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Top five shows: Oct 31–Nov 6, 2013

The best of the week in art.

Photograph: Courtesy of Adam Reich and Luxembourg & Dayan

Luxembourg & Dayan, Sat 2–Jan 18
Going by his first name only, César Baldaccini (born 1921 in Marseille to Italian parents) has long been associated with Nouveau Réalisme, France’s version of Pop Art. A French cultural hero, he’s somewhat underknown in America—mainly because his use of crushed car parts in some of his sculptures has been considered too much like the work of John Chamberlain. In fact, there are clear differences between the two, even with regard to this shared material. In any case, César employs many other different approaches in his work; unlike Chamberlain, who is essentially a colorist, César is focused on the broader issue of technology’s relationship to art and culture. This survey covers all aspects of his work, spanning the 1950s to the 1990s.

Photograph: Babette Mangolte © 1974

“Rituals of Rented Island: Object Theater, Loft Performance, and the New Psychodrama—Manhattan, 1970–1980”
Whitney Museum of American Art, Thu 31–Dec 31
The scrappy performance-art scene of 1970s lower Manhattan is this survey’s focus. Radically experimental and done on a shoestring, the work that flourished in this setting left an indelible mark on the cultural life of New York, one far out of proportion to the tiny audiences that first encountered it—and to the even smaller group of artists who created it.

Photograph: Courtesy of the aritst and Salon 94

Terry Adkins, “Nenuphar”
Salon 94 Bowery + Salon 94 Freemans, through Jan 4
Adkins’s mixed-media sculptures evoke music or musical instruments, and also refer to figures in African-American history and culture, some of whom are long forgotten. His deeply poetic objects possess an imperishable quality, a sense of the spirit transcending time that one usually associates with folk art or ancient relics.

Photograph: © National Museum of Korea

“Silla: Korea’s Golden Kingdom”
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Mon 4–Feb 23
The Met throws it own version of a glitter bomb with this show of nearly 100 spectacular treasures from the ancient kingdom of Silla. Ruling over the Korean peninsula from 57 B.C. to A.D. 935, Silla was renowned for its craftsmen working in gold, and their skills are very much evident in the objects here, which include regalia excavated from royal tombs and Buddhist icons.

Photograph: Courtesy Sen Kelly Gallery

James Casebere, “Selected Works, 1995–2005”
Sean Kelly Gallery, through Dec 7
This exhibit surveys a decade of Casebere’s output, throwing a spotlight on his role as a pioneer of setup photography, in which he borrowed Hollywood-style model effects to create hauntingly Surrealistic images. Among the highlights are photos of mysteriously flooded hallways, which attain a special resonance post-Sandy.