Sep 22, 2015
Fall Museum Preview, Part 2
I posted the first part of my Fall Museum Preview several weeks ago. It was a roundup of then-current and soon-to-open exhibitions at The New Museum, The American Museum of Natural History, The Brooklyn Museum, The Museum of the City of New York, and MoMA. All of those shows are on view now, so have a look here for links and descriptive notes.
As for Part 2, below are some verbal trailers for a half dozen other exhibitions coming soon to our fine town, including shows at The Neue Galerie, The Noguchi Museum, The Frick Collection, The New-York Historical Society, The Morgan Library & Museum, and The Jewish Museum.
Exhibitional firsts, cultural explosions, hometown superheroes, variable unorthodoxies, philosophical rocks. And then some.
Lots to look forward to. Set your agendas.
Berlin Metropolis: 1918-1933
At once quite keenly historically focused and materially, disciplinarily expansive, this exhibition posits Berlin as a most robust urban exemplar of the creative flourishing that coincided with the interwar patch of German history often referred to as the Weimar period, which, from 1918-1933, was characterized as much by democratic ideals and palpable progress as by all-too-coincident dashings, per financial duress and political disorder, of the same. No less than a socioeconomic, politically restive hot mess, Weimar Germany was also a hotbed of experimentation and notably fast-forwarded advancements in all manner of creative expression, and nowhere was this more candid than in Europe’s allegedly ‘most American’ city at the time, Berlin. In literature, music, architecture, film, fashion and the visual arts, the creative practitioners in this grand metropolis dug deep into the expressive riches of their mediums to explore war and conflict, hope and hardship, post-imperial implosion, and markedly omnivalent industrial explosiveness. It wouldn’t be long before Germany’s incubatory democracy would transition from generally pacific to direly bellicose, but for a little while, its great capital’s creative chemistry and societal circumstances were just right to make for a lot of great art. Expect the multi-media breadth of Berlin Metropolis to explore very similar claims from many different angles. Opens October 1st
The Noguchi Museum
Museum of Stones
While certain formal and conceptual aspects of Museum of Stones seem acutely angled toward straightforwardness and simplicity, there are also strata upon strata—between other strata, like metamorphic layering—of philosophical, creatively regenerative nuances and considerations at work in this expansive gathering of sculptures by over thirty artists, an exhibition that also marks a programmatic first for the Noguchi Museum by including contemporary practitioners. On the one hand, viewers are asked to consider how a formally reciprocal, even ultimately symbiotic relationship between water and stone allows for the two ostensibly dissimilar elements to swap roles, over time, between sculptor and material. On the other hand, viewers are invited to meditatively navigate, with fluid if not all-but-blank modes of thought and expectation, a sculptural realm of general quiet and minimalism. To be sure, few things created or creative are as simple as they seem, and this exhibition seems very well conceived (and appointed, given the relative depth and freshness of the roster) to solicit visitors to ponder similar notions on many levels—or rather, on or between many strata. When you let your feet sink into the sand as the sea’s lappings come ashore, for example, who is the sculptor, the sand or the water? And what, then, are you? And where? The simplest ponderings are sometimes also the vastest. Opens October 7th
The Frick Collection
Andrea del Sarto: The Renaissance Workshop in Action
Andrea del Sarto spent most of his life in Florence, and he spent most of his career as a painter seeking nothing short of carefully achieved, consistent perfection—at least according to contemporary High Renaissance standards, which one might assume were rather lofty. His efforts and achievements most certainly did not go unnoticed in his times, and the artist oversaw a great deal of productivity and a great many estimable commissions in his busy studio—which also served as the training grounds for a number of arguably more famous artists, including Rosso Fiorentino, Jacopo Pontormo and Giorgio Vasari. Despite the same, Andrea’s name is significantly less well-known with respect to his Renaissance peers, and this show at The Frick—on arrival from the Getty Museum, in Los Angeles, and featuring works from a number of institutions in Italy and several other countries—aims to provide a well-intended corrective to precisely that via fifty or so drawings and a few choice paintings. It’s high time, as it were, for this son of a tailor to get a proper historical refitting. Opens October 7th
New-York Historical Society
Superheroes in Gotham
If you were to be asked out of the blue what major metropolis seems the most likely birthplace for comic book superheroes, you might well guess New York City. And if that question were followed up by one about which decade in the 20th century offered up a properly robust mix of internationally inflected sociopolitical flux to give way to the nouveau-mythologizing, individual-apotheosizing, evil-doer-exterminating ideals that are among the hallmarks of superhero narratives, you might well guess the ‘30s or ‘40s, or thereabouts. And according to the New-York Historical Society’s history and chronology, you’d be basically right on both counts. Check out this show not only to get a good long gander at some splendidly inchoate renditions of many of the superheroes you know so well—and maybe love, or at least have no good reason to not continue to like—but also to gain insight into the sometimes surprising directness with which political mores and circumstances from one period to another informed many of these characters’ heroic evolutions. A minor blockbuster of a show filled with the formative kernels of major blockbusters to come, let’s say. Prepare yourself by seeking out the answer to one more question: How did New York City come to be known as Gotham? (And as a corollary to that, are we the goats in that equation?) Opens October 9th
The Morgan Library & Museum
Graphic Passion: Matisse and the Book Arts
The broad range of Matisse’s work, and the apparently unabated burn of his creative drive, have become abundantly more apparent to local audiences over the past year or so, thanks not least to the excellent MoMA exhibition of the artist’s cut-outs. Did you know, though, that Matisse also involved himself with the production of a fair number of books? Almost 50 of them, that is, and over the course of most of his career? Well, now you do. And soon, you’ll have a chance to get a glimpse of several dozen such volumes in which he had a participatory, recognizably deft hand. Graphic Passion is sure to be full of formal, chromatic and bibliophilic joys, and it might also serve as an excellent primer for the Morgan’s exhibition of Warhol’s book art slated for next year. Opens October 30th
The Jewish Museum
If not quite a play on words, the title of this show is at least a play on expectations—or more precisely, on the expected meanings of certain words within certain space-related contexts. In other words, ‘unorthodox’ here is intended to reference a great deal more than that which goes up against, or drifts away from, presumably religious norms. Taking a more secular approach to unpacking the metaphorical implications of orthodoxy and its opposite, the curatorial team behind Unorthodox seeks to explore rule-breaching, norm-questioning, tradition-bucking modes of creativity and art making on several levels—from material and procedural to also, yes, in some cases, spiritual. All that said, the exhibition’s list of artists is long and strong enough to keep you looking forward to its November opening even without all the alleged avant-guardism. Hell, the spread will even feature who-knows-what by William T. Vollmann, a ceaselessly nonconformist eccentric of epic proportions if there ever was one. His contribution will be in the company of over 200 other pieces by over 50 other artists. Should it be that the proverbial ‘grain’ goes forth to see this show, then thou shalt not go against it. Opens November 6th
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