Art & About: Summer

Arts & Entertainment

by James Gaddy, 05/29/2014

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Thirteen years after the attacks of September 11, another phase in the rebuilding of Lower Manhattan has borne fruit. The 9/11 Museum opened in May next to the 9/11 Memorial with emotionally charged memorabilia from the World Trade Centers—steel columns from the original buildings, images and audio recordings about that fateful day, personal effects from victims and the 60-ton "Last Column," the final piece of steel removed from Ground Zero. The column, covered by handwritten tributes to the rescuers who perished, simultaneously embodies the painful fallout of the event and stands as a totem of strength, resilience and renewal. Meanwhile, across the river in Brooklyn Bridge Park, the Thai-born rising art star Danh Vo provides unintentional symmetry with We the People, a full-scale replica of the Statue of Liberty. Built using the same materials as the original, it will be scattered throughout the park in 250 individual sections rather than assembled and displayed as one whole piece.

"Scarecrow" (2014), by Zilvinas Kempinas. Courtesy, Socrates Sculpture Park

Since it's summer, there are plenty of other outdoor exhibitions to be seen. American artist Rachel Feinstein celebrates her first public art exhibition in the United States with the season-long Folly, a group of three buildings arranged around Madison Square Park—although one will be in a tree—like the set of a theater. But what at first appear to be three-dimensional structures on closer inspection are simply drawn lines on flat panels of aluminum. In Long Island City, the Socrates Sculpture Park opens Scarecrow, a new site-specific work by artist Žilvinas Kempinas that's the largest installation in the park's nearly 30-year history. The 250-foot-long, 13-foot-high "kinetic pathway" is made from 200 stainless-steel mirrored poles that connect overhead to rows of silver Mylar ribbon, giving the effect of a funhouse used-car lot.

Jeff Koons
"Metallic Venus" (2010–12), by Jeff Koons. Courtesy, Fundación Almine y Bernard Ruiz-Picasso para el Arte. © Jeff Koons

The unrivaled master of shiny objects, Jeff Koons, will be exhibited in all his glory (both figuratively and literally) in a retrospective at the Whitney that opens June 27. Given his popularity, it's hard to believe that he's never had a proper NYC survey, so the museum's invaluable chronological look back—from his early Hoover vacuum cleaners and suspended Spalding basketballs to his ever-popular Balloon Dog sculptures—presents more than 120 objects in all, dating from 1978 to the present. The New York City artist Mel Bochner has often seemed from a vastly different generation than that of Koons and his pop art—one with better production values—but in Strong Language, a show of 70-plus pieces of Bochner's work currently at the Jewish Museum, the conceptual art founding father's lush, giant paintings strike a simultaneously populist note. Nonsensical pairings, emoticons, common turns of phrase—are all welcome in his wildly diverse materials and forms, which include velvet and canvas, drawings and prints. The show runs through September 21.

Gregory Crewdson
"Untitled" (1996), by Gregory Crewdson. © Gregory Crewdson. Courtesy, Gagosian Gallery.

For photography aficionados, be sure to check out one of these three can't-miss shows. Through August 3 at the Museum of the City of New York, Brooklyn-born photographer Aaron Rose goes back to a time before Instagram with a show steeped in nostalgia. In a World of Their Own: Coney Island Photographs collects 70 images taken during the 1960s on and around the famed beach and provides an intimate look at how New Yorkers lived at this very specific time and place. Geography also plays an important role at Andrea Meislin Gallery, where the Israeli-born photographer Barry Frydlender hosts Yaffo–Tel Aviv, an exhibition of eight large-scale photographs taken from his studio window over the last 16 years. Meanwhile, Gregory Crewdson's stunning series Fireflies will be at Wave Hill throughout the summer.

And for dedicated followers of fashion, this summer's exhibitions run the gamut of history. The undisputed master of the ball gown, British-born but US-adopted Charles James, gets his belated due in Beyond Fashion, a show at the Met Museum's Costume Institute that holds 65 of the designer's most notable designs, highlighted by a number of well-known pieces from the 1940s and '50s (through August 10). Things get a little racier at the Museum at FIT with Exposed: A History of Lingerie, which opens June 3 and details the backstory behind the bustier, nightgown and corset all the way to the push-up bra. And on June 27, contemporary artists have a crack at the first fashion story ever told, the Garden of Eden, with inventive takes on the ancient tale. Back to Eden: Contemporary Artists Wander the Garden, at the Museum of Biblical Art, features artists as diverse as Marina Zurkow, Fred Tomaselli and Pipilotti Rist.


This is What Sculpture Looks Like
This Is What Sculpture Looks Like. Courtesy, Postmasters Gallery

This Is What Sculpture Looks Like
Through August 2
Sixteen female artists take over the Tribeca gallery to show not only different ways that sculpture is being made, but also how it's become almost an outlet for self-empowerment—from Natalie Jeremijenko's repurposed zoos and pharmacies, Caitlin Cherry's arsenal of crossbows and cannons, Esperanza Mayobre's sand-castle installations on the beach and Rachel Mason's marionettes and wry political sculptures, like the one of her locking lips with President George W. Bush. 

Self-Taught Genius
"Girl in Red Dress with Cat and Dog" (1830–1835), by Ammi Phillips, on view in Self-Taught Genius. Courtesy, American Folk Art Museum

Self-Taught Genius
American Folk Art Museum
Through August 17
Consider it a small step for the underdog: these pieces, from unheralded artists, many of whose names are lost to history, bear tribute to creative impulses that couldn't be denied. The big hits here are Edward Hicks' The Peaceable Kingdom and Grandma Moses' Dividing of the Ways, just a few of the standouts that give a window onto American culture since the American Revolution.

Swoon: Submerged Motherlands
Brooklyn Museum
Through August 24
The local artist made her name wheat-pasting intricate cutouts to the sides of industrial buildings all over the five boroughs, but here she's built a towering tree sculpture that fills the 72-foot-tall rotunda inside the museum. The showstopping piece is offset with two handmade boats that were inspired by the events of Superstorm Sandy and built by 30 different people. The peripatetic vessels first sailed down the Hudson, were shipped to Slovenia and journeyed down Venice's Grand Canal before returning to their original location.

Lygia Clark
"Óculos" (1968), by Lygia Clark. Courtesy, World of Lygia Clark Cultural Association. Photo: ©2014 Eduardo Clark

Lygia Clark: The Abandonment of Art
Museum of Modern Art
Through August 24
Don't let the title fool you: the Brazilian artist encouraged a wide range of participation when it came to the paintings and performances she orchestrated throughout the 40-year career that's documented here. And it's a sensibility that continues in this display, which contains more than 300 objects, including her best-known works: small metal sculptures that visitors are encouraged to manipulate and bend into arrangements of their own making.

Gatsby to Garp: Modern Masterpieces from the Carter Burden Collection
The Morgan Library & Museum
Through September 7
If your favorite part of the museum is the wall text, then this is the show for you. First editions, manuscripts, revised proofs, letters and, of course, the book jackets from some of the greatest classics of 20th-century literature—including The Grapes of Wrath, Catch-22 and Catcher in the Rye—make up the 100 pieces in this one-of-a-kind exhibition.

James Lee Byars
James Lee Byars (c. 1970). © 2011 The Museum of Modern Art. Courtesy, University of California, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive.

James Lee Byars: 1/2 an Autobiography
Through September 7
Taken from the title of an exhibition that the well-traveled artist performed for his 37th birthday, this collection of ephemera embraces a wide range of materials—postcards, printed books, correspondence—that all bear the indelible stamp of the artist's Zen-like process.

Garry Winogrand
"Central Park Zoo, New York" (1967), by Garry Winogrand. © The Estate of Garry Winogrand. Courtesy, Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco

Garry Winogrand
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Through September 21
How do you narrow down the work of a photographer—a contemporary and peer of Lee Friedlander and Diane Arbus but without the name recognition—who famously left 2,500 rolls of undeveloped film at the time of his death in 1984? The 175 photos included in the show are billed as a retrospective, but the closest focus is on images he shot at The Met during its 1969 centennial, along with scores of photos he took in Midtown Manhattan (between Herald Square and Central Park) in the late 1950s to early 1960s.

Here and Elsewhere
Here and Elsewhere. Photo: Benoit Pailley

Here and Elsewhere
New Museum
Through September 28
More than 45 artists from 15-odd countries around the world—mostly Arab-speaking regions—have works on view here, and they tend to focus on the technique of personal reportage. They include Abounaddara, an independent film company based in Damascus but scattered throughout war-torn Syria; Fouad Elkoury, a photographer in Beirut; and Bouchra Khalili, whose video portraits document the secret journeys of migrants who are trying to enter Europe.

Madeline in New York: The Art of Ludwig Bemelmans
New-York Historical Society
Through October 13
Concurrent with the 75th anniversary of the classic children's book, more than 90 original works from the beloved master will be on view, illustrating how the creator behind the iconic red-haired schoolgirl—with her tan hat and navy uniform—worked in a broad range of different styles (see his murals for Bemelmans Bar, inside the Upper East Side hotel the Carlyle) and media, including walls from a Paris bistro, panels from the Onassis yacht and drawings from all six of his books. 

Beyond the Supersquare
"Mobile for the Hotel Ávila and The Larger Picture" (1939-1942), by Alessandro Balteo Yazbeck in collaboration with Media Farzin. From the series Modern Entanglements, U.S. Interventions (2006-2009). Courtesy, Henrique Faria Fine Art

Beyond the Supersquare
The Bronx Museum
Through January 11, 2015
You might need a primer on modernist architecture in Latin America and the Caribbean before heading up to the Bronx, but it's well worth the effort. Here, the utopian ideals from the likes of Oscar Niemeyer and Le Corbusier offer a jumping-off point for the 30 artists who make up this show (the name comes from Lucio Costa's housing unit, known as the "superquadra," in Brasilia), and the results are often interesting rebuttals from those who actually lived it.

Over Here: WWI and the Fight for the American Mind
The New York Public Library
Through February 15, 2015
On the 100th anniversary of the Great War—the so-called war to end all wars—the main branch of the library brings a collection of posters, propaganda and public displays of patriotism to illustrate how the war helped to change what contemporary notions of being an American would be for years to come.

Sam Falls: Light Over Time
MetroTech Commons
Through May 29, 2015
The emerging painter has often used both light and time to create his beguiling, woozy works—he has, for one, covered long pieces of rope with different-colored pigments and arranged them on bedsheets to be left out in the rain. But here he has created something more personally engaging: wind chimes you can play with, glass-tiled benches you can sit on and his own version of a seesaw, which changes with the weather.

related venues/(8)

  1. 1
    9/11 Memorial & Museum
    World Trade Center (museum: 180 Greenwich St.)
    Manhattan – Financial District
    NY 10007
  2. 2
    Brooklyn Bridge Park
    334 Furman St.
    Brooklyn – DUMBO
    NY 11201
  3. 3
    Socrates Sculpture Park
    32-01 Sculpture Park at Broadway
    Queens – Long Island City
    NY 11106
  1. 4
    Whitney Museum of American Art
    99 Gansevoort St.
    Manhattan – Meatpacking District
    NY 10014
  2. 5
    The Jewish Museum
    1109 Fifth Ave.
    Manhattan – Upper East Side
    NY 10128
  3. 6
    Museum of the City of New York
    1220 Fifth Ave.
    Manhattan – East Harlem/El Barrio
    NY 10029
  1. 7
    Andrea Meislin Gallery
    534 W. 24th St.
    Manhattan – Chelsea
    NY 10011
  2. 8
    Wave Hill
    675 W. 252nd St.
    Bronx – Riverdale
    NY 10471

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