Upper East Side events: The best shows and cultural happenings

Find things to do on the Upper East Side, including museum exhibitions, shows, festivals and other events.

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"Egon Schiele: Portraits"

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

Vienna at the turn of the 20th century was a hothouse of psychological and sexually charged art, and no figure channeled the milieu better than Egon Schiele (1890–1918), whose fevered sensibility found expression in often-explicit drawings and paintings depicting subjects that were as jittery. This show, the first to focus on his output in portraiture, collects some 125 examples of his work in two and three dimensions, featuring likenesses of lovers, fellow artists and himself.

  1. Neue Galerie New York 1048 Fifth Ave, at 86th St
  2. Thu Oct 30 - Mon Jan 19
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"ZERO: Countdown to Tomorrow, 1950s–60s"

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

This historical survey, the first of its type in the U.S., takes the measure of the postwar Zero group, which included artists from Europe, Japan, and North and South America. It was arguably the first truly global art movement, and though each participant had an individual agenda, they all pushed forms originally developed in prewar abstraction into radically new directions, often going beyond painting and sculpture to explore installation, performance and other nontraditional

  1. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum 1071 Fifth Ave, at 89th St, 10128
  2. Fri Oct 31 - Wed Dec 31
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Amie Siegel, Provenance

  • Rated as: 5/5
  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

In the early 1950s, a newly independent India commissioned Le Corbusier to design a city, Chandigarh, as a regional administrative center in the northern part of the country. The institutional buildings he created with other modernist architects were outfitted with functional furniture (designed by his cousin, Pierre Jeanneret), that has become collectible in Europe and the United States. Provenance, Amie Siegel’s slow-paced, engrossing HD video, traces this narrative of

  1. The Metropolitan Museum of Art 1000 Fifth Ave, at 82nd St, 10028
  2. Thu Oct 30 - Sun Jan 4
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Jörg Immendorff, "Café Deutschland"

  • Critics choice
  • Free

Immendorff (1945–2007) created this cycle of paintings between 1977 and 1984, and they quickly became the German artist's best-known works. Stylistically evoking such pre-World War I figures as Erich Heckel, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner and Max Pechstein, as well as the Neue Sachlichkeit (New Objectivity) group, each composition depicts a tavern, club or bistro, crowded with individuals meant to represent Germany's Cold War present and Nazi-haunted past. The series is a landmark of

  1. Michael Werner 4 E 77th St, between Fifth and Madison Aves
  2. Thu Oct 30 - Sat Nov 8
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"Cubism"

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

These 80 paintings, collages, drawings and sculptures from the Leonard A. Lauder Collection—all promised gifts to the Met—represent the first time they have been shown in public, offering an opportunity to revisit the seminal early-20th-century movement through the taste of one patron. The contributing artists make up a mighty quartet of Braque, Gris, Léger and Picasso.   

  1. The Metropolitan Museum of Art 1000 Fifth Ave, at 82nd St, 10028
  2. Thu Oct 30 - Wed Dec 31
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"Kandinsky Before Abstraction, 1901–1911"

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

Besides being one of the first artists to push Modern painting into the realm of pure abstraction, Vasily Kandinsky (1866–1944) is also the signature artist of the Guggenheim collection, which contains more than 150 of his works. Taking advantage of its trove, the Gugg pulls out its holding of Kandinsky's paintings and woodcuts, spanning the decade before the artist's abstract breakthrough, when he worked in a representational style typical of the Blue Rider group.

  1. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum 1071 Fifth Ave, at 89th St, 10128
  2. Fri Oct 31 - Wed Dec 31
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"Early American Guitars: The Instruments of C.F. Martin”

  • Critics choice

With all due respect to Les Paul, few names loom larger in American luthier lore than Christian Frederick Martin. The German immigrant crossed the Atlantic in the 1830s and began fashioning six-strings in the Spanish style (figure-eights with super pretty rosewood inlays), but with sturdier and more streamlined construction. He also experimented with new design flourishes, some of which were later adapted by makers like Fender. This exhibit boasts 22 of his original creations,

  1. The Metropolitan Museum of Art 1000 Fifth Ave, at 82nd St, 10028
  2. Thu Oct 30 - Sun Dec 7
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Barneys holiday windows

  • Critics choice
  • Free

This year, the Madison Avenue shop incorporates video, light installations and more forward-thinking concepts into its holiday displays. The theme is "A New York Holiday," and elements include an interactive scene with Santa and Mrs. Claus, and a "floating city" created with 3-D mapping and light projections.

  1. Barneys New York 660 Madison Ave, at 61st St
  2. Thu Dec 4 - Wed Dec 31
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"The Roof Garden Commission: Dan Graham with Günther Vogt"

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

Graham, a pioneer of video and conceptual art, has spent the past 25 years or so creating elegant pavilions of glass and steel (and sometimes mirrors) in rural and urban outdoor settings. Similar to the architectural follies that grace formal gardens—albeit with a phenomenological bent—these structures are meant to explore the relationship between the individual and the public space. Here, in an echo of sprawling Central Park below, Graham collaborates with Swiss landscape

  1. The Metropolitan Museum of Art 1000 Fifth Ave, at 82nd St, 10028
  2. Thu Oct 30 - Mon Nov 3
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Wayne Thiebaud

  • Critics choice
  • Free

At 93, this left coast legend is still going strong after a nearly half-century career that began with his role as one of the defining figures of ’60s art in California. Thanks to paintings of cakes and pies rendered in bright, frosting-thick pigments, he was confused early on for a Pop artist, but its fairer to call him a tactile realist, immersed in traditional genres such as still life, landscape and figuration while focusing on quotidian subjects. Much of the work here—35

  1. Acquavella Galleries 18 E 79th St, between Fifth and Madison Aves, 10075
  2. Thu Oct 30 - Fri Nov 21
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"V.S. Gaitonde: Painting as Process, Painting as Life"

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

Over the past 20 years, contemporary artists from India have become significant players in the global art market, so it's only natural that Western institutions would begin to explore the context from which they emerged. Enter this Guggenheim retrospective of painter Vasudeo Santu Gaitonde (1924–2001). Gaitonde started as a figurative painter, channeling Indian tradition through modernist templates brought to the subcontinent by the British. By the mid-1960s, his style had

  1. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum 1071 Fifth Ave, at 89th St, 10128
  2. Fri Oct 31 - Wed Dec 31
More info

"Thomas Struth: Photographs"

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

These 25 photos by Struth, dating from 1978 to the present, are exemplary of the German artist's panoramic, empirical treatment of subjects, which range here from deserted New York streets to a robotically assisted surgery in progress.

  1. The Metropolitan Museum of Art 1000 Fifth Ave, at 82nd St, 10028
  2. Thu Oct 30 - Mon Feb 16
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"Death Becomes Her, A Century of Mourning Attire"

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

Widow's weeds from the Victorian and Edwardian period are given the Costume Institute survey treatment, which charts the evolution of funeral fashion from The Napoleonic Wars to WWI.

  1. The Metropolitan Museum of Art 1000 Fifth Ave, at 82nd St, 10028
  2. Thu Oct 30 - Wed Dec 31
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The New American Wing

  • Critics choice

The Met's expansive galleries trace the evolution of American painting, sculpture and decorative arts from colonial days to the early 20th century. Gems include Emanuel Gottlieb Leutze’s iconic 1851 painting Washington Crossing the Delaware, which depicts the Revolutionary general looking presidential as he launches an attack, a Gilbert Stuart portrait of the first President and a life mask of Abraham Lincoln.

  1. The Metropolitan Museum of Art 1000 Fifth Ave, at 82nd St, 10028
  2. Thu Oct 30 - Wed Dec 31
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Carol Burnett in Conversation with Rosie O'Donnell

  • Critics choice

Given her decades-long career, countless awards and status as a comedy legend, Carol Burnett should have plenty of stories to tell. Hear a few when she sits down to chat with actor/comedian/talk-show host Rosie O'Donnell.

  1. 92Y, Kaufmann Concert Hall 1395 Lexington Ave, and 92nd St, 10128
  2. Sun Nov 2
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"Nam June Paik: Becoming Robot"

  • Price band: 1/4
  • Critics choice

Video is a common medium today, but it was far-out and new in the mid-1960s when Nam June Paik (1932–2006) arrived in New York and quickly made the acquaintance of legendary names such as John Cage, Merce Cunningham and Yoko Ono. He just as quickly established himself as the father of video art, though he certainly wasn't the first artist to tinker with the technology. But he understood the cultural impact of television and found a metaphor for its pervasiveness in his use of

  1. Asia Society 725 Park Ave, at 70th St
  2. Thu Oct 30 - Sun Jan 4
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