Art fall getaways from NYC
The dynamics of artistic inspiration—the process of borrowing from art and life to synthesize personal expression—is the basis of this show of six artists—Virginia Poundstone, Nancy Shaver, Ruby Sky Stiler, Penelope Umbrico, Elif Uras and B. Wurtz—commissioned by the museum to create room-size installations incorporating works by fellow artists as well as other influences. Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art, 258 Main St, Ridgefield, CT (203-438-4519, aldrichart.org). Through Oct 25.
This exhibition brings together Chast’s original watercolors from her 2014 memoir, Can't We Talk about Something More Pleasant?, in which the beloved New Yorker cartoonist details the burdens of caring for aging parents as they struggle to maintain their dignity in the face of death. As unflinching as they are charming, Chast’s works have the added advantage of temporarily balancing out the unrelenting optimism of the museum’s signature collection with some hard truths about life and its unavoidable end. Norman Rockwell Museum, 9 MA-183, Stockbridge, MA (413-298-4100, nrm.org). Through Oct 26.
No good deed goes unpunished, and that’s certainly true of Prometheus, the Greek mythological figure whose gift of fire to mankind drew the ire of Zeus and an eternal punishment of an eagle feasting upon him, in an avian-predator version of Groundhog Day. His story provided the subject of Peter Paul Rubens’s 1618 canvas, Prometheus Bound, which serves as centerpiece for this exhibition of old master paintings, drawings and prints. Some of the other works on view by Michelangelo, Titian and more inspired Rubens to create his masterpiece. Philadelphia Museum of Art, Benjamin Franklin Pkwy, Philadelphia (215-684-7860, philamuseum.org). Through Dec 6.
Knowles’s efforts span poetry, performance art and theater, as well as painting and drawing. Among other things, he’s collaborated with Robert Wilson, maestro of staged, cerebral spectacles, and is also know for his puckish typewriter drawings in which images are formed from letters. Playing with language, both literally and figuratively, forms the basis of works couched in a deliberately childlike blend of crude rendering and bright colors. This show takes a comprehensive look back at his winsome oeuvre. Philadelphia ICA, 118 S 36th St, Philadelphia (215-898-5911, icaphila.org).Through Dec 27.
Besides superb holdings in Impressionist art, the Clark Institute offers magnificent grounds cut through with hiking trails, one of which is adorned with this outdoor installation by the renowned German sculptor. The artist’s first architectural commission in the U.S., the piece, built out of Southern yellow pine, consists of a room size angular structure opened to the elements on one side. Visitors enter through a door in the back to behold the nearby Berkshire Mountains framed by an irregular pentagonal shape, creating a beautifully contemplative collision of man-made geometry and natural contour. Clark Art Institute, 225 South St, Williamstown, MA (413-458-2303, clarkart.edu). Through Dec 31.
Door knockers, garden implements, jewelry, keyhole escutcheons, locks, bas-reliefs, signs, strongboxes, surgical tools and more are among the 150 objects in this show of works on loan from Musée le Secq des Tournelles in Rouen, France, which is considered to be the world’s most important collection of wrought-iron objects. The exhibition complements the Barnes Foundation's own considerable holding in ornamental ironworks. The Barnes Foundation, 2025 Benjamin Franklin Pkwy, Philadelphia (215-278-7160, barnesfoundation.org). Through Jan 4.
Gender-bending is the focus of this dual show featuring Andy Warhol and Robert Mapplethorpe. Included are Andy’s 1975 series of drag queen portraits and Mapplethrope’s images of female bodybuilder Lisa Lyons along with others works examining the fluidity of sexual identity. Wadsworth Atheneum 600 Main Street, Hartford (860-278-2670, thewadsworth.org). Oct 17–Jan 24.
This show of the L.A. artist’s recent work runs concurrently with a career retrospective at the New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York, but with some 150 pieces on view, it feels nearly as expansive. Shaw is best known, perhaps, for introducing the accidentally surreal aesthetics of thrift-store paintings (which he avidly collects) into contemporary art; he’s noted, too, for his finely rendered draughtsmanship. The lowest and most bizarre cultural references find their way into the work, which is often compiled from his dreams. This show includes paintings done on antique theatrical backdrops found at various flea markets across the country. They lend a sort of traveling medicine show touch to his mash-ups of superheroes, bible-school comics and 1950s public service announcements. MASS MoCA, 1040 Mass MoCA Way, North Adams, MA (413-662-2111, massmoca.org) Through Jan 30.
One of the very few black painters associated with Abstract Expressionism, Norman Lewis (1909–1979) knew Jackson Pollock from their days together working for the WPA, and shared a common interest in Picasso. Lewis’s own work was notable for its fierce intelligence. His paintings essentially transformed Cubist still life into all-over compositions that were cerebral and self-contained. A key participant in the Harlem art community, as well as a politically conscious activist, Lewis seemed less concerned with making grand statements than in articulating a personal vision. This show is his first career retrospective. Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, 118-128 N Broad St, Philadelphia (215-972-7600, pafa.org). Nov 13–Apr 9.
Irwin, a charter member of the '60s California Light and Space movement has transformed the former Nabisco box factory across the Hudson into a soothing maze of stretched-scrim panels, punctuated at regular intervals with vertically-hung, fluorescent tubes that glow a bluish white—except for their midsections, which are wrapped in differently colored gels. The effect is both theatrical and sublime, as fellow visitors appear to dissolve into ghostly apparitions, depending on your point of view. Dia Beacon, 3 Beekman St, Beacon, NY (845-440-0100, diaart.org). Through May 2017.