1910 and 1925, when a handful of artists like Vasily Kandinsky, František Kupka, Francis Picabia and Robert Delaunay exhibited in Europe what came to be the first abstract pictures. The MoMA exhibition celebrates the centennial of once-challenging artwork (and now taken for granted) while tracing how the lessons of abstract art were embraced by modern artists such as Marsden Hartley, Marcel Duchamp, Piet Mondrian and Kazimir Malevich.

Velocità astratta + rumore
"Velocità astratta + rumore (Abstract speed + sound)" (1913-14), by Giacomo Balla. ©ARS, New York/SIAE, Rome. Photo courtesy of Monadori Portfolio/Electa/ Art Resource, NY

Opening on April 2, Photography and the American Civil War at The Metropolitan Museum of Art displays more than 200 photographs of the American Civil War, drawn from both the museum's holdings as well as loans from public and private collections. The exhibition will examine the evolving role of the camera—the first daguerreotype had been made in Paris just 25 years before the outbreak of conflict—during the War Between the States that not only tested the young republic but also proved to be a major breakthrough for the new medium, which recorded the scale and cost of war as never before.

United Enemies
"United Enemies" by Thomas Schutte. Photo: Jason Wyche/Public Art Fund, NY

For a more subtle take on the perils of conflict, German sculptor Thomas Schütte has installed United Enemies (above), a monumental statuary, at the Doris C. Freedman Plaza in Central Park. The towering cast-bronze installation, which began as a series of small figures the artist made with modeling clay in the early 1990s, depicts two mythical characters, with anguished, barely recognizable faces contrasted with the highly detailed garment folds and rope that binds them together. Take a short walk up Fifth Avenue to see Hugo Boss Prize winner Danh Vo at the Guggenheim Museum (below). (The prize—which counts Matthew Barney and Douglas Gordon as former winners—is chosen once every two years.) In his installation, entitled I M U U R 2, Vo has organized a selection of objects drawn from the collection of Martin Wong, who was a painter and regular figure in New York's downtown art scene of the 1980s and '90s.

The Hugo Boss Prize 2012 - Danh Vo, IMUUR2
Installation view of The Hugo Boss Prize 2012: Danh Vo, "IMUUR2." Photo: David Heald. © Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, NY

Pop culture historians of more recent vintage will appreciate the collection behind Spectacle: The Music Video, opening on April 3 at the Museum of the Moving Image, which claims to be the first museum exhibition to celebrate the art and history of the music video. With more than 300 videos, artifacts and interactive installations—from David Bowie and Madonna to The White Stripes and Kanye West to Radiohead and Björk—the exhibition shows off the innovative work of current-day directors like Michel Gondry, Floria Sigismondi and Chris Milk alongside original props and artifacts from classic vids like A-ha's "Take On Me" and OK Go's "This Too Shall Pass."

All month, Italian design icon Gaetano Pesce hosts his first solo exhibition in New York in 25 years with L'abbraccio (The Hug) at Fred Torres Collaborations. The architect, designer and artist best known for his Up Series of furniture in the late 1960s collects rarely seen drawings from the 1970s, maquettes, lighting and furniture alongside a 2009 cabinet he designed of two people locked in an embrace. Opening on April 5 at The Drawing Center, L'Argento is fellow Italian artist Giosetta Fioroni's first solo show in North America. The show will include more than 80 of the artist's drawings, paintings, films, theater design and illustrations that go back as far as the 1950s, when she began to develop her own vocabulary in response to an encroaching commercial culture.

Fast-rising artist Rita Ackermann has her first show, Negative Muscle, at the uptown location of Hauser & Wirth through April 20. As is the vogue these days, the show takes its title from a book, this one from French poet Roger Gilbert-Lecomte's Vacancy in Glass, and includes the artist's well-regarded abstract Fire by Days series of paintings that began as an accidental spill of paint on her studio floor. Opening on April 4, the more hard-edged abstraction of Andrew Kuo goes on view at Marlborough Chelsea with You Say Tomato, a show full of his infographic-like paintings that dissolve into non sequiturs upon close observation. Opening on April 10 at Acquavella Galleries, The Pop Object: The Still Life Tradition in Pop Art is curated by art historian John Wilmerding and surveys more than 75 works by Jim Dine, Robert Indiana, Jasper Johns, Alex Katz, Jeff Koons, Marisol, Ed Ruscha and others. 

Briefly Noted
Dark Paradise
Clocktower Gallery 
This exhibition of photography, video and collage by prominent and emerging artists, such as Zipora Fried, Nancy Holt, Joan Jonas, Patti Smith, offers contemporary, sometimes twisted takes on traditional landscape imagery and historically charged places.

Richard Nonas: Ridge
James Fuentes 
Through April 21 
For the artist's first solo exhibition in New York in five years, the ethnologist-turned-sculptor continues to experiment with his minimalist, geometric forms made from wood and metal combined to make what he calls combinations, or self-contained units of tension.

Alberto Burri: Black Cellotex
Luxembourg & Dayan 
Through April 20
As a key early figure of the Arte Povera movement, Burri turned to industrial particleboard made of compressed sawdust and glue as the base for his paintings—a response to the traumas of his experience as a military physician during World War II.

Sverre Bjertnes 
White Columns 
Through April 20
This well-rounded exhibition will focus on Norwegian artist Sverre Bjertnes' new and old paintings, works on paper (some of which go back to 1999), collaborative works made with his mother, and a group of painted furniture works by the furniture dealer and artist Robert Loughlin.

Form Is Emptiness: Abstract Paintings by Michael Katz
Tibet House
Writer, doctor and visual artist Michael Katz creates the vibrant color images to reflect his belief in the dynamic qualities of the Buddhist experience.

related venues/(8)

  1. 1
    The Skyscraper Museum
    39 Battery Pl.
    Manhattan – Battery Park City
    NY 10280
  2. 2
    44-19 Purves St.
    Queens – Long Island City
    NY 11101
  3. 3
    The Museum of Modern Art - MoMA
    11 W. 53rd St.
    Manhattan – Midtown West
    NY 10019
  1. 4
    The Met
    Fifth Ave. at 82nd St.
    Manhattan – Upper East Side
    NY 10028
  2. 5
    Doris C. Freedman Plaza
    Fifth Ave. and 60th St.
    NY 10023
  3. 6
    Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
    1071 Fifth Ave.
    Manhattan – Upper East Side
    NY 10128
  1. 7
    Museum of the Moving Image
    35th Ave. at 37th St.
    Queens – Astoria
    NY 11106
  2. 8
    Fred Torres Collaborations
    529 W 29th St
    Manhattan – Chelsea

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