The top 10 NYC gallery exhibitions in September

Check out our list of the best gallery shows of painting, sculpture and more opening during the first weeks of September
Os Gemeos, O Pato Rei (The King Duck), 2016
Photograph: Max Yawney
By Howard Halle |
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Labor Day is almost here, which means the end of summer is nigh and the art world’s sleepy season is almost over. Most of the top art galleries in Chelsea, the Lower East Side and Uptown have been closed for August, but they’re about to come roaring back to life with dozens of new shows in September—including many featuring hot young talents. To help mark your art calendars, we’ve assembled the best art shows to see when the art world re-opens next month.

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Gallery exhibitions in September

Ryan Gander, installation view
Jack Hems
Art, Contemporary art

“Ryan Gander: I see straight through you”

This British Conceptualist is something of a prankster, and in for his first solo show in New York since 2008, he brings his considerable wit to bear on the “psychology of the body” and the figurative tradition in art. One of the highlights includes a follow-up to his Magnus Opus from 2013: A pair of cartoonish animatronic eyes embedded straight within the wall; activated by motion-detectors, they follow you around the room in a way that’s both amusing and disturbing.

Ryan Gander, installation view
Photograph: Jack Hems

Jeff Elrod, Rubber-Miro, 2015
Farzad Owrang
Art, Contemporary art

Jeff Elrod, “This Brutal World”

For this two-space show, Elrod combines acrylic, silk screen and digital printing to create abstractions poised between the art-historical conventions of pictorial space and the limitless dimensions of the virtual world. Color fields with an airbrushed feel and nervous scrawls created in negative by painting over tape give his canvases (which are sometimes shaped) the look of futuristic, deconstructed graffiti.

Jeff Elrod, Rubber-Miro, 2015
Photograph: Farzad Owrang

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Os Gemeos, O Pato Rei (The King Duck), 2016
Max Yawney
Art, Contemporary art

Os Gêmeos, “Silence of the Music”

Twin brothers Gustavo and Otavio Pandolfo are the brains behind this collaborative art duo from Brazil that’s been tearing up the international street-art and gallery scene since the 1980s. For its gallery debut, pair brings its signature, yellowed-faced characters indoors with an immersive installation that combines drawing, painting, collage, mixed media sculpture, audio and kinetic elements.

Os Gemeos, O Pato Rei (The King Duck), 2016
Photograph: Max Yawney

Aaron Curry, Untitled, 2016
Fredrik Nilsen
Art, Contemporary art

“Aaron Curry: Headspace”

Curry has made a name for himself with sculptures and mixed-media assemblages that raid the closet of early-20th-century art history, mixing and matching forms from a who’s who of modernism that includes Alexander Calder, Joan Miró and Pablo Picasso, among others. This is a good thing or a bad thing, depending on your tastes, but his millennial remixes of the classics are never anything but bold. For this show, he focuses on paintings, spicing his usual stew with visual cues borrowed from comics, sci-fi illustration and ’60s California Kustom Kulture.

Aaron Curry, Untitled, 2016
Photograph: Fredrik Nilsen

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Richard HawkinsThe Great War, 2016
Courtesy the artist and Greene Naftali
Art, Contemporary art

Richard Hawkins, “Norogachi: Ceramics After Artaud”

Hawkins presents the latest in a series of ceramic plaques based on the talismanic, visionary drawings made by French avant-garde dramatist and poet Antonin Artaud while Artaud was a psychiatric patient during the late ’30s and ’40s. Hawkins’s work channels the anguished, incandescent spirit of the originals, which Artaud created as a form of therapy (or exorcism, as he put it) for the mental illness that consumed the final years of his life.

Richard Hawkins, The Great War, 2016
Photograph: Courtesy the artist and Greene Naftali

SLAVS and TATARS, Love Letters No. 9, 2014
Courtesy the artists and Tanya Bonakdar Gallery
Art, Contemporary art

“Slavs and Tatars: Afteur Pasteur”

This Eastern European art collective describes itself as "a faction of polemics and intimacies devoted to an area east of the former Berlin Wall and west of the Great Wall of China"—in other words, that region of the world buffeted by cultural and political crosswinds from Europe, Asia and the Middle East. Humor is a key component of their practice, which includes publications and performances, as well as installations and other works of art.

SLAVS and TATARS, Love Letters No. 9, 2014
Photograph: Courtesy the artists and Tanya Bonakdar Gallery

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Rashid Johnson, Untitled Escape Collage, 2016
© The artist
Art, Contemporary art

Rashid Johnson, “Fly Away”

Johnson has proven to be one of the more significant figures to have emerged from the Studio Museum in Harlem’s breakout "Freestyle" show of 2001, which signaled a key shift in contemporary African-American art away from the polemic approach of 1990s identity art towards a nuanced reading of race based on more subjective perspective. For Johnson, this has meant work that metaphorically relays the experience of African-American men as they negotiate the hazards of white privilege and racism. His latest show takes its title from “I’ll Fly Away,” an old spiritual which speaks to the desire to escape earthly troubles for heavenly redemption. The song's theme serves as the jumping off point for Johnson’s latest show, which includes an immersive installation.

Rashid Johnson, Untitled Escape Collage, 2016
Photograph: © The artist

Random InternationalBlur Mirror, 2016, detail
Damian Griffiths
Art, Contemporary art

Random International

The the art and design studio behind the hugely popular Rain Room at MoMA in 2013 returns with more examples of digitally-aided legerdemain, including an interactive, full-length “mirror” that blurs your refection.

Random International, Blur Mirror, 2016, detail
Photograph: Damian Griffiths

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McDermott and McGough, The Pink Cell, 1984/2016
Matthew Booth
Art, Contemporary art

McDermott & McGough, “Velvet Rage, Flaming Youth, and the Gift of Desperation”

This dapper art duo emerged in the 1980s with work that filtered Queer Aesthetics through a Edwardian lens. Over the years they’ve produced a considerable output of paintings, sculptures, photos and films, all of them tied together with 24/7 performance in which the pair not only appear in public dressed as fin de siècle dandies, but also live as people did in 19th-century New York, without benefit of electric lighting and indoor plumbing. This show, their debut with the gallery, features work that takes a retrospective look at their own oeuvre, as well as other pieces that focus on the theme of self-pleasuring, including one sculptural tableau built as a shrine to Onan the Masturbator.

McDermott and McGough, The Pink Cell, 1984/2016
Photograph: Matthew Booth

Peter Cain, EP 110, 1992
Courtesy Matthew Marks Gallery
Art, Contemporary art

Peter Cain

This pocket retrospective features the work of a painter whose career was cut short at age 37 by a cerebral hemorrhage. Cain emerged in the late 1980s as a sort of pop-cultural precisionist best-known for limning surreal renderings of automobiles in creamy passages of color. Based on ads and depicted in profile or head on, these vehicles were elided in such a way that, for example, the rear and front fenders of a race car were consolidated into a single form, balanced on one wheel. Similarly, he painted gas stations in which all semblance of signage was removed, leaving buildings and gas pumps as abstracted shapes stranded in settings evoking the eerie tone of Giorgio de Chirico’s empty plazas.  Another series of images featured the figure of his boyfriend lying on the beach, taking on the monumentality of a landscape. Cain’s enigmatic compositions used editing as a metaphor for loss while also foiling expectations of what a picture should be.

Peter Cain, EP 110, 1992
Photograph: Courtesy Matthew Marks Gallery

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