Art and About in December

Arts & Entertainment

by James Gaddy, 11/20/2012

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As the last month of 2012 arrives, it's only fitting that one of the bona fide masterpieces of this young decade will get its largest and most accessible showing yet as Christian Marclay's astounding video art piece, The Clock, goes on view at The Museum of Modern Art on December 21. The artist's film is organized around the simple idea of taking clips from the last 100 years of film that depict a time of day on screen, then syncing those scenes with the actual time of day over the course of a 24-hour period. A special screening on New Year's Eve will show the piece in its entirety. Be forewarned: lines have formed everywhere it's been shown, so arrive early. 

On December 4, The Metropolitan Museum of Art continues its fall of blockbuster shows with Matisse: In Search of True Painting, an exhibition that focuses on the legendary artist's penchant for composing works in pairs, trios and series. The show starts with early works like the 1906 Fauve favorites Young Sailor I and II, then follows the evolution of the format over the course of Matisse's career. 

At Madison Square Park, contemporary artist Leo Villareal's Buckyball illuminates truth in architecture—specifically the geodesic domes of R. Buckminster "Bucky" Fuller—with a 30-foot-tall illuminated installation of 180 LED tubes arranged in a series of pentagons and hexagons in the shape of carbon molecules named "buckyballs" in honor of the late architect. The piece is surrounded by zero-gravity couches to encourage visitors to recline and contemplate the shape of these invisible building blocks that have been recently discovered throughout the universe.

Two new exhibitions also reference the overlapping nature of science and art, but keep their feet firmly planted in the natural world. At the New Museum, Rosemarie Trockel: A Cosmos presents the German artist's work from the past 30 years as an imaginary universe, experienced as a cabinet of wonders and organized like a natural-history museum. Trockel has also curated artifacts by nonartists to be shown near her own works in ceramic, wool and collage. By contrast, Mickalene Thomas: Origin of the Universe, at the Brooklyn Museum, uses a more playful approach, collecting the artist's portraits of African-American women embellished with rhinestones and charged acrylics that contrast the deadpan titles referencing the old masters.

In Chelsea, Hurricane Sandy flooded several galleries and caused massive disruptions to the creative and commercial ecosystem on Manhattan's west side. Many galleries were pumping water out of their basements and ground-floor locations last month, but the resilient community has largely returned to its regularly scheduled programming. Gagosian Gallery hosts a new exhibition by Ed Ruscha that focuses on the artist's preoccupation with the written word and books over the past 25 years—through depictions of age-worn pages, spines and traditional decorative bookmaking techniques. At Cheim & Read, Tal R: The Shlomo collects a series of energetic, Kandinsky-colored portraits made by mixing pigments with rabbit skin glue, a material that dries quickly, lending the pieces a forceful presence. A similar liveliness infects the three beguiling stainless-steel figures in Charles Ray's exhibition at Matthew Marks Gallery—a naked bearded man, a woman in Nikes sleeping on a bench and a self-portrait of the artist bending to tie an imaginary shoelace—which look as if they emerged from the mold fully formed. 

Downtown galleries fared a bit better during the storm, and three shows this month illustrate how the balance of power was shifting even before Halloween. At Kansas Gallery, Jesse Greenberg and Lukas Geronimas have staged National Park, a two-person show that pairs wood and plastic sculptures of all shapes and sizes and in varied and surprising combinations. The exhibition is up through December 21. Kevin Zucker's one-man show, No Hotel, at both locations of Eleven Rivington through December 22, uses minimalist ink-jet printing techniques to depict scenes from rainy hotel windows all over the world. And at the tiny Chinatown gallery Bureau, Viktor Kopp's Four Corners creates thickly painted juxtapositions that flutter like feathers and ash among the four pieces in the space. It's up through December 21.

Also through December 21, BRIC Arts will host On Purpose: Art & Design in Brooklyn, 2012, a look at how the borough's creative talents have addressed contemporary challenges in urban living. The works range from installations that R. Justin Stewart and Rosa Ruey have built out of recycled and reclaimed objects to the infographics designed by the collective 596 Acres that illustrate vacant lots throughout the City. On December 14, New-York Historical Society bookends the year with an appropriate exhibition for a city that has glimpsed its own frailty in the face of Mother Nature. The Landmarks of New York will focus on 30 new photographs acquired by the museum that depict iconic places and spaces in NYC, a follow-up to a show the museum hosted in 2009—proving that it's never too early to see the old New York, especially since a reinvented new New York is bound to arrive as soon as the ball drops on New Year's Eve. 

Briefly Noted
Beatrix Potter: The Picture Letters
The Morgan Library & Museum 
Through January 27, 2013
Who knew that the creator of the beloved Peter Rabbit books first created her characters in the letters that she wrote to friends and family? Unlike many writers who keep their process hidden, Beatrix Potter's growth as both writer and illustrator is refreshingly accessible, and the result is an uninhibited look at the maturation of a born storyteller.

Gordon Parks: A Harlem Family 1967
The Studio Museum in Harlem
Through March 10, 2013
These 30 photographs of the Fontenelle family, whose lives Gordon Parks documented for a 1968 Life magazine photo essay on poverty in the United States, are seen through the lens of one of the City's iconic neighborhoods.

George Steinmetz: Desert Air
Anastasia Photo 
Through March 3, 2013
Part daredevil, part photojournalist, George Steinmetz shoots his stunning aerial photographs by using a motorized paraglider to access angles and heights that create a sense of the unfamiliar even among wild landscapes along the beaches of Madagascar, dunes of Peru, salt flats of Bolivia and the oases of Algeria. 

Gabriel Orozco: Asterisms 
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
Through January 13, 2013
This two-part installation collects and arranges detritus that the artist has gathered from a coastal biosphere on the Mexican coast, an area that has also become an industrial wasteland as ocean currents from the Pacific Ocean have deposited far-flung rubbish on the shores. 

How Much Do I Owe You? 
Long Island City 
Opening on December 12
Organized by No Longer Empty, a collective slowly building a reputation for immersive performances, this secretive event will take viewers through the vaults of the City's banks, where individual performances will be held. See for updated location details.

Christophe Côme: Material Transformation
Cristina Grajales Gallery 
Through January 25, 2013
Incorporating hand-glazed tiles, enameled copper, colored glass and gilded wood, the Paris-based designer has built an exquisite range of lighting and furniture pieces.

related venues/(9)

  1. 1
    The Museum of Modern Art - MoMA
    11 W. 53rd St.
    Manhattan – Midtown West
    NY 10019
  2. 2
    The Met
    Fifth Ave. at 82nd St.
    Manhattan – Upper East Side
    NY 10028
  3. 3
    Madison Square Park
    23rd to 26th Sts. (bet. Fifth and Madison Aves.)
    Manhattan – Flatiron District
    NY 10010
  1. 4
    New Museum
    235 Bowery
    Manhattan – Lower East Side
    NY 10002
  2. 5
    Brooklyn Museum
    200 Eastern Parkway
    Brooklyn – Prospect Heights
    NY 11238
  3. 6
    Gagosian Gallery
    980 Madison Ave.
    Manhattan – Upper East Side
    NY 10075
  1. 7
    Cheim & Read
    547 W 25th St
    Manhattan – Chelsea
    NY 10001
  2. 8
    Matthew Marks Gallery
    523 W. 24th St.
    Manhattan – Chelsea
    NY 10011
  3. 9
    The New-York Historical Society
    170 Central Park West
    Manhattan – Upper West Side
    NY 10024

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