Fall Museum Preview, Part 1

Image courtesy the Museum of the City of New York.

I don’t enjoy talking about autumn any sooner than I really must, since the whole season, however generally pleasant it typically is, also feels a bit like one long, sad, tediously anxious Sunday before the seemingly interminable, reliably miserable Monday that is winter.

But I do most certainly enjoy the renewed bustle of things that fall brings to the city, especially when it comes to art. Most galleries around town will be kicking back into gear in a couple weeks, but there are plenty of great museum exhibits to add to your calendar now. Here are a handful of shows that are already open, or slated to open sometime next month. Come back to Brooklyn Magazine in early September for a follow-up fall preview piece featuring October and November exhibitions.

Museum of the City of New York
Hip-Hop Revolution
A fair measure of your general awareness of the emergence and rapid spread of hip-hop culture in New York City from the late 70’s to the early 90’s is quite certainly informed almost as much by your familiarity with its related imagery as by your familiarity with its sounds, its performers’ claims to fame, and their often colorful biographies. Check out this show at the Museum of the City of New York to familiarize yourself anew with musicians, tunes and images you might not have thought about, heard or seen in a while, and note how the inherent cool in all of the same somehow never seems to fade. Photographs by Janette Beckman, Joe Conzo and Martha Cooper. Cameos by the Beastie Boys, Afrika Bambaata, Run DMC, et alii. A curiously fitting venue for a show that will probably teach even well-informed aficionados a thing or two. Check your boombox at the door. Or don’t? Through 27 September

Voice, by Katsuhiro Yamaguchi, one of the artists in Take an Object.

Museum of Modern Art
Take an Object
Jasper Johns’ much acclaimed, regularly quoted sketchbook note that reads, “Take an object. / Do something to it. / Do something else to it. / [Repeat.]”—a quote that is also rather often misattributed to any number of his contemporaries, or just to ‘some artist,’ so go ahead and take firm mental note now of the proper noter—seems as fresh and relevant a directive as ever, given that a great deal of artwork produced since Johns gave proper verbiage to this iteratively manipulative, resourcefully pragmatic mode of crafting new forms from found and reappropriated objects has evidenced a similar approach. Indeed, even a great deal of digital art—whether it’s the kind you see in museums or glimpse in the guts of the Internet—seems to follow an analogous rule, yet one that would open instead with, “Take an image,” and of course add “[Share.]” to the end, granting it the brackets from “Repeat.” Like the quote, then, all the work in this materially rich, splendidly chunky show has also remained fresh and relevant, and it includes pieces by Johns, Robert Rauschenberg, Christo, Marisa Merz, Dieter Roth, Niki de Saint Phalle, Betye Saar and many another. A master class in how processes of mashed-up assemblages led to the creation of so many masterpieces—and of a great many more since. Through 28 February

Image courtesy the Brooklyn Museum.

The Brooklyn Museum
Women of York: “Shared Dining”
The layers of sociopolitical interpretability and commentary in this seemingly straightforward exhibition run deep enough to become obscured well beyond the realm of open, public consumption in which you’ll encounter and ponder them. For York is the name of a female correctional facility in Connecticut, and also the presumably at least somewhat rehabilitatively punitive living environs of the ten artists whose several years of collaborative efforts made this exhibition a physical reality— in a setting quite other from that of their day-to-day. Shared Dining takes as source material a piece that was already bursting with forceful feminist significance—Judy Chicago’s The Dinner Party—and renders it significantly more societally explosive, all the while paying respectfully relevant homage thereto. And all the while, employing simplicity and humility. And all the while, arraying its potency. And all the while, merely sitting you down to supper. Don’t want to talk politics at dinner? Too bad, say the Women of York. Because that’s a bullshit practice anyway—and maybe one that complacently feeds into, rather than resolves at all, society’s broader woes. Get over it. Go see this, and think hard about how it got there. And talk with your mouth full. Through 13 September

American Museum of Natural History
Life at the Limits: Stories of Amazing Species
Casual use of the word ‘amazing’ is perhaps one of the most common, I dare say commonly annoying forms of quotidian hyperbole. However, in the context of this AMNH exhibition showcasing a range of truly extraordinary species, many of whom inhabit, indeed thrive in some of the most ostensibly inhospitable, unendurable, ‘unlivable’ nooks, corners and atmospheric strata of our planet, the word ‘amazing’ actually registers as understatement. By introducing you to creatures and plants you’d assume to be fictive if it weren’t for the reliably instructional purview of the host institution, Life at the Limits will likely flip on its head your understanding of lots of other terms as well—the word ‘life,’ for instance. Also, don’t bother guessing what a water bear looks like, or how bizarre the conditions are in which it can somehow get along just fine. Note, though, that it’s also known as a tardigrade, and that it will quickly become one of your favorite critters you’d never heard of. Through 3 January.

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New Museum
Wynne Greenwood: “Kelly”
If you’re at all familiar with the three-person, all-girl band called Tracy + the Plastics, then you might also know that all three involved persons—a.k.a. Tracy, Nikki and Cola, i.e. the entire band—are one and the same person. Or one and the same persona. Or rather, they were one and the same ‘person-cum-persona’ back when the ‘band’ toured around from 1999 to 2006. Well, now ‘they’ are having a sort of reunion or comeback tour—albeit a static sort thereof. That is, the singular performer behind the Tracy + the Plastics project, multi-media artist Wynne Greenwood, is reviving the band by adding a new member—or sound tech, or intern, or protagonistic offshoot?—named Kelly. Meanwhile, Greenwood’s eponymous exhibition at the New Museum is also—if only to further complicate the terms of reference—a six-month residency, during which the artist’s attempts at “culture healing” will take the forms of readings, panel talks and musical performances. And then some, probably. A great exhibit to dig into as soon as it opens, and to keep up with until it closes early next year. Opens 16 September

* * *

Again, check back with us in a couple weeks for exhibitions lined up for later this fall. It’s still summer, after all. Labor Day is still on the horizon. It’s still hot and humid outside, and cryogenically freezing in stores, places of work and movie theaters. So let’s not get our minds any deeper into autumn than we have to at the moment.

In fact, to get our minds back into the current season, take note that several of the exhibitions we recommended to you in our Summer Museum Preview (Part 1 & Part 2) are still on view a little while longer, including Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland at The Morgan, the showing of Picasso’s Le Tricorne at the New-York Historical Society, several shows we pointed out to you at MoMA and MoMA PS1, the Robert Seydel show at the Queens Museum, and Storylines at the Guggenheim.

See? It’s totally still summer. For a minute.

Paul D’Agostino is @postuccio on Instagram and Twitter.

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