Art and About in September
Arts & Entertainment
by James Gaddy, 08/24/2011
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It's easy to forget that many people in New York City came from somewhere else—it's a city of new arrivals, whether from Pakistan or from Texas—so there's always a fresh influx of locals who discover for themselves the City, its well-known inhabitants and its stellar cultural offerings. This month, the art world kicks into high gear with a range of openings that offer chances for newcomers to discover some of the City's greatest artistic gems, from entire museums to individual artists—or for longtime locals to rediscover some longtime favorites with new eyes.
Capitalizing on the success of last year's blockbuster Abstract Expressionism show, The Museum of Modern Art launches a full retrospective of Dutch-American Ab-Ex heavyweight Willem de Kooning on September 18, with about 200 works from the artist's 60-plus-year career that will occupy the entire sixth floor of the museum. De Kooning still somewhat remains in the shadow of his great rival Jackson Pollock (who doesn't?); but his often manic canvasses—especially the frightful Woman series (1950–1953), on view here—reveal the hard work of painting by subtraction, with the paintbrush as knife.
At White Columns gallery this month, Rita Ackermann again goes in search of something just as terrifying in Perfect Man II. The New York City–based artist curated the first Perfect Man show in 2007, which contained work from a group of (predominantly) female artists who were responding to the title and theme; this time, the group is made up of all males and contains work from Ken Okiishi, Peter Doig, Antoine Catala and others. The show opens on September 9, the same day that the International Center of Photography launches a 10-year retrospective, Harper's Bazaar: A Decade of Style, featuring fashion photographs from the magazine in the past decade by Jean-Paul Goude, David Bailey, Peter Lindbergh and Karl Lagerfeld. Vince Aletti, who co-organized the museum's 2009 exhibition Weird Beauty: Fashion Photography Now, curates. (The rarely seen Great Depression–era photographs of Peter Sekaer, who came to New York by way of Denmark, offer a stark counterpoint to New York excess.)
Two festivals this month emphasize site-specific installations in the City. On September 13, BAM (Brooklyn Academy of Music) anoints Next Wave Art, part of the Next Wave Festival, in the Peter Jay Sharp Building at its iconic Downtown Brooklyn location, with terrific work from faux-naive painter Jules de Balincourt, political photographer Rashid Johnson and multimedia artist Marina Zurkow, among others. And the French Institute Alliance Française, better known as FIAF, begins its annual Crossing the Line festival with a free day at its own landmark Stanford White–designed Payne Whitney mansion, which, in addition to serving as the cultural division of the French embassy, will host seven site-specific installations beginning on September 17. Artists who should be better known here in the United States—especially the trio of experimental choreographers Rachid Ouramdane, Faustin Linyekula and Xavier Le Roy—will participate over the course of the month along with established artists like Sophie Calle. Meanwhile, another longtime New York institution housed in a beautiful historic mansion, the National Academy Museum & School reopens on September 16 after a yearlong renovation. The 186-year-old museum reintroduces its collection to the public in grand fashion, with a weekend of free admission and classes, as well as Will Barnet at 100, an 80-year retrospective of the centenarian American artist, and five additional exhibitions covering topics including abstract art to architecture.
The Picasso to Koons: Artist as Jeweler exhibition at the Museum of Arts and Design explores a potentially interesting concept: what if some of the most celebrated artists from the 20th century had been jewelry designers? The show focuses on rarely seen pieces of jewelry designed by Pablo Picasso, Jasper Johns, Jeff Koons and 100 or so others, which were often intended only as gifts for friends.
There's still time to catch free summer outdoor art—Sol LeWitt's Structures, 1965–2006 is open until early December, and Rob Pruitt's The Andy Monument is on view through the beginning of October. And, in the meantime, the Public Art Fund will open Michael Sailstorfer's Tornado, a sculpture of a tightly packed storm system made out of inflated truck inner tube tires attached to a steel structure, perhaps feeling right at home at the always-busy corner of Fifth Avenue and West 60th Street, near the entrance to Central Park. A few blocks east, Japan Society hosts Fiber Futures Images, an intriguing look at the country's textiles industry and some of the artists who are mixing traditional techniques and new technology to amazing effect.
And book nerds, the few that are left, can locate like-minded souls at The Morgan Library & Museum on September 23, for the opening of Charles Dickens at 200. The exhibition collects manuscripts and letters from Dickens, the rare literary superstar and creator of timeless characters like Ebenezer Scrooge, Miss Havisham and David Copperfield (no, not the magician). The Morgan specializes in these sorts of things—exhibitions focused on the letters of Van Gogh and original manuscripts from Mark Twain are two recent examples—and the library claims to have the largest collection of Dickens manuscripts and letters in the United States. And here's an early present: the exhibition will be on view throughout the December holiday season.