nyc art scene

a carefully curated calendar & cumulative catalog of new york city's most interesting art exhibitions and events. hand picked by Arthur Seen & Team

continues thru Jan 22:

Christopher Wool

Guggenheim, 1071 5th Ave., NYC

“Over a career that spans three decades, Christopher Wool has conducted a riveting investigation into the question of how to make a painting at a time when new possibilities for the medium might seem exhausted… Wool was born in 1955 and grew up in Chicago. By the time that he turned eighteen he had moved to downtown New York City, where the anarchic energy of the punk and No Wave scenes were a defining influence on his creative development. At the outset of his mature career in the mid-1980s, Wool abstained from the seductive expressionism of color and the gestural brushstroke in favor of stark, monochrome compositions that employed commercial tools and imagery appropriated from mass culture. His breakthrough body of work used rollers and stamps to transfer decorative patterns in severe black enamel to a white ground. His “word paintings” from the same period focused on language as image, confronting the viewer
 with anxious, enigmatic imperatives even as the stenciled letters disintegrate into abstract geometries. In both cases, Wool used unexpected breakdowns in his formal systems—slips and glitches, fractured text and erratic spacing—to convey emotional states ranging from pathos to aggression… Since the early 2000s, Wool has worked almost entirely with abstract forms, at once mediating and renewing the expressive potential of painting through strategies of replication, erasure, and digital manipulation.”

thru Sept 2:

The Civil War and American Art

The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1000 Fifth Ave., NYC (at 82nd Street)

"This major loan exhibition considers how American artists responded to the Civil War and its aftermath. Landscapes and genre scenes—more than traditional history paintings—captured the war’s impact on the American psyche. The works of art on display trace the trajectory of the conflict and express the intense emotions that it provoked: unease as war became inevitable, optimism that a single battle might end the struggle, growing realization that fighting would be prolonged, enthusiasm and worries alike surrounding emancipation, and concerns about how to reunify the nation after a period of grievous division. The exhibition proposes significant new readings of many familiar masterworks—some sixty paintings and eighteen photographs created between 1852 and 1877—including outstanding landscapes by Frederic E. Church and Sanford R. Gifford, paintings of life on the battlefront and the home front by Winslow Homer and Eastman Johnson, and photographs by Timothy H. O’Sullivan and George N. Barnard."

nycARTscene Interview: Pavel Acosta

Pavel Acosta’s site-specific artwork, “Wallscape,” was recently installed directly upon a wall in El Museo del Barrio’s permanent collection gallery. The large scale collage will be featured in El Museo’s upcoming biennial exhibition “La Bienal 2013: HERE IS WHERE WE JUMP" opening June 12th, 2013.

nycARTscene contributor Keith Schweitzer leads us in conversation with the artist:

KS: You recently installed an artwork directly upon a wall in El Museo del Barrio’s Permanent Collection gallery. The wall is scraped almost completely raw of paint, leaving only a large rectangular section at the wall’s center, within which we find a meticulously detailed collage. Please explain the collage and the process used to create it.

PA: My work at El Museo del Barrio is titled “Wallscape.”

In the process of making it I actually scraped the whole wall. I lifted all the existing layers of paint I found on the wall — about five of them— until reaching the brown paper of the sheetrock. Only then, I started pasting the scraped paint chips back again, to make a collage. It has been a long process that always starts by classifying the different textures and colors found in my scrapings. Although the material found was pretty homogeneous, there were different tones of white and beige, which allowed me to re-create the forms and contrasts in the picture.

I wanted to reproduce the piece that was in front of the wall I was assigned to. I was not thinking of any specific image, but Macarulla’s painting was perfect. It is a very challenging image, colorful and baroque, and I needed to achieve it with a very limited palette. On the other hand, this process is a way for me to engage in the dialog with the history of the institution, because these walls have accumulated layers and layers of paint that relate the stories which other artists have come to tell, throughout the years.

KS: Years back, you began a series, “Stolen Paint,” while living in Havana, Cuba. Please describe this series and the motivations behind it.

PA: Back then, I decided I needed to find the way to make a living as an artist, and I did it through stealing —in the middle of the economic crisis in Cuba everyone was doing that. As a painter I use pigments, and I realized I could obtain them from anywhere in the city without buying expensive art materials. The streets of Havana are filled with aging and falling bits of paint, as buildings and objects are not regularly maintained. I started scraping layers of paint and using them to create collages on canvas and on paper. I found a range of possibilities this way. This variety made every collage different. The quality of the paint chips would determine the look and style of the work. I developed an ability to adapt myself to whatever I found, and I thought this was interesting, both formally and conceptually. The recycling and re-utilizing of found materials somehow echoed the whole Cuban experience of the time.

KS: While viewing your “Wallscape” at El Museo, there is no placard or signage to indicate who or what we are looking at. It’s as if a vandal broke into the museum, destroyed a wall, and left behind a gift in the form of an artwork. Gazing across the gallery, we realize that what we’ve been looking at is a reproduction of Manuel Macarulla’s painting, “Goat Song #5: Tumult on George Washington Avenue.” You’ve previously described yourself as a thief and here appear to be a vandal. Are you either of these things?

PA: Sure. I am possibly a thief and definitely a vandal. However, I am not sure whether it is a bad thing to be. I have been destroying one of the Museo’s walls, and copying another artist. Only I did not break in, they just let me in this time.

KS: Why did you choose Manuel Macarulla’s painting?

PA: I didn’t choose that specific work; the curators did. They assigned me that wall, and Macarulla´s work was across from the wall. All I knew was I wanted to reproduce whatever work was in front of my wall; even a sculpture if that was the case. I am very happy it was Macarulla’s though, because of what I explained before.

KS: How long have you been living and working in New York? Do you feel that New York has influenced your work and artistic practices in any form? How has your experience at El Museo affected you?

PA: I came to New York two years ago, and the experience has definitively changed my work. I still am in the process of digesting the vastness of what this city offers visually, and even materially. Looking at my former work in Cuba, I realize that the person who started the Stolen Paint series has very different concerns now. The links between the technique employed and the context where my collages were generated have definitively disappeared. I felt I had to re-think my approach to painting and to art as a whole, in relationship with new subjects and issues. I am opening up to new possibilities, including developing site-specific projects, such as Wallscape. This is only my first intervention in a U.S. Museum, where the relationship between the artist and the institution is quite different. I really appreciate this great opportunity at El Museo.

"Wallscape" will be featured as part of El Museo’s Bienal, but in the context of the permanent collection galleries, and it will be on view for almost a year. I look forward to the reaction of the audience to the dynamics that this work activates inside the gallery.

Pavel Acosta: pavelacosta.com

Keith Schweitzer: keithschweitzer.com

Video of the installation: https://vimeo.com/67144633

El Museo del Barrio: elmuseo.org
1230 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10029 (at 104th Street)

Since its first edition in 1999, La Bienal – formerly known as The (S) Files – has been a significant means for creating ties between institutions and artists, while building networks and opportunities for a wide variety of talented Latino artists.

images courtesy of El Museo del Barrio and the artist

thru July 28:“Watercolors” John Singer SargentBrooklyn Museum, 200 Eastern Parkway, Brooklyn , NYC (at Prospect Park)"Sargent fans and watercolor hobbyists will be in heaven with more than 90 watercolors, more than a third of which are from the Brooklyn collection, the rest from Boston. Sargent was a pioneer of the kind of watercolor painting — loosely gestural yet clearly representational of vacation scenery — that today’s popular culture adores. The Brooklyn Museum has introduced a novel way to appeal to Sargent’s following. Here and there throughout the exhibition videos on little flat screens show artists demonstrating watercolor techniques used in nearby paintings." - Ken Johnson, NY Times

thru July 28:

Watercolors
 John Singer Sargent

Brooklyn Museum, 200 Eastern Parkway, Brooklyn , NYC (at Prospect Park)

"Sargent fans and watercolor hobbyists will be in heaven with more than 90 watercolors, more than a third of which are from the Brooklyn collection, the rest from Boston. Sargent was a pioneer of the kind of watercolor painting — loosely gestural yet clearly representational of vacation scenery — that today’s popular culture adores. The Brooklyn Museum has introduced a novel way to appeal to Sargent’s following. Here and there throughout the exhibition videos on little flat screens show artists demonstrating watercolor techniques used in nearby paintings." - Ken Johnson, NY Times

thru Feb 25:

Tokyo 1955–1970: A New Avant-Garde

MoMA, 11 West 53rd, NYC (6th Floor Gallery)

With roughly three hundred works by some sixty artists, “Tokyo 1955–1970” presents an extensive roster of art produced in the capital of Japan during this key period. The exhibition .. encompasses not only Gutai, Anti-Art, and Non-Art—movements that have been well known in the US for some time—but also aspects of postwar Japanese art hitherto less known in the Western Hemisphere, including the graphic realism of Hiroshi Nakamura and Tiger Tateishi and intermedia projects by the collective Jikken Kōbō (Experimental Workshop). The heterogeneity of material in the show—ranging from painting, sculpture, photography, and film to performance, design, and architecture—demonstrates that the history of the avant-garde in Tokyo was not monolithic, but instead made up of multiple compelling narratives that paralleled other developments in radical art around the globe. — Reiko Tomii, ArtForum

PDF Catalog can be viewed here: (LINK large file, new window)
interactive exhibit supplement here: (LINK full browser recommended)

thru Oct 8: Rineke Dijkstra: a retrospectiveGuggenheim Museum, 1071 5th Ave, NYC (at 89th St.)this retrospective brings together more than 70 photographs and five videos in a major mid-career survey, offering the most comprehensive presentation of the artist’s work to date. Since the early 1990s, Rineke Dijkstra has produced a complex body of photographic and video work, offering a contemporary take on the genre of portraiture.

thru Oct 8:

Rineke Dijkstra: a retrospective

Guggenheim Museum, 1071 5th Ave, NYC (at 89th St.)

this retrospective brings together more than 70 photographs and five videos in a major mid-career survey, offering the most comprehensive presentation of the artist’s work to date. Since the early 1990s, Rineke Dijkstra has produced a complex body of photographic and video work, offering a contemporary take on the genre of portraiture.

Continues thru Sept 23:

Edouard Vuillard: “A Painter and His Muses" 1890-1940

The Jewish Museum, 1109 Fifth Ave., NYC (@ 92nd St.)
Admission $7.50+, Saturdays Free, Closed Wednesdays

Featuring some fifty key artworks in various media, this exhibition offers a fresh view of the French artist Edouard Vuillard’s career, from the vanguard 1890s to the urbane domesticity of the lesser-known late portraits. The presentation focuses on the inspiration provided by friends and patrons whose support became inseparable from the artist’s achievement.

Ongoing:”Connecting Cultures: A World in Brooklyn”Brooklyn Museum, 200 Eastern Parkway, Brooklyn, NYsubway: 2/3 to Eastern Parkway / Brooklyn MuseumThis innovative, cross-cultural installation was developed to create new ways of looking at art by making connections between cultures as well as objects. In viewing the juxtaposition of thematically linked works, visitors are invited to consider the importance of place, of self-representation in art, and of the role that objects play in supporting personal and cultural identity. Works on display include Gaston Lachaise’s monumental Standing Woman, Nick Cave’s Soundsuit, and kero cups used in Andean ritual.

Ongoing:

Connecting Cultures: A World in Brooklyn

Brooklyn Museum, 200 Eastern Parkway, Brooklyn, NY
subway: 2/3 to Eastern Parkway / Brooklyn Museum

This innovative, cross-cultural installation was developed to create new ways of looking at art by making connections between cultures as well as objects. In viewing the juxtaposition of thematically linked works, visitors are invited to consider the importance of place, of self-representation in art, and of the role that objects play in supporting personal and cultural identity. Works on display include Gaston Lachaise’s monumental Standing Woman, Nick Cave’s Soundsuit, and kero cups used in Andean ritual.

Ongoing:”American Identities: A New Look”Brooklyn Museum, 200 Eastern Parkway, Brooklyn, NYsubway: 2/3 to Eastern Parkway / Brooklyn MuseumThis major installation of more than three hundred fifty objects from the Brooklyn Museum’s premier collection of American art integrates a vast array of fine and decorative arts (silver, furniture, ceramics, and textiles) ranging in date from the colonial period to the present. For the first time, major objects from these exceptional collections are joined by selections from the Museum’s important holdings of Native American and Spanish colonial art.
Artists include: John Singleton Copley, Thomas Cole, Albert Bierstadt, Herter Brothers, Union Porcelain Works, Thomas Eakins, John Singer Sargent, Augustus Saint-Gaudens, Frank Lloyd Wright, Marsden Hartley, Georgia O’Keeffe, William Edmondson, David Smith, Richard Diebenkorn, and Robert Colescott.

Ongoing:

American Identities: A New Look

Brooklyn Museum, 200 Eastern Parkway, Brooklyn, NY
subway: 2/3 to Eastern Parkway / Brooklyn Museum

This major installation of more than three hundred fifty objects from the Brooklyn Museum’s premier collection of American art integrates a vast array of fine and decorative arts (silver, furniture, ceramics, and textiles) ranging in date from the colonial period to the present. For the first time, major objects from these exceptional collections are joined by selections from the Museum’s important holdings of Native American and Spanish colonial art.

Artists include: John Singleton Copley, Thomas Cole, Albert Bierstadt, Herter Brothers, Union Porcelain Works, Thomas Eakins, John Singer Sargent, Augustus Saint-Gaudens, Frank Lloyd Wright, Marsden Hartley, Georgia O’Keeffe, William Edmondson, David Smith, Richard Diebenkorn, and Robert Colescott.

Thru May 20:”1950s New York Street Stories” Frank Oscar LarsonQueens Museum, Flushing Meadows Corona Park, Queens, NYThis exhibition is compiled from thousands of negatives recently discovered stored away in Larson’s daughter-in-law’s house in Maine.

Thru May 20:

1950s New York Street Stories
 Frank Oscar Larson

Queens Museum, Flushing Meadows Corona Park, Queens, NY

This exhibition is compiled from thousands of negatives recently discovered stored away in Larson’s daughter-in-law’s house in Maine.