Art and About in January

Arts & Entertainment

by James Gaddy, 12/21/2011

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The holidays came early and stayed late in New York City this year. On December 13, The Frick Collection opened its Portico Gallery, a section devoted to its Meissen porcelain collection dating from the early 18th century. And now, on the heels of The Metropolitan Museum of Art's stunning galleries of Islamic art, which debuted in November, the venerable institution is opening yet another new wing on January 16. The New American Wing Galleries for Paintings, Sculpture, and Decorative Arts
 relays the history of American art from the 18th century through the early 20th century. The 25 galleries feature masterpieces from John Singleton Copley, John Singer Sargent and Winslow Homer, as well as what is probably the most famous painting in all of American art: Emanuel Leutze's Washington Crossing the Delaware.

If you miss The Frick Collection's illuminating exhibition Picasso's Drawings, 1890–1921: Reinventing Tradition, which ends on January 8, a similar show of influences takes place at Peter Blum Gallery. Kindred Spirits: Native American Influences on 20th Century Art, on view through January 14, illustrates how artists were inspired by the desert landscapes and Native American cultures of the Southwest, just as Pablo Picasso was influenced by early Iberian figure drawing. The exhibition juxtaposes works from indigenous Southwest tribes with those from artists like Joseph Albers, Max Ernst, Georgia O'Keeffe and Jackson Pollock.

On January 17, the American Folk Art Museum opens Jubilation/Rumination: Life, Real and Imagined, an exhibition that focuses on the middle distance between the real and imagined life, as seen through the eyes and hands of self-taught artists like James Castle and Martín Ramirez. Meanwhile, at the Brooklyn Museum on January 20, the imagined and real worlds of lesbian expatriate, women's rights advocate and Nightwood author Djuna Barnes come together in Newspaper Fiction: The New York Journalism of Djuna Barnes, 1913–1919. The show focuses on the early journalism (and corresponding illustrations) that delicately profiled the people she met who lived in the margins of the City. It stands in sharp contrast to the exhibition opening at the International Center of Photography the same day: Weegee: Murder Is My Business, which collects the lurid, hard-nosed crime photos that the father of tabloid journalism took between 1936 and 1948.

What is the real work of Sherrie Levine—and what is not—is beside the point. In the Whitney's survey exhibition, which closes on January 29, Levine, who made her name in 1980 by re-photographing famous Walker Evans photos, has included some of her favorites, like painted sheets of plywood and bronze urinals modeled after the work of Marcel Duchamp. And on January 12, Damien Hirst, that other spectacle-chasing artist, is taking over Gagosian galleries worldwide—including three in New York City—to display his polarizing spot paintings.

And just across the New York Harbor by ferry, until January 8, the Staten Island Museum of Art hosts Gesture: In Paint and Software, a show that features spots of a very different color: Golan Levin, whose interactive software creations provide participatory art experiences, and his wife, Helen, a painter known for her saturated brush work, have built artworks specifically designed for touch-screen technology. And equally exciting is Lehmann Maupin's exhibition of artist Billy Childish, which closes on January 21. Entitled I Am the Billy Childish, the show pairs the eccentric artist's paintings of mountains and volcanoes with more than 50 of his albums and a collection of his books and poems.

Briefly Noted
Francis Picabia: Late Paintings
Michael Werner
Through January 14
This show focuses on the late painting experiments by Francis Picabia, the Spanish artist who worked through Cubism, Dadaism and surrealism before arriving at his much-dismissed kitsch paintings.

Castellani e Castellani
Haunch of Venison
Through January 7
An exhibition of new work as well as old classics of influential Italian master Enrico Castellani, this contains more than a few space-age mind warps, including the rarely seen futuristic environment Spazio Ambiente from 1970.

Soto: Paris and Beyond, 1950–1970
Grey Art Gallery
Opening on January 10
This is the first large-scale exhibition in 35 years for Jesús Rafael Soto, the Venezuelan artist who was at the forefront of the growing kinetic-art movement 30 years before it flowered.

Underemployed
Zürcher Studio
Through January 20
This timely group show happens to have a broader application, given how the economy dominates the political conversation these days, but it's actually aimed at the art crowd, arguing for more frivolity and less function. See for yourself.

The Birdwatchers
Bitforms Gallery
Through January 21
Four contemporary artists—Marina Zurkow, Adriana Salazar, Jeffrey Blondes and Gabriela Albergaria—offer their observations on nature; they employ animated plants and animals, video, letterpress prints and drawings on paper in which the landscapes are irrevocably changed.

related venues/(9)

  1. 1
    The Frick Collection
    1 E. 70th St.
    Manhattan – Upper East Side
    NY 10021
  2. 2
    The Metropolitan Museum of Art
    Fifth Ave. at 82nd St.
    Manhattan – Upper East Side
    NY 10028
  3. 3
    American Folk Art Museum
    2 Lincoln Square
    Manhattan – Upper West Side
    NY 10023
  1. 4
    Brooklyn Museum
    200 Eastern Parkway
    Brooklyn – Prospect Heights
    NY 11238
  2. 5
    International Center of Photography
    1114 Sixth Ave.
    Manhattan – Midtown West
    NY 10036
  3. 6
    Whitney Museum of American Art (closed pending relocation)
    99 Gansevoort St.
    Manhattan – Meatpacking District
    NY 10014
  1. 7
    Staten Island Museum
    75 Stuyvesant Pl.
    Staten Island – St. George
    NY 10301
  2. 8
    Peter Blum Soho
    99 Wooster St
    Manhattan – SoHo
    NY
  3. 9
    Michael Werner
    4 E 77th St
    Manhattan – Upper East Side
    NY 10021

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