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Article: Top Shows to Catch This Month

March 2018 – Our recommendations to fairs, museum exhibitions and gallery shows happening this weekend and in the month ahead.

The Photography Show presented by AIPAD

A buzzing sea of chic black fills the Armory’s piers at what is one of the most highly-anticipated art fairs of the year. No, this is not The Armory Show—although the event’s location and prestige may prove otherwise. The Photography Show presented by the Association of International Photography Art Dealers (AIPAD) replaces The Armory Show one month later and offers a “one-stop-shop” format for presenting the best in photography, from the historic to the cutting-edge. Now in its 38th iteration, the long-running fair remains fresh and cool with its two special exhibitions, one of which is Time for Reflection curated by the one-and-only Sir Elton John. What’s more, the fair presents a series of eleven talks that each use a photograph as a lens through which conversations regarding racism, immigration, “fake news,” democracy, freedom and equality are framed. Speakers include writer/artist Teju Cole, founder of #BlackLivesMatter Alicia Garza, Whitney curators Adam Weinberg and Elizabeth Sussman, and many more who use deeply personal photography to reflect on the political.

Pier 94
April 4 – 8, 2018

OUT FOR THE CAMERA: The Self Portraits of Leonard Fink

If you’ve not yet kicked your photography itch, visit OUT FOR THE CAMERA: The Self-Portraits of Leonard Fink for a visually and emotionally stunning work from a little-known artist. Documenting queer life in the West Village of the seventies and eighties, the photographs of Leonard Fink (1930-1992) offer a nuanced portrait of a community threatened by AIDS and gentrification in a manner that is at once documentarian yet romantic. Fink’s oeuvre, and the works included in the exhibition by artists such as as Gail Thacker, Tee A. Corinne, Del LaGrace Volcano, Shari Diamond, Stanley Stellar and Frank Hallam, narrate stories of friendship, biography, and youth—without eschewing the political undertones inerent to gay life in the seventies. A peer of Vito Acconci, Gordon Matta-Clark and David Wonjornowitz, Fink We are constantly struck by the beauty of Fink’s subjects yet reminded that Fink’s community is vulnerable, as he catches his subjects during Pride Marches, under abandoned piers, and in crumbling warehouses.

Leslie Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art
26 Wooster Street
January 24 – August 5, 2018

American Gothic: Grant Wood

Apart from the Mona Lisa, there is perhaps no painting more recognizable than Grant Wood’s American Gothic. Traveling to New York from the Art Institute of Chicago, this American masterpiece is now on view at our very own Whitney Museum of American Art. While certain masterpieces only rose to prominence decades after their inception, American Gothic has been lauded by the masses since its inception in 1930, when it was first exhibited by the Art Institute, won Wood a prize of $300 (a lofty sum during the depths of the Great Depression), and was printed in newspapers across the country. Almost a century later, Wood’s portrait of midwestern life is just as evocative: while displaying hyper-realism, every inch of Wood’s canvas is charged with stirring emotion and a sense of uncanny disaster looming in the distance. And while Whitney visitors may initially flock to American Gothic, the entirety of the exhibition, which includes a mural, stained-glass windows, sculptures, paintings and objects all designed by Wood, presents a narrative of an American da Vinci. And while American Gothic may be all but ubiquitous, Wood’s own story is lesser known and just as fascinating. A great midwestern talent whose rich interior life was complex as he dealt with homosexuality and intense relationships with his mother, while he worked as an WPA-artist, school teacher, and world traveler. Wood’s biography emerges as the element of the exhibition that stays with us long after one leaves the exhibition.

Whitney Museum of American Art
99 Gansevoort
March 2 – June 10, 2018

Thomas Cole’s Journey: Atlantic Crossings

Celebrate the arrival of spring with the gorgeous landscapes of Thomas Cole, now on view at the Met. The founder of the Hudson River School, Thomas Cole produced gorgeous, intense and atmospheric landscapes of both an industrializing England and a locale just due north of here. Airy, ethereal, yet tactile, Cole’s body of work provides us with a tale of America that is unspoiled and brimming with opportunity, optimism and peace. Celebrating the 200-year anniversary of Cole’s 1818 emigration from England to the United States, Atlantic Crossings presents a vision of America through the eyes of a recent immigrant. Although these beautiful and historic works were painted now centuries ago, their political themes are undeniably current and provide us with the ability to empathize with a population of American immigrants whose futures are now at risk. Perhaps we can engage the sense of becoming that exude from Cole’s works as we head into our own future.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art
1000 5th Avenue
January 30 – May 13, 2018

Isa Genzen: Sky Energy  

Whimsical as they are bizarre, the avant-garde works of Isa Genzen incorporate diverse and disparate materials in an uncanny display of postmodernism. Now at David Zwirner’s 19th Street Gallery, Sky Energy showcases Genzen’s practice that weaves together various symbols of urban existence and human culture in the post-internet age. Tickling the senses through the use of bright materials, Genzen’s assemblages—some flat and to the wall, others grounded to the round—would verge on being too kitsch if they weren’t so on the nose. Some of the works presented in Zwirner’s airy 19th Street space include cinder blocks weightlessly laser cut to reveal a whole in their center, mannequins adorned with found-materials that tell stories of the Bible or the future, and canvases smattered with emblems of the postmodern city that push the work of Rauschenberg through and beyond the culture of the internet. Ultimately, the presentation of Berlin-based Genzen’s work lures one in with its flashy aesthetics but then leaves one processing the meanings of value and truth in the year 2018.

David Zwirner
533 West 19th Street
February 22 – April 7, 2018

A Mistake is a Beautiful Thing: An Exhibition by Coloured Publishing

A stop at Printed Matter is intellectual candy. Originally founded by artist Lucy Lippard in 1976, the expertly-curated bookstore on the Western-most edge of Manhattan features a rotating exhibition of printed materials that are intellectually and visually rich. Past the shelves of eye-catching zines, emminent art books, vintage catalogues, and posters lies an installation by Los Angeles-based Coloured Publishing, which explores the publishing world’s capacity for creativity and innovation. that engages publishing’s capacity for creativity. Artist Devin Troy Strother and designer Yuri Ogita have steadily produced dizones of editioned works, including art books, zines, loose-leaf pubications, t-shirts, buttons, posters, and more, that explore how people of color can use print to express autonomy and push against boundaries. The display wraps around Printed Matter’s project space and is at once hilarious as it is brilliant. The perfect close to a day of gallery-hopping in Chelsea, a stop at Printed Matter will not disappoint.

Printed Matter
231 11th Avenue
March 16 – May 2, 2018

The Floating World by Emma Sulkowicz

While a freshman at Columbia University, Emma Sulkowicz made headlines nationwide with “Mattress Performance (Carry that Weight)”— an endurance performance piece responding to their school’s (Sulkowicz identifies their gender as non-binary and uses they/them pronouns) mishandling a sexual assault case- where the artist carried their mattress across their back for as long as they went to school with their attacker. Then a studio art major, Sulkowicz’s act— a protest and an artform—began the larger “Carry that Weight” movement, where and students throughout the country now carry their own mattress across campus in defiance of campus sexual assault. Five years later, Saulkowicz is not only an important political figure but a seasoned artist. Now on view in Brooklyn’s The Invisible Dog Center, The Floating World enmeshes the disparate worlds the artist holds dear: that of their Japanese, Chinese, and Jewish ancestors and that of their upbringing in Manhattan. Combining beautiful glass cylinders inspired by Japan’s Edo period with Cheetohs, teapots, pearls, and other artifacts of Sulkowicz’s closest community, these works are transportive yet remain of our universe. Sulkowicz masterfully weaves together high and low, the mass-produced and the handmade, luxury and garbage, to help us make sense of our urban landscapes and personal biographies.

The Invisible Dog Center
51 Bergen Street, Brooklyn
March 10 – April 22, 2018

Rita McBride: Particulates

Using water molecules, surfactant compounds, and the beams of high-intensity lasers as her materials, Rita McBride projects crisscrossing tubes of light that pierce through Dia: Chelsea’s warehouse-like space. The effect is that of a wormhole to another dimension. Brilliant, immersive, green and neon, Particulates transforms Dia: Chelsea’s space into a Ridley Scott universe. McBride’s installation is cutting-edge as it is cutting: while her effect is dazzling, McBride utilizes real lasers that are strong enough to cause physical harm to viewers. Hence, Dia: Chelsea staged the show—housed in a dark warehouse-like space—so that visitors are suspended on a 110-foot metal barrier that physically protects visitors from the McBride’s work. Site-specific to Dia’s Chelsea warehouse, Particulates offers an immersive experience whose presence in space is dangerously palpable.

DIA: Chelsea
541 West 22nd Street
October 17, 2017 – June 2, 2018

Like Life: Color, Sculpture and the Body (1300-now)

Throughout the history of art, the human body has stood as a cite of artistic inquiry and investigation. From the intricate forms of the byzantines to the abstractions of modern sculptors, human representation is turned and returned to—again and again—throughout histories and fields. Now, on view at The Met Breuer, Like Life: Color, Sculpture and the Body presents various versions of human representation. The exhibitions span centuries, cultures, geographies, and representational form: artists include Donatello, El Greco, Auguste Rodin, Edgar Degas, Louise Bourgeois, Meret Oppenheim, Isa Genzken, Fred Wilson, Robert Gober, Jeff Koons, Yinka Shonibare MBE, and more. The Met, however, does not limit its presentation to fine art and includes effigies, reliquaries, mannequins, and anatomical models in tandem with sculptural masterpieces. Part art exhibition, part sociological inquiry, Like Life explores how humans have chosen to represent ourselves and, in so doing, grapple with the deeper existential questions of the meaning of life.

The Met Breuer
945 Madison Avenue
March 21 – July 22, 2018

– Written by Samantha Kohl