By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
Many exhibitions in the city this fall, chief among them the Guggenheim mothership's big survey, "Brazil: Body and Soul," should add to Brazil's mystique as a land of sensuality, excess, physicality, and carnivalesque extremes. Ranging across four centuries of this country's complex multiculture, it has a showstopping opener: an enormous (and enormously elaborate) baroque altarpiece, from a monastery in the Amazonian northeast, that should give Frank Lloyd Wright's rotunda a run for the money. Larger than most Manhattan apartments, the structure measures a humongous 40 by 30 by 15 feet.
Ranging from feather capes by indigenous artists to Ernesto Neto's spicy amorphous panty-hose installation work, and from Afro-Brazilian slave jewelry and ritual objects to the tropical modernist works of the 1920s (such as that of Tarsila do Amaral, whose 1929 painting, Anthropophagy, tweaks Picasso and Rousseau) as well as the radical experimental oeuvres of the 1960s, "Brazil: Body and Soul" promises to be a vast and unwieldy blockbuster. But presenting grand, preposterous, and sometimes compromised visions is the Guggenheim's forte. This omnivorous exhibition could be an enlightening initiation into the constants, variables, and parameters of the Brazilian sensibility, orwho knowsa revelation that there is no single such thing.
"O Fio da Trama/The Thread Unraveled: Contemporary Brazilian Art" at El Museo del Barrio (October 12- January 31, 1230 Fifth Avenue, 831-7272) picks up where the Gugg's exhibition leaves off. With nearly 50 drawings, sculptures, photographs, and installations done during the past decade by some 20 younger and newer Brazilian artistssome showing in New York for the first timeEl Museo del Barrio brings the Guggenheim survey up to date and counters its grandiose, scattershot approach by concentrating on a single connective theme. Focusing on pieces that use thread or fabric, this exhibition makes the point that in the work of many Brazilian artists, sewing, weaving, and embroidery are more than crafty techniques: They're flexible metaphors for society.
If that isn't enough, a few Chelsea galleries get into the spirit by showing Brazilian artists this fall. Miguel Rio Branco, whose photographs are at the Gugg, shows an installation with slide projections and sound, titled "Between the Eyes, the Desert," at D'Amelio Terras (October 13-November 10, 525 West 22nd Street, 352-9460). São Paulo native Jac Leirner, whose elegantly minimal calling-card works have to do not only with identity but with her globe-hopping, equator-crossing, peripatetic life, alights at Brent Sikkema (October 20-November 17, 530 West 22nd Street, 929-2262). And Valeska Soares does an installation about borders and infinite space at Liebman Magnan (November 6-December 29, 552 West 24th Street, 255-3225).
And just in case you haven't guessed the ulterior motives behind this Brazilian extravaganza, here's a clue: The multinational McGugg hopes to open one or more branches in Brazil.
September 5-October 13
Alexander and Bonin Gallery, 132 Tenth Avenue, 367-7474
Out of the mists of history comes this legendary free spirit's celebratory "Drawings, Signs,and Beaux 1974-1976."
Best-known here for his glorious floor stripings of colored tape, the Glasgow artist should have a field day in this gallery's new space.
September 6-October 6
Postmasters Gallery, 459 West 19th Street, 727-3323
The online pioneer and founder of the Thing has his first non-virtual New York show in 10 years, with live Web transmissions.
September 6-October 13
Mitchell-Innes & Nash, 1018 Madison Avenue, fifth floor, 744-7400
Griffin, whose teddy-bear paintings were in the Whitney Biennial 2000 and in "Freestyle," shows new work.
An artist whose paintings plug into the composite megastructures of virtual space and shopping malls has his first solo, titled "Convergence."
September 8-October 13
Brent Sikkema Gallery, 530 West 22nd Street, 929-2262
A light projection and wall installation, titled "American Primitive," is her latest dark allegory of gender and race. Works on paper are also in the show.
September 8-October 27
Exit Art, 548 Broadway, 966-7745
The latest incarnation of Exit Art's annual show of fresh talent features 25 artists.
September 11-October 9
Leo Koenig Gallery, 359 Broadway, 334-9255
This gallery kicks off the season with a slippery environment by the renegade group that calls itself Gelatin.
Is it really possible that it's this Londoner's first New York solo? Her installation here promises a life-size bronze tree with real apples.
A smart Swedish artist whose subtle work has to do with landscape as a cruising site, art history as coercion, and gay identity, as shown here.
Draeger, who has a taste for catastrophe and chaos, shows a four-channel video and sculpture installation titled "Inferno."
This show offers 37 new paintingsboth abstract and representationalby the East German-born art star who back in the early '60s rejected socialist realism, dreamed up "capitalist realism," and (influenced by American pop art) decided to "paint a photo." The rest is history.
September 15-October 20
Metro Pictures, 519 West 24th Street, 206-7100
"Wishful Drinking," with a whiskey-still sculpture, an eraser wall-drawing, and a series of works on vellum.