Kara Walker at Sikkema Jenkins
Walker has been performing her autopsy on Black history and culture for many years. The artist’s elaborate black construction paper silhouettes are among the most potent and unsettling and, well…”dark” works ever constructed. For the current show entitled “Dust Jackets for the Niggerati-and Supporting Dissertations, Drawings submitted ruefully by Dr. Kara E. Walker,” the artist focuses on a “New Negro” identity, often by presenting stereotypical roles such as the subservient maid and the jazzy chanteuse. The graphite and pastel black and white drawings are more chaotic, with layer upon layer of storytelling, and even more visceral than earlier works. Not to be missed.
Through June 4, 2011
Martin Kippenberger at Luhring Augustine Gallery
Luhring Augustine gallery has always been one of my favorite haunts. The first week in May marks the return of the ghost of Martin Kippenberger, who arguably is never far away from contemporary exhibitions. The show entitled, “I Had a Vision,” promises more of the self-deprecating sculptural gestures that the art world has come to expect from Kippenberger. His domestic twists and turns, most created in the 1990s, are much more than one-liners; they represent an exciting amalgamation of theater, art and the act of facing one’s Freudian selves.
Through June 18th
Berlinscapes at 1500 Gallery
1500 Gallery concentrates on showing the work of Brazilian photographers, and the new color works by the prizewinning artist Tuca Viera were created during the artist’s residency in the German capital. The best of Viera’s work here—starkly lit architectural signatures of Berlin—channels the students of the Bechers. Shot at night and uniformly devoid of human subjects, these images nonetheless focus on only that which is manmade but still mysterious.
Through July 30th
Chris Marker at Peter Blum
For those of us who utilize underground trains to navigate our daily lives, human behavior and notions of personal space are constant interruptions. Like a photographer, we watch others watching themselves. Marker’s “Passengers” series of color images comprises over 200 photographs snapped in the Paris Mètro. This successful exhibition is not so much a comment on city life as a documentation of moments of shared human intimacy and the protective nature of solitude.
Through June 4th
Rob Pruitt: The Andy Monument
Rob Pruitt has been as nearly as visible as Warhol for well over fifteen minutes, deservedly so. His latest artistic gesture, a silver shrine to the quintessential New York artist, stands in the northern part of Union Square more or less life-sized and between the factory where Warhol was shot and the former offices of Interview magazine. Andy stands on a concrete plinth like a heroic figure with a Polaroid camera dangling from his next and a Bloomingdale’s shopping bag at his side. The sculpture is effective for its balanced blend of poignancy and humor. As a piece of public art, Pruitt’s “The Andy Monument” is being viewed by far more people than anything in the Chelsea galleries. I frequently witness passersby glance up at the bespectacled man with a mixture of bemusement and appreciation. Even if they’re tourists, these people seem to understand the concept that most New Yorkers came here, like Warhol himself, to make it big.
On view through October 2, 2011
Glenn Ligon: America at The Whitney Museum of American Art
Ligon, who has finally been discovered by museums and auction houses, is represented here in his first comprehensive mid-career retrospective. The artist is known for pulling no punches in his explorations of race in painting, literature, and American history. This sweeping exhibition includes approximately 100 works by the whip-smart social commentator, including early, previously unseen works. There are those who feel that Ligon’s work is ham-fisted in its activist aesthetic, but until American racism is no longer a part of daily life, this artist’s voice is a welcome one.
Through June 5th
Iva Gueorguieva at BravinLee programs
Gueorguieva’s paper and mixed media constructions are vibrant and unpredictable, each like a mini orchestra playing its raucous tune. The complexity of each piece gives the impression that it argued with its creator over how and when it was definitively finished. An artist with a fresh take on abstraction is always intriguing, and occasionally, like Gueorguieva, actually stimulating.
Through May 27th
Eric Beltz at Morgan Lehman Gallery
A showstopper of an exhibition of drawings with a punning sense of humor and displaying spectacular technical skills, “Trance Farm” is made up of references to “witchcraft, religion, the holy cow of humanist art, counted cross-stitch, and screwed up renderings of mythological narratives.” Anyone who thought that the pencil was a form of obsolete expression should make a point to check out this show.
Through May 14th
“Wrong Place for the Right People” at Bullet Space
A group exhibition with heart. The twelve artists showcased are urban poets with political and sometimes charmingly solipsistic viewpoints. Alexander Rojas, we’re told harvested her own hair for ten years to create her twisted “drawings” on blocks of concrete. The chandelier made from crack pipes and sugar by Ryo Arita is surprisingly elegant in its bearing. And Margaret Weber presents herself as a youthful Yoko Ono when she climbs a ladder and lipsticks the ceiling in “Excuse Me While I Kiss The Sky.” (2011). Worth a visit.
292 East 3rd Street.
Through May 22
Picasso and Marie-Thérèse at Gagosian
There’s no denying that Gagosian Gallery is in a category by itself. The current “museum-quality” exhibition is a tour de force of organization, curatorial acumen and insurance premiums, having borrowed sculptures, paintings and drawings from major museums and important private collections. Without question the young Marie-Thérèse, picked up on the street by Picasso in a chance encounter, is now officially one of the 20th Century’s archetypal muses. The gallery has assembled a love letter of an exhibition that presents the master at his most prolific, horniest, and experimental. Stand in line if necessary and you will be grateful for this, (dare I say?) breathtaking show.
Through June 25th