Best art in New York: Critics' picks
The Whitney draws from its own collection for this survey of conceptual, video and computer-based artworks governed by pre-programmed rules or codes. Among the issues explored in the show is how technological changed over the past 50 years has transformed image culture and the role of artists within it.
Showing some of Frida Kahlo’s most important paintings, this exhibition takes a deep dive into the artist and her legend. Kept out of sight for 50 years, a collection of personal items are also on view, from her favored traditional Tehuana dresses and pre-Columbian jewelry to the hand-painted corsets she wore to support her back, crushed at age 18 in a collision between a trolley and a bus she was riding.
Furniture, kitchen wares, electronics—even a car—make up this selection of midcentury modern objects from around the world whose appeal spoke to the democratizing potential of design. The show spans the hey-day of the aesthetic, from the 1930s to the 1950s.
Few photographers have obtained the mythic stature of Robert Mapplethorpe, whose often controversial black-and-white photos reflected his life as a gay artist working in the downtown demimonde of post-Stonewall, pre-AIDS New York. The man, the artist and the legend are all recalled in this two-part retrospective that marks the 30th anniversary of his death.
In a certain sense, the Whitney’s retrospective of Andy Warhol (1928–1987) is redundant. If you want to see his work, just look around you: Warhol anticipated our free-market landscape of short attention spans and narcissistic social-media engagements. His oft-quoted insight, “In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes,” nailed our penchant for disposable celebrity, foreseeing Instagram influencers, YouTube stars and other assorted meme-sters. Another utterance (“Business is the best art”) predicted a contemporary art world in which meaning is subsumed by the global flow of capital. RECOMMENEDED: Full guide to The Whitney Museum of American Art Warhol’s observations became augury because we, as a society, wound up with the superficial culture we so richly deserve. Interestingly, Warhol was unabashed about indicting his own art for being part of the problem. “If you want to know all about Andy Warhol,” he once said, “just look at the surface of my paintings and films and me, and there I am. There’s nothing behind it.” Gnomic pronouncements were of apiece with Warhol’s sphinxlike persona, yet there was more behind the mask than he let on. His transformation from Andrew Warhola, son of working-class Slovakian transplants to Pittsburgh, to Andy Warhol, avatar of downtown midcentury cool, was a classic American tale of self-invention filtered through popular culture. Inspired by his mother’s kitchen, he elevated food packaging to fine art. He brought the ethos
Presented in conjunction with “Everything Is Connected: Art and Conspiracy” at the Met Breuer, this four-channel video installation by British sibling duo Jane and Louise Wilson takes viewers on an immersive tour of the abandoned Berlin headquarters of the Stasi, the former secret police of communist East Germany, which kept the the populace in check through pervasive surveillance. Shot in 1997, the piece tracks through bland looking offices, complete with forsaken files, cabinets and other furnishings that taken together exemplify the banality of evil.
Ever since Howard Carter uncovered the tomb of King Tut in 1922, people have been fascinated by Ancient Egyptian treasures. The Met recently acquired one such object—a gold-leafed covered coffin for a High Priest from Egypt’s Ptolemaic period. It's on display, along with 70 other Egyptian artifacts from the Met’s collection.
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.
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 show is organized around the outsize cultural impact of Lincoln Kirstein, a curator and choreographer (he co-founded the New York City Ballet) who was a key figure of the New York art scene during the 1930s and 1940s, a period that is generally considered provincial, but in hindsight was a hotbed of post-abstract figurative art and queer aesthetics.
MoMA looks back to the 2000s and to the work of several artists who delved into the aesthetic and social ramifications of computers, genetic engineering and digital culture.
The Modern dips into its superb holdings of works by Miró (1893–1983) to survey the pioneering Modernist known for fluid dreamscapes populated by biomorphic forms that walked the line between abstraction and figuration. Bolstered by loans from other collection, the show pays special attention to the development of the artist’s pictorial language and the role poetry played in inspiring it. With some 60 artworks spanning the period between 1920 and the early 1950s, the exhibit revisits Miró’s vital place in the annals of 20th-century art.
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.