The top 12 art shows in NYC this fall

Looking for the top art shows in NYC this fall? You can find them on our list of fall exhibitions at New York museums.
Photograph: © Yasumasa Morimura
By Howard Halle |

Things always get a little sleepy in New York’s art world during the summer, when museum exhibitions enter their final months, and galleries go on break in August. All of that changes, of course, shortly after Labor Day, when the city’s art scene comes roaring back to life with new shows. This fall is no exception, with exciting offerings at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, MoMA, the Guggenheim and other places. To find out more, check out our picks for the 12 must-see art exhibits in New York City this fall.

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Top art shows in NYC this fall by date

Marguerite Humeau, 35000 A.C (Sphinx Death Mask), 2018
Photograph: © Virginia Taroni, courtesy the artist, CLEARING New York/Brussels, Archivio Fonderia Artistica Battaglia, Milan
Art, Contemporary art

“Marguerite Humeau: Birth Canal”

icon-location-pin New Museum of Contemporary Art, Lower East Side

Humeau’s first US solo museum exhibition features surreal amorphous sculptures that draw upon the French artist's research into origins of humanity, and the history of language, love, spirituality and war.

Marc Chagall, Self-Portrait with Easel, 1919
Photograph: Private Collection, © Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/ADAGP, Paris
Art, Painting

“Chagall, Lissitzky, Malevich: The Russian Avant-Garde in Vitebsk, 1918-1922”

icon-location-pin The Jewish Museum, Central Park

A look at a brief moment in 20th-century art history when Vitebsk in present-day Belarus became a hotbed of the early-20th century avant-garde thanks to the presence of three giants of Early Russian Modernism: Marc Chagall, El Lissitzky and Kasimir Malevich.

Barkley Hendricks, Blood (Donald Formey), 1975
Photograph: Jonathan Dorado, Brooklyn Museum, Courtesy Dr. Kenneth Montague|The Wedge Collection, Toronto, the artist’s estate and Jack Shainman Gallery, © Estate of Barkley L. Hendricks.
Art, Contemporary art

“Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power”

icon-location-pin Brooklyn Museum Shop, Prospect Park

Works by 60 contributors recall an era in the 1970s when African-American artists grappled with the cultural changes wrought by the Civil Rights movement.

Eugène Delacroix, Self-Portrait with Green Vest, ca. 1837
Photograph: Musée du Louvre, Paris, © RMN–Grand Palais (Musée du Louvre)/Michel Urtado
Art, Painting


icon-location-pin The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Central Park

Hard as it is to believe, this exhibition represents the first-ever comprehensive retrospective in North America devoted to Eugène Delacroix (1798–1863). Joining forces with Musée du Louvre in Paris, the Met offers some 150 paintings, drawings, prints and manuscripts by this towering figure of 19th-century art. Presented chronologically, the show spans Delacroix’s four decades as a central player during a tumultuous period that laid the foundations of modernism

Peter Saul, Government of California, 1969
Photograph: © Peter Saul, courtesy Mary Boone Gallery, New York, collection of Brian Donnelly, New York
Art, Contemporary art

“Everything Is Connected: Art and Conspiracy”

icon-location-pin The Met Breuer, Lenox Hill

Even paranoiacs have real enemies, and sometimes those paranoiacs are artists, too. The truth is out there in this show featuring works that us through the conspiratorial looking glass.

Rendering for “Arlene Shechet, Full Steam Ahead”
Photograph: © Madison Square Park Conservancy
Art, Contemporary art

“Arlene Shechet: Full Steam Ahead”

icon-location-pin Madison Square Park, Flatiron

For this outdoor installation, the artist is arraying a series of quirky abstract sculptures in porcelain, wood and cast iron around Madison Square Park’s central fountain, which has been drained for the occasion. The installation’s title is taken from a famous order given by Admiral David Farragut, whose statue stands nearby, at the Battle of Mobile Bay during the Civil War. When his squadron began to withdraw after one of its ships was sunk, he ordered it to reverse course and charge the harbor. “Damn the torpedoes,” he said, using period nomenclature for mines, “full speed ahead!”

Sarah Lucas, Edith, 2015
Photograph: © Sarah Lucas, courtesy Sadie Coles HQ, London
Art, Contemporary art

“Sarah Lucas: Au Naturel”

icon-location-pin New Museum of Contemporary Art, Lower East Side

One of the bad girls of the original Young British Artists group, Sarah Lucas emerged in the early 1990s with provocative, in-your-face work that, as Brits like to say, took the piss out of attitudes revolving around gender and social norms. Sex, death, abjection and class provided the fodder for satirical jabs at the lofty pretensions of high culture. Scabrous and contentious, Lucas’s work weaponized self-abasement to take on male privilege in the art world and society at large. This exhibit marks her first museum show in the United States.

Hilma af Klint The Ten Largest, No. 7., Adulthood, Group IV, 1907
Photograph: Albin Dahlström/Moderna Museet
Art, Contemporary art

Hilma af Klint

icon-location-pin Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Upper East Side

Hilma af Klint (1862–1944) was a pioneer of abstract painting, though admittedly, something of an accidental one. Although she produced purely non-objective paintings well before the likes of Vassily Kandinsky or Kasimir Malevich, she created them as part of her involvement in occult and mystical practices that sought contact with the spirit realm. When Klint did exhibit, she mostly showed conventional portraits and landscapes. Nonetheless, there’s no denying that the Swedish artist anticipated one of the most important aesthetic revolutions in 20th-century art. This show takes the measure of her singular artistic achievement.

Yasumasa Morimura, Une moderne Olympia, 2018
Photograph: Courtesy the artist and Luhring Augustine, New York, © Yasumasa Morimura
Art, Contemporary art

“Yasumasa Morimura: Ego Obscura”

icon-location-pin Japan Society, Midtown East

Often referred to as the Cindy Sherman of Japan, Yasumasa Morimura has put a gender-bending spin on a photographic genre that might be called performative self-portraiture. Staged entirely for the camera, his work is a form of drag that involves elaborate customs and sets to deconstruct icons of pop culture and art history—and, very often, the overlap between the two. Famous paintings and photos are the grist for his work, which channels Marilyn Monroe, Che Guevara, Frida Kahlo and Vincent Van Gogh, among many others.

Bruce Nauman, Human Nature/Life Death/Knows Doesn’t Know, 1983
Photograph: Los Angeles County Museum of Art, © 2018 Bruce Nauman/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Art, Contemporary art

“Bruce Nauman: Disappearing Acts”

icon-location-pin Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), Midtown West

Both MoMA and its Queens satellite devote space to this unpacking of the work of Bruce Nauman in the biggest retrospective of his career. A Conceptual Art pioneer who led the development of practices such as performance, video and installation art during the 1960s and ’70s, Nauman emphasized process over product, pushing the boundaries of the artist’s role while aggressively interrogating the human condition with pieces that were noted for their piquant psychological insights.

Rochelle Feinstein, Love Vibe, 1999-2014
Photograph: © Adam Reich, courtesy the Artist and Stellar Projects
Art, Contemporary art

“Rochelle Feinstein: Image of an Image”

icon-location-pin Bronx Museum of the Arts, The Bronx

As an art professor at Yale between 1994 and 2018, Feinstein nurtured the talents some of the most familiar names in contemporary art today. Now it’s her turn to shine in this retrospective of her socially-charged abstract paintings.

Andy Warhol, Marilyn Diptych, 1962
Photograph: Tate, London, © The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc./Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Art, Contemporary art

“Andy Warhol—From A to B and Back Again”

icon-location-pin Whitney Museum of American Art, Meatpacking District

In a certain sense, this retrospective of the career of Andy Warhol (1928–1987) is somewhat redundant. After all, if you want to see his work, just look around you: Warhol anticipated our free-market cultural landscape of short attention spans and narcissistic social media engagements. But he also represented a classic example of American self-invention, going from a skinny, nerdy kid from Pittsburgh to the world’s most famous artist. This show, the first major Warhol survey since 1989, takes the measure of his achievements.

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