Check out the best group exhibitions at galleries this summer

Written by
Howard Halle

It’s summer in the art world, which can only mean one thing, besides weekends in the Hamptons—group shows of artists! Galleries all over town from Chelsea and Uptown to the Lower East Side and Brooklyn are mounting exhibits that are usually thematic in nature, mainly as a way of tying disparate works of art together. Sometimes the shows are organized by outside curators and sometimes by the galleries themselves. Whatever the case, they offer an opportunity to take in multiple artistic sensibilities in one shot. Granted, there are a lot of shows out there this summer, but to help you choose, we offer our pick of the best.

Mernet Larsen, Sunday Drive, 1986
Photograph: Courtesy the artist and James Cohan, New York

“Dream Machines”
Fantasy converges with reality in this collection of works by eight artists, six of whom are represented by the gallery. Be on the lookout for Lee Mullican’s ink drawings and acrylics on paper from the 1940s and ’60s and Mernet Larsen’s oils from the 1980s. Like many of the other artists here, both share a knack for rendering surreal humanoid figures.
James Cohan Gallery, 533 W 26 St (212-714-9500, Through July 28.

Ed Ruscha, Give Him Anything And He'll Sign It, 1965
Photograph: Courtesy the artist, Gagosian and Gladstone Gallery

“Fall is Cancelled”
This blue-chip gallery delivers a show of blue-chip artists (Maurizio Cattelan, Mike Kelley, Ed Ruscha, among others) to match. Each presents a meditation on nature that reverberates with unsettling vibes.
Gladstone 64, 130 E 64th St (212-753-2200, Through July 28.

Sam McKinniss Ellie Sattler, 2017
Photograph: Courtesy JTT

References to pop culture and incidents from history (many of them unhappy) inform this exhibit that combines lively works with a downbeat show title. On view are paintings, sculptures and ceramic objects, including Sam McKinniss’s portrait of Laura Dern as Ellie Sattler awaiting the terror to come in in Jurassic Park; Liz Craft’s tile-plaque depictions of mushrooms memorializing the counterculture; and William Hawkins’s signboard vision of the Loch Ness Monster.
JTT, 191 Chrystie St (212-574-8152, Through July 28.

Jim Shaw Untitled, 2016
Photograph: Courtesy Metro Pictures

“A New Ballardian Vision”
As part of the sprawling “CONDO Complex New York” program of exchange exhibitions between New York galleries and their counterparts around the world, Shanghai dealer Leo Xu has organized this round-up sparked by the writings of J.G. Ballard. Unsurprisingly, the show shares the author’s dystopian outlook, with works delving into themes of environmental degradation and society run amok. The roster includes such Metro Pictures artists as Robert Longo, Jim Shaw and Cindy Sherman.
Metro Pictures, 519 W 24th St (212-206-7100, Through Aug 4.

Nicola Tyson, Dancing Figure #1, Dancing Figure #1, 2016
Photograph: Courtesy the artist and Petzel, New York

This showcase of gallery artists focuses on figurative sculptures with a decidedly odd bent. Among the standouts are Keith Edmier’s bubblegum-pink depiction of the mythological figure, Medea (the original bad mom); Jon Pylypchuk’s variation on Michelangelo’s Pietà, substituting tennis rackets for the original subjects; Nicola Tyson’s duet of dancers cobbled together out of pieces of chopped firewood; and Sean Landers bronze of the Greek god Pan wearing a Scottish kilt.
Petzel Gallery, 456 W 18th St (212-680-9467, Through Aug 4.

Michael Mahalchick, Package 3, 2014
Photograph: Courtesy the artist and Klaus von Nichtssagend Gallery

“Baggage Claim”
Up in the air might be the best description for the theme of this show in which baggage, both literal and emotional, is the unifying thread tying together eight artists whose works make a metaphorical connection between travel and angst. Michael Mahalchick clear-plastic storage cases filled with personal items are the fairy direct on that score; so, too, are Alessandro Teoldi’s images of nervous hands sewn together out of pieces of airline blankets. Joy Curtis and Cheyenne Julien are among the other artists here.
Klaus von Nichtssagend Gallery, 54 Ludlow St (212-777-7756, Through Aug 5.

Haas Brothers, Joshua Free, 2014
Photograph: Joe Kramm, © Haas Brothers

Boesky Gallery borrows the name for this show from Louise Bourgeois’s sculptural series of the same name. As their title suggests, Bourgeois’s “Cells” comprise large metal cages containing arrangements of objects that reverberate with a sense of isolation and despair. Those same feelings pervade this show spread out over both Boesky locations, which features nine artists offering works that range from Jackson Hutchins’ papier mache couch to sound artist Jennie C. Jone’s “acoustic abstractions.”
Marianne Boesky Gallery, 507 W 24th St + 509 W 24th St (212-680-9889, 
Through Aug 11.

Joanna Pousette-Dart, 3 Part Variation #11, 2017
Photograph: Jack Hems, © The Artist

“Aspects of Abstraction”
Color and composition are on the menu in this multi-generational survey of geometric abstractionists—among them Minimalism pioneer Leon Polk Smith. Marina Adams, Paul Feeley and Joanna Pousette-Dart round out the exhibition, which includes artist-related ephemera (e.g, Feeley’s handmade studio calendar), as well as paintings.
Lisson Gallery, 138 Tenth Ave (212-505-6431, Through Aug 11.

Isabella Kirkland, Nudibranchia 2014
Photograph: ©Isabella Kirkland, courtesy Matthew Marks Gallery

“So I traveled a great deal….”
Organized by Vincent Fecteau, one of Matthew Marks’s artists, and curator Jordan Stein, “So I traveled a great deal…” focuses on the work of six, under known, Northern California artist whose careers stretch back for decades. The show’s stated aim is to uncover “the ahead-of-its-time, the hard-to-classify, the ecstatic, the hermetic and the strange,” and certainly delivers as much with such works as Isabella Kirkland’s paintings of neon-colored mollusks against stark black backgrounds; Jack Mendenhall photorealistic takes on luxe domestic interiors from the 1970s and ’80s; and Robert Strini elaborately biomorphic sculptures in laminated wood.
Matthew Marks Gallery, 522 W 22nd St (212-243-0200,

Grace Hartigan, Hollywood Interior, 1993
Courtesy ACA Galleries

Elaine, Let’s Get the Hell Out of Here”
A refusal to be pigeonholed—stylistically, personally, culturally or otherwise—seems to be the governing sentiment in this selection of works spanning five generations of artists. The show’s title is taken from what Joan Mitchell reportedly said to Elaine De Kooning when a man came up to them once at a party and asked, rather obtusely, “What do you women artists think….” Mitchell and De Kooning contribute works here, along with other figures of their milieu such as Grace Hartigan and Joan Snyder. They are joined by mid-career and emerging artists who all express an I-gotta-be-me attitude.
Nicelle Beauchene Gallery, 327 Broome St (212-375-8043, Through Aug 18.

Matthew Hansel, Now I Know I Am Seen. I Have A Shadow, 2017
Photograph: Courtesy the artist

“The Curators’ Eggs”
Thirteen curators select one artist each for this show, which emphasizes work that keeps its art-historical influences close to the surface. Matt Hansel juxtaposes kitsch, cartoons and liberal quotations from Old Master and Modernist painting; Ivy Haldeman condenses the tradition of depicting the female form into lady hotdog figures. Pieter Schoolwerth, meanwhile, messes with pictorial space.
Paul Kasmin, 293 Tenth Ave (212-563-4474, Through Aug 18.

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