Shopping near the Empire State Building

Score a big deal or high fashion with this guide to shopping near the Empire State Building.

"Henri Matisse: The Cut-Outs"

Critics' pick

The explanatory text on the wall at the beginning of MoMA’s blockbuster of around one hundred of Henri Matisse’s cut-outs notes that these well-known works attempted to resolve the “eternal conflict of drawing and color.” Epic though that reconciliation may have been, it feels faraway and quaint these days. Despite his immense popularity, Matisse’s emphasis on formal innovation and aesthetic pleasure may make him the modern master most alien to the dry, over-intellectualized “conceptual” maneuvers that fill so many New York galleries. Thus, this rather glorious exhibition feels tonic. Matisse first took scissors to paper in the 1930s to work out figural compositions for murals and theater curtains, representing dancers with schematic forms alternately sinuous and angular, and counterintuitively achieving a remarkable feeling of movement and gravity with ostensibly unwieldy materials. During World War II, he used the technique to create the great artist book Jazz (1947). The book’s circus theme, bright hues, and delightfully recognizable flat shapes evoke picture books for children, masking its suggestions of wartime violence: Starbursts in red and yellow on and around bodies evoke open wounds and exploding shells. The 20 maquettes, all of which are on view, appear wonderfully handmade compared to the final stenciled pages, a fact noted by the artist himself, which led him to consider the possibilities of the cut-outs as independent works of art. During the decade before his d

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Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), Midtown East Until Tuesday February 10 2015

The Woodsman

Critics' pick

Even before writer, codirector, set- and puppet-designer star James Ortiz asks the audience to “imagine” in a brief prologue, we’ve already been thrust into a dark corner of Oz, where gnarled branches loom and unsettling noises signal danger. Strangemen & Co.’s immersive and practically wordless adaptation of the writings of L. Frank Baum uses low-tech stagecraft like evocative Bunraku puppets (the wicked witch is chilling), haunting vocal sound effects and a lone violinist to tell the backstory of Dorothy’s cherished Tin Man (Ortiz), once a mortal axman who sacrificed an arm and a leg and a whole lot more in the name of love. Emotions are communicated through simple gestures, grunts and glances, not one wasted. Touching on mortality, futility and fate, The Woodsman is a grown-up fairy tale that proves happiness is a worthwhile goal, even if it doesn’t last ever after.—Theater review by Raven Snook The Woodsman. 59E59 (see Off Broadway). By James Ortiz. Based on the writings of L. Frank Baum. Directed by Ortiz and Claire Karpen. With ensemble cast. Running time: 1hr. No intermission.

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59E59 Theaters, Midtown East Until Sunday February 22 2015

"Jean Dubuffet: Soul of the Underground"

Critics' pick

Assembled from MoMA’s holdings of work by Jean Dubuffet (1901–1985), this beautifully realized exhibition illustrates how Dubuffet’s rebellion against conventional good taste and artistic hierarchies was enacted through his materials and techniques. Comprising pieces from the 1940s to the mid-1960s, “Jean Dubuffet: Soul of the Underground” includes wonderful figurative sculptures assembled from slag and tree roots, as well as paintings and drawings depicting people—wandering through deserts, packed into subway cars—crudely scratched into thickly impastoed canvases or inked paper. But its primary focus is on Dubuffet the printmaker, using the medium as “an incomparable laboratory and an efficacious means of invention.” Central to the show is a selection of lithographs from Dubuffet’s series “Phenomena” (1958–1962), a compendium of 362 allover compositions, created by scuffing, scratching and staining lithographic stones, sometimes with stuff like fruit peels and tapioca. Often, he would cut up the finished results to produce new works. For the most part, Dubuffet’s recycled prints are representational. In the collage Black Earth (1955), the three figures occupying a nocturnal patch of gray and black landscape are fashioned from the same white-spattered paper as the starry sky above. Elsewhere, characters such as The Sleepwalker and Carrot Nose (both from 1961) sport hats and clothes seemingly made out of cosmic dust. But other pieces are more confounding: paintings with phra

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Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), Midtown East Until Thursday March 5 2015

Hot Soup!

Critics' pick

From what we can tell, maybe the only thing missing from this tasty stand-up show curated by Matt Ruby, Mark Normand and Gary Vider is actual soup.

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The Irish Exit, Midtown East Tuesday January 27 2015 - Tuesday December 29 2015 Free

Everybody Gets Cake!

Critics' pick

Everybody Gets Cake: Theater review by David CoteIn your typical clown routine, the face is the place to paste the pastry. But the sneakily weird and delightful Everybody Gets Cake! is too clever for that: Although we see a trim rectangle of frosted goodness at the beginning and end of this hour-long frolic by the group Parallel Exit, it doesn’t get smeared over anyone’s kisser. These zanies are both too kind and too cruel for such baked-goods violence. Zestfully directed by Mark Lonergan on Maruti Evans’s giant-arrow-covered cartoon of a set, Cake is a breathless pastiche of micro-sketches and blackout sight gags stitched together à la Monty Python’s Flying Circus or Laugh-In, with a faint Adult Swim vibe of stoner perversity. It begins somberly enough, with a bent and shuffling old man (Joel Jeske) awaiting a visitor at his nursing home who never comes. This wordless interlude, accompanied by Erik Satie’s ‪Gymnopédie‬ No. 1, strikes a melancholy note that is briskly obliterated by a retro skit about a wide-eyed actor (Danny Gardner) coming to the big city to be a Broadway star. Further silliness arrives via a Noted Shakespearean Actor (Brent McBeth), a slack-lipped Novocaine Abuser (Gardner) and Balloon Man (Jeske), who likes to stuff inflatables under his clothes. One of the more impressive bits involves two musicians (McBeth and Gardner) who “play” the click and swipe functions of their smartphones in “The Handheld Symphony.” Most vignettes last no longer than the time

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59E59 Theaters, Midtown East Until Sunday February 8 2015

"Sturtevant: Double Trouble"

Critics' pick

When this Ohio native began to copy the work of her Pop Art betters and claim it as her own, she was dismissed as an eccentric at best, a crackpot at worst. But Sturtevant (1924–2014)—whose first name was Elaine, but who went by her last name only—was simply carrying the logic of both the readymade and Pop Art to its radical conclusion, answering in the affirmative the following question: If the entire buffet of low-cultural signs and products was available for artistic consumption, why not artworks as well? In the bargain she anticipated 1980s appropriation tactics. Although she didn't necessarily cast her approach as feminist, she eventually became embraced as one, with her work seen as a critique of the male-dominated, market-oriented art world. This retrospective covers her 50-year career and its remarkable journey from margin to center.

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Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), Midtown East Until Sunday February 22 2015

New Year's Day Celebration: Oshogatsu

Critics' pick

This Japanese New Year celebration will include lion dancing (shishi-mai) with live taiko drumming, special New Year's calligraphy (kakizome), traditional rice pounding (to make mochi, a traditional New Year food) and kamishibai storytelling.

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Japan Society, Midtown East Sunday January 25 2015

Cochon 555

Critics' pick

The 10-city celebration of heritage-breed pigs kicks off in Gotham, with live butchering demonstrations, prosciutto tastings and a competitive cook-off. Five chefs—including Francis Derby (The Cannibal) and Andy Yang and Pichet Ong (Sachi)—will compete for the title of "Prince or Princess of New Porc City," decided by a panel of topflight judges. Taste your way through 30 dishes entered in the swine showdown like pork-skin noodles and ricotta-stuffed meatballs.

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Andaz 5th Avenue, Murray Hill Sunday January 25 2015

"Cy Twombly: Treatise on the Veil"

Critics' pick

Twombly (1928–2011) famously elevated scribbles, doodles and scratches to high art, but his abstract paintings were always rife with allusions to antiquity and classical mythology—due in no small measure to the fact that this Virginia native lived his whole life in Rome. The epic Treatise on the Veil (Second Version) was executed there in 1970, but because of its enormous size—it measures 33 feet across—it's rarely on display. The piece, on loan from the Menil Collection in Houston, TX, makes an unusual public appearance here along with its related drawings.

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The Morgan Library & Museum, Murray Hill
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