Art and About in February 2012

Arts & Entertainment

by James Gaddy, 01/18/2012

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This month, the City's cultural institutions borrow the real estate mantra of "location, location, location" with an emphasis on an extraordinary diversity of cultures and exotic locales. Opening on February 15, the second installment of the New Museum Triennial of young artists will this time focus on artists from India, China, Indonesia, Egypt, Lebanon, Nigeria and all points in between. Entitled The Ungovernables, the show includes 34 artists, all born between the mid-1970s and mid-1980s, who are not only changing the definition of what it means to create art in a so-called "developing country" but also serving as finely tuned entry points to the political and artistic revolutions occurring around the world.

A similar anarchy resides at Jack Hanley Gallery, which hosts Diggers, Mimes, Angels and Heads, a trip back in time to the era of the 1960s Haight-Ashbury collective known as the Diggers, a loosely organized absurdist group of activists and actors from the San Francisco Mime Troupe. The show includes an impressive archive of leaflets (available for free, naturally), posters, periodicals and other ephemera promoting the group's free food, free bank and free medical care, along with its inventive happenings, like the Death of Money Parade. The exhibition closes on February 4.

The birth of the "happening" art movement, as it happens, is documented at The Pace Gallery (534 W. 25th St.) starting on February 10. It's a less unruly show than the one at Jack Hanley, but a historically invaluable document of the medium that resisted high-priced collectors and instead encouraged real-time audience participation. Happenings: New York, 1958–1963 includes more than 30 of the original artists and more than 300 photographs, film footage, performance artifacts and collaborative artworks from the likes of Jim Dine, Simone Forte, Red Grooms, nominal figurehead Allan Kaprow and Claes Oldenburg. 

On February 1, the homeland from afar meets the homeland here as El Museo del Barrio debuts Testimonios: 100 Years of Popular Expression, an exhibition of Latin American artists who don't have traditional training, including Puerto Rican sculptor Gregorio Marzán, Mexican artist Margarita Cabrera, Chicano inmates in Texas and textile makers from Panama and Columbia. Meanwhile, Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei re-creates his famous Sunflower Seeds show at Mary Boone Gallery. Seen for the first time in New York, the installation—which consisted of five tons of hand-painted porcelain sunflower seeds when it debuted in October 2010 at Tate Modern in London—is smaller in this incarnation, but still nearly fills the entire interior of the gallery space. It closes on February 4.

David Zwirner (519 W. 19th St.) will be hosting a mammoth work of its own through February 25 from rarely-seen-in-New-York West Coast artist Doug Wheeler, who is best known as a pioneer of the Light and Space movement that included the likes of James Turrell and Robert Irwin. Wheeler's SA MI 75 DZ NY 12 is a so-called "fabricated light painting" illuminated from within by neon tubing to create an ambiguous environment, the appearance of angled squares made out of a cloud of light. 

Two less-heralded shows, however, should not be missed. The first big group show of the year, Rotary Connection at Casey Kaplan Gallery, closes on February 11 and showcases 13 artists who work with a range of materials—Julia Dault's mirrored Plexiglas, Liam Gillick's watercolor, Jose Dávila's panes of glass, to name just a few—with rising stars Ryan Gander, Andrew Kuo and particularly outstanding work from Benoît Maire. Bigger names are at Paula Cooper Gallery (521 W. 21st St.), where Sophie Calle's heartbreaking embroidered stories are flanked by photographs illustrating an aspect of the narrative, Christian Marclay's photographs of a Fourth of July parade are torn into more than 40 pieces and Paul Pfeiffer's suite of 24 photographs are actually famous beach scenes featuring Marilyn Monroe, but with the starlet removed. These are up through February 4.

Marilyn Monroe might be absent in those images, but there are two additional galleries that offer tributes to quintessential American icons. Three years after creating watercolors that depicted the story of Don Quixote, Barcelona-based artist Santi Moix has filled Paul Kasmin Gallery (293 Tenth Ave.) with vibrant watercolors that tell the story of Huckleberry Finn, complete with sketched wall drawings of various scenes from the book. (Through February 11.) Meanwhile, up-and-coming artist Rashid Johnson will use the real estate history of the Hauser & Wirth gallery space on the Upper East Side—it was the former town house of boxing promoter Don King—for the show Rumble, a collection of everyday materials and mirrored glass that, like so many of the shows this month, simply couldn't happen anywhere else. 

Briefly Noted
Joel Sternfeld: First Pictures
Luhring Augustine
Through February 4
Awkward family photos or just plain genius? Let's assume the latter, especially in the case of Joel Sternfeld's portraits of New Jersey mall-goers in 1980 who hold up their purchases to the camera with that pre-Internet lack of self-awareness, here exposed with just enough pathos to be sincere.

The Wedding (The Walker Evans Polaroid Project)
Andrea Rosen Gallery
Through February 4
Next door to Luhring Augustine, curator Ydessa Hendeles has installed a show that somehow fits 83 Polaroids that Walker Evans made during the last year of his working life, a collotype from Eadweard Muybridge, a Eugène Atget photograph, a 19th-century French model of a cooper's workshop, a 19th-century English birdhouse and some early–20th century American furniture—and makes it all work.

Monica Cook: Volley
Through February 11
The candy-colored primates on view here toe the line between the repulsive and tender, with fine attention to every surface—from skeleton to interior organs—of her creations. But the real mindblower is a stop-motion animation in the back room, in which the sculptures from the front become horribly, lovingly alive.

Will to Create, Will to Live: The Culture of Terezín
92nd Street Y
Through February 16
This exhibition examines the cultural life that grew out of the Nazi ghetto where 144,000 Jews were interned (and eventually 88,000 of them deported to extermination camps). Much of the music and educational activities was used in propaganda films used to deceive Red Cross workers, a fact that this series illuminates, exhuming the art and legacy of this inspirational community.

Color: Damien Hirst, Donald Judd, Anish Kapoor, Ellsworth Kelly, Sherrie Levine, Sol LeWitt, Olaf Nicolai, and Blinky Palermo
Carolina Nitsch
Through February 18
This well-timed exhibition—if you're not tired of Damien Hirst's dots at this point—smartly pairs up woodcuts by Donald Judd with woodblock prints by Sherrie Levine and etchings by Anish Kapoor with linocut prints by Sol LeWitt.

related venues/(8)

  1. 1
    New Museum
    235 Bowery
    Manhattan – Lower East Side
    NY 10002
  2. 2
    Jack Hanley Gallery
    136 Watts St
    Manhattan – Greenwich Village
  3. 3
    The Pace Gallery
    32 E 57th St
    Multiple Locations
    NY 10022
  1. 4
    El Museo del Barrio
    1230 Fifth Ave.
    Manhattan – East Harlem/El Barrio
    NY 10029
  2. 5
    Mary Boone Gallery
    541 W 24th St
    Multiple Locations
    NY 10001
  3. 6
    Casey Kaplan
    525 W 21st St
    Manhattan – Chelsea
    NY 10011
  1. 7
    Paula Cooper Gallery
    465 W 23rd St
    Multiple Locations
    NY 10011
  2. 8
    Paul Kasmin Gallery
    293 Tenth Ave
    Multiple Locations
    NY 10001

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