Art and About in October
Arts & Entertainment
by James Gaddy, 09/28/2011
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It's only fitting that in October, the month when things are not what they seem, the Whitney Museum of American Art should open Real/Surreal, an exhibition of works that subvert reality through the imagination and the subconscious. The show, opening on October 6, includes 80 paintings from the great generation of artists—including Edward Hopper, Yves Tanguy, Mabel Dwight, Andrew Wyeth, Grant Wood, Man Ray and George Tooker—who not only worked around the time of World War II but also prefigured the better-known Abstract Expressionists.
The subversive fun continues at Matthew Marks Gallery, with three rarely seen works from surrealist painter René Magritte, on view through October 8 as part of La Carte d'après Nature, an exhibition curated by German artist Thomas Demand. But don't let the intimidating-sounding title fool you: the show is an oasis—literally and figuratively—of works that revolve around the idea of domesticated nature (à la the nearby High Line) with sculptures, films, vintage color photographs and Cubist "trees." It all takes place beneath the sound of Central Park birdsongs, played over speakers, within a mazelike layout that keeps expectations always hovering around the next corner. (Some kids were even playing hide-and-seek on a recent visit. When was the last time you saw that at a gallery?)
The Museum of Modern Art hosts a very different labyrinth in its atrium with Carlito Carvalhosa's Sum of Days, a voluminous construction made of white translucent material that hangs from the ceiling. Microphones descend into the space and record the day's ambient noise, which will be played back the following day through several speakers. Sum of Days will be up through November 14. And Matthew Barney, arguably the most famous artist working today, has installed at the Gladstone Gallery DJED: three giant cast-iron sculptures based around a 1967 Chrysler Crown Imperial. It's part of his Ancient Evenings project, and marks his first exhibition at the gallery since 2009 and will be there through October 22.
But it's music that sets the rhythm in several exhibitions this month. Bob Dylan, arguably the most famous musician alive today, has installed a group of paintings he made from his recent—and controversial—trip to China. (The paintings themselves have recently become controversial, raising questions about proper attribution to sources such as well-known photographs.) Entitled The Asia Series, the show is on view at the Gagosian Gallery's Upper East Side spot through October 22. After installing an inflatable globe beneath the High Line, David Byrne, former lead singer of the Talking Heads, takes part in a Pace Gallery group show called Social Media. He's contributed two pieces, including his wry screenshots of iPhone apps that don't exist. The exhibition is on view through October 15. The Society of Illustrators, meanwhile, hosts Rolling Stone and the Art of the Record Review, which showcases more than 80 original illustrations commissioned for the reviews section of the famous rock 'n' roll magazine. The show, up through October 22, includes work from Gary Baseman, Tomer Hanuka, John Collier and many others.
The funkiest shows in the City this month—in the James Brown sense of the word—are the concurrent exhibitions from artist Nick Cave, where he has installed his exuberant, life-size "soundsuits." In Ever-After, at Jack Shainman Gallery through October 8, and For Now, at Mary Boone Gallery through October 22, Cave displays the costumes that he makes out of various knitted patterns, quilts, stuffed animals, figurines, sticks, woven baskets, sequins and black buttons; they are part Mardi Gras Indian, part abominable snowman, part Curious George.
Over at the Brooklyn Museum, Sanford Biggers' Sweet Funk—An Introspective, on the fifth floor, is his first museum exhibition in New York, where he has installed a piano beneath a tree. In another work, Kalimba II, named after an African percussion instrument, visitors are invited to play half of a keyboard. The show will be on view through January 8, 2012. Downstairs on the first floor, the museum's long-term exhibition African Innovations is a comprehensive and enlightening look at the history and development of art and culture from the so-called Dark Continent.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art attempts something even more ambitious with its exhibition Heroic Africans: Legendary Leaders, Iconic Sculptures, a show of more than 100 masterpieces (drawn from the best collections in Europe and the United States) that presents tangible evidence of the generations of leaders who shaped Africa's precolonial past. Heroic Africans will be up through January 29. And in Madison Square Park, through December 31, the four figures in Alison Saar's public installation Feallan and Fallow are not part of the Met's show, but they aren't far off: the female sculptures represent our mythical, ancient ancestors the Four Seasons—surreal figures with masks that never come off.
Through October 22
Breaking Open the Head
Borrowing her title from Daniel Pinchbeck's treatise on psychedelic shamanism, Mindy Shapero builds intricate sculptures of shell-like forms filled with small pieces of cut paper arranged in swirling rows. The works are on display at Marianne Boesky Gallery.
Through October 22
Home Within Home
Korean artist Do Ho Suh created a one-fifth-scale model of his childhood house crashing into his Providence college apartment building—a Wizard of Oz–like installation, at Lehmann Maupin, in which the perfect home is made of blue resin instead of emeralds.
Through October 22
With this exhibition at Andrew Kreps Gallery, Robert Melee takes the dripped, marbleized forms that have obsessed him throughout his career and expands into voyeuristic videos and sculptural detritus, with stadium seating from which to watch the proceedings.
October 6–November 5
Known as much for his production design work on Pee-wee's Playhouse as his Jimbo graphic novels, the Brooklyn-based artist installs a series of new works at Fredericks & Freiser.
October 26–January 1, 2012
Home Made Tasers
Dubbed the "queen of lo-fi performance," Spartacus Chetwynd takes over the New Museum's new space at 231 Bowery for a series of site-specific performances that should bring her amateur-hour, variety-show aesthetic to new carnivalesque heights.
Through January 9, 2012
Thankfully, this exhibition at MoMA PS1 approaches the defining moment of the 2000s from a variety of angles, using work created after but also long before that awful day—be sure to check out Jem Cohen's video Little Flags and Felix Gonzalez-Torres' "Untitled" (The End)—hinting at 9/11 instead of confronting it head-on.