This week, The Observer published its annual Fall Arts Preview. Click the slide show to find out what shows you won’t want to miss in the city’s galleries.
Charline von Heyl at Petzel | Through Oct. 3
There’s a lot of abstract painting being made these days. Most of it is instantly forgettable: easy, breezy, bland merchandise. Thankfully, there are painters like the German master Charline von Heyl, whose canvases overflow, elegantly, with witty forms and marks. Her seventh show at Petzel is a reminder of her irreverent talents.
'Draw Gym' at 247365 and Know More Games | Through Oct. 9
Once you meet the artist, musician and all-around creative gadabout Brian Belott, or just encounter a bit of his work (in one of the dozens of mediums he ranges about in), you get the sense that he’s probably having a lot more fun than anyone else in the art game. He’s at the helm of this blowout drawings show, which includes only work in black-and-white by no fewer than 70 artists.
‘Anne Truitt: Threshold: Work From the 1970s' at Matthew Marks Gallery | Through Oct. 26
New Yorkers like to beat up on D.C., but even the most devoted among us fall silent at the mention of Anne Truitt (1921–2004), who lived and worked there for most of her career. Her spare, colored totems offer vigorous medicine for the eye and soul—they’re one of the truly great inventions of the American century. This show looks at her work from the 1970s, including sculptures, paintings and drawings.
'Bjarne Melgaard: Ignorant Transparencies' at Gavin Brown's Enterprise | Through Oct. 26
Norwegian artist Bjarne Melgaard is, by a wide margin, one of the most interesting artists in town. For the past few years, the relentless mid-career provocateur has been rampaging through the New York art world, penning novels, creating installations (one involving two baby tigers), curating shows and showing his own paintings, which are rife with violence, extreme sex and drug use. His work radiates a horrifying, but irresistible, blend of self-love and self-hate.
'A. K. Burns: Ending With a Fugue' at Callicoon Fine Arts | Through Oct. 27
A.K. Burns earned an important place in recent art history in 2010 with Community Action Center, the toothsome, queer, arty pornographic video that she made with A.L. Steiner. She has followed that up with similarly incisive, sensual—if slightly less provocative—work in a variety of mediums. Her second show at Callicoon is hotly anticipated.
Aaron Flint Jamison at Artists Space | Through Nov. 10
Aaron Flint Jamison, co-founder of the intrepid Yale Union nonprofit art space in Portland, Ore., finally gets his first U.S. solo show. His uncanny, unsettling objects result from strange distillations of design, architecture, poetry, publishing and the ready-made. Here’s a representative example: an elegant wall-mounted wooden box filled with equipment for jamming various communication signals. It’s a show destined to launch 1,000 theories.
Michael E. Smith at Clifton Benevento | Opens Nov. 2
A craggy hunk of foam, an old sweatshirt, some blue Bic pens. These are some of Michael E. Smith chosen materials, which he cuts or beats up or melts into objects that, despite their dilapidation, retain a frightening dignity, some silent mark of human life shining through. This is what Isa Genzken’s sculptures will look like in 500 years if they’re not properly cared for. As the built environment descends slowly into hell (and the digital, which may be the same thing), Mr. Smith’s objects are already well past all that trauma. They’re ruins, harboring hints of their inevitable redemption. After a sterling showing at last year’s Whitney Biennial, he has museum shows coming up in Bordeaux and Dallas.
Isaac Julien at Metro Pictures | Opens Nov. 5
The fiercely ambitious London–based filmmaker brings his impressionistic nine-screen film installation Ten Thousand Waves (2010) to MoMA beginning on Nov. 25. For his fifth show at Metro Pictures, he will present photographs and excerpts from a new noir-ish film, Playtime: Capital, which concerns the global financial crisis, jumping among characters known simply, and ominously, as the Artist, the Auctioneer, and the Hedge Fund Manager, based, respectively, in New York, London and Dubai.
Ad Reinhardt at David Zwirner | Opens Nov. 7
You could make a case that Ad Reinhardt (1913–67) is the most influential postwar abstract painter for young artists today. The delicate gradations of tone in his well-loved monochromes—carefully nested squares of almost but not quite identical colors—prefigure the way today’s painters toy with the visibility of marks on their surfaces, and his hilarious cartoons and quips— “art is too serious to be taken seriously”—suggest someone cheerily operating outside the confines of a particular aesthetic ideology. At Zwirner, which recently began representing the Reinhardt estate, former MoMA chief curator Robert Storr is guest-curating a show that covers Reinhardt’s entire career, including a group of those tricky black paintings.
‘Willem de Kooning: Ten Paintings, 1983–1985’ at Gagosian Gallery | Opens Nov. 8
By the mid-1980s, some believed Willem de Kooning had lost it. His paintings showed signs of dementia, or the handiwork of overeager assistants, they said. MoMA curator emeritus John Elderfield went a long way toward rectifying this impression in 2011, with a few canvases from that period in his MoMA retrospective of de Kooning, and the paintings looked beautifully fresh—airy lyrical abstractions that gently transmit a startling sophistication. Now working for Gagosian, that master of late-late rejuvenation, Mr. Elderfield will attempt to seal the case. Only a fool would bet against a de Kooning-Gogo-Elderfield triumvirate.
© 2013 The Willem de Kooning Foundation/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photo by Tim Nighswander/IMAGING4ART, courtesy the Willem de Kooning Foundation, New York
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