Best art in New York: Critics' picks
In her first solo museum show, Lebanese-American artist Simone Fattal presents ceramic sculptures, paintings and collages spanning her 40-year career. An amalgam of figurative and abstract art, Fattal’s work often deals with the issue of war and is inspired by ancient history, mythology and Sufi poetry.
This artist’s paintings have been described as visceral, vexing and often grotesque. In a nutshell, her art is a kind of a punk-rock version of Marilyn Minter’s. This exhibition represents the artist’s first solo in a museum.
Inspired by Susan Sontag’s seminal 1964 essay, “Notes on ‘Camp,’” The Met Costume Institute examines the spread of the camp aesthetic from its largely gay, subcultural roots to its acceptance by the mainstream. Often characterized by an ironic appropriation of things associated with bad taste (like kitsch), camp was first cited as a term in 1909, when its connotations were decidedly more negative. However, by the 1970s, camp became synonymous with cutting-edge sophistication, and it wasn’t long before fashion designers adapted it for haute couture and ready-to-wear clothing. Examples of both can be found in this show of outfits that reference the more outré reaches of pop culture while also making knowing asides about the nature of fashion itself.
For this deep dive into the Guggenheim’s holdings of 20th-century art, curatorial duties are being handed over to six artists—Paul Chan, Cai Guo-Qiang, Jenny Holzer, Julie Mehretu, Richard Prince and Carrie Mae Weems—who’ve had previous solo shows at the Gugg. Some 100 paintings, sculptures and works on paper will chart the course of modernism, from the avant-garde energy of its early days to the fin de sciecle weariness of its closing chapters, through the differing perspectives of each artist.
An international cast of contemporary artists pay homage to legendary novelist, poet and singer/songwriter Leonard Cohen (1934–2016) with works inspired by his music and writings—both of which made “urgent observations on the state of the human heart.” The proceedings include commissioned works, along with a video projection of Cohen’s own drawings and a multi-media gallery playing covers of Cohen’s songs by Feist, Moby and The National with Sufjan Stevens.
During the 1960s and ’70s, a group of painters began to use bold, saturated hues, employing what was then a new medium: acrylic pigment. Colorfield, hard-edged abstraction and Op Art were among the genres that emerged as a result, along with a neo-Fauvist approach to figurative Expressionism, whose adherents notably included a number women and African-Americans exploring gender and race in their work. Drawn on the Whitney’s collection, this show re-visits this colorful era in postmodern art.
A sculptor who often used hemp fiber as a medium, Indian artist Mrinalini Mukherjee (1949–2015) wasn’t very well known in this country, which probably explains why this exhibit represents the first comprehensive survey of her work in the United States. Her abstracted forms, which combined figurative elements with those inspired by nature, were woven intuitively, without benefit of preparatory studies. These spontaneous creations form the backbone of this show, which also displays example of Mukherjee’s efforts in ceramic and bronze.
Alicja Kwade, a Polish artist who lives and works in Berlin is this year’s recipient of The Met’s annual commission to create an installation for the museum’s roof garden. These projects are perennial crowd-pleasers, as they add a touch of artistic enhancement to the rooftop’s spectacular views of Central Park and the Midtown skyline. Kwade’s approach seems tailor-made for the site, as it usually entails minimalist sculptural ensembles made of glass, stone and metal—materials that give her efforts a luxurious gloss. Kwade often plays perceptual tricks on the viewer as part of her overall interest in deconstructing the philosophical and scientific teachings we rely on to make sense of the world. At The Met, she reaches for the cosmos with a pair of pieces that evoke the Solar System.
This ongoing survey of monumental abstract paintings and sculptures begins in the late 1940s, when Abstract Expressionists like Jackson Pollock stormed onto the scene, and continues to the present with contributions by contemporary purveyors of the genre like Carmen Herrera.
This re-installation of The Met’s holdings of 17th-century Dutch painting brings together masterpieces by Rembrandt, Hals, Vermeer, and others in a thematically arranged hanging that presents these treasures from Holland’s Golden Age in a whole new light.