Art

Damien Hirst
March 11-April 23
Gagosian Gallery, 555 W 24th, 212-741-1111.

Fresh off a cycle of canvases depicting the Four Evangelists (layered with butterflies and Bible pages and destined for a deconsecrated church in Rome), the baddest boy of the not-so-Y-anymore-BAs brings his road show back to the intimate warrens of Gagosian's Chelsea warehouse. Hirst's London representative says there'll be no gargantuan ashtrays or hacked-up animals, only paintings.

Jean-Michel Basquiat
March 11-June 5
Brooklyn Museum of Art, 200 Eastern Pkwy, 718-638-5000.

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    Robert Hughes famously titled his obituary of Basquiat "Requiem for a Featherweight." Rene Ricard declaimed from the other extreme: "Jean-Michel was touched by God." Basquiat died impossibly young, leaving only his paintings and a drug-ravaged corpse; the BMA will mount a broad survey of the former. You decide whether he will be as forgotten as scrubbed-off graffiti or truly emerge as the "Radiant Child" of the '80s.

    'Greater New York 2005'
    March 13-September 26
    P.S.1, 22-25 Jackson Ave, Long Island City, Qns, 718-784-2084.

    P.S.1 is staging its second open-call exhibition of emerging New York artists. Which painter, sculptor, or conceptualist, with the blessing of MOMA's outer-borough outpost, will be anointed the next "It" artist? One participant in the 2000 version, Mark Lombardi, who drew complex, color-coded webs illuminating corporate and government malevolence, hanged himself shortly after the opening; some speculate that the specter of onrushing success proved unbearable to this middle-aged artist. Be careful what you wish for.

    McCarren/Fine
    March 19-April 23
    Ronald Feldman Fine Arts, 31 Mercer, 212-226-3232.

    In 1776, American painting was a pimple on Europe's butt, a legacy that extends to the stolid portraits of the founding fathers on our boring currency today. The wife-and-husband team Barbara McCarren and Jud Fine enlarge and combine details of the world's paper money to make oversize ink-jet prints. Four all-seeing greenback pyramids anchor the seven-foot-long Tattoo: Iraq Coalition; unfolding from either side, like colorful, mirror-image wings, are repeated snippets of currency from Iraq and members of the Coalition of the Willing. As usual, it's all about the Benjamins.

    Nasreen Mohamedi
    March 19-May 21
    Drawing Center, 35 Wooster, 212-219-2166.

    Mohamedi's work, derived from the abstract traditions of her native India, is presented concurrently with a show of three abstract artists from the West, including Agnes Martin. The cosmopolitan Mohamedi found inspiration in sources as disparate as the geometries of Islamic architecture and painted crosswalks. Her drawings embody both a contemplative quiet that reflected her interest in Zen Buddhism and a verve rivaling the Constructivists.

    Pat Steir
    March 31-May 7
    Cheim & Read, 547 W 25th, 212-242-7727.

    Eschewing the literal, figurative elegance of her "Waterfall" series, Steir's new "Moon" paintings have a gritty flair: Heavy bronze and silver pigments settle, coagulate, and separate at the base of these works, exposing underlying colors and conveying gravity not as falling drips but something more like river sediment. "It's just nature doing its thing," says Steir. Large-scale (Blue River is 13 x 26 feet), the works run the gamut from pre-dawn black through rich primaries to morning-mist white.

    David Ratcliff
    April 7-May 7
    Team Gallery, 527 W 26th, 212-279-9219.

    Stencils are art's version of tightrope walking—one mistake and everything's fucked. For his debut exhibition, this 34-year-old L.A. artist starts with computer-scanned enlargements (six feet high) of his collages, which he meticulously cuts out and adheres to varnished black canvases. He has one shot to spray on vibrant colors that bring out images such as Tack and Gentry, which juxtaposes tiara-clad starlets and a sullen, tuxedoed young man against bridles, saddles, and riding crops. As Jake Barnes laments in The Sun Also Rises, "I have a rotten habit of picturing the bedroom scenes of my friends."

    Alberto Casado
    April 9-June 25
    Art in General, 79 Walker, 212-219-0473.

    A Cuban native who lives just outside Havana, Casado works in the netherworld between Cuba's street life, politics, and religions. His paintings are often filled with cascades of numbers, homage to the popular, clandestine lotteries indulged in by all classes of Cubans. (Some are piped in from Florida radio stations.) Now in his mid-thirties, Casado has frequently been controversial—a 1998 painting depicts performance artist Angel Delgado taking a dump on Cuba's national newspaper; the actual event cost Delgado six months in jail. But in Casado's world even scatological outrages are bright and shimmering: He paints with serigraphic inks on glass—sometimes old public-bus windshields scavenged or bought on the black market—and then presses colored aluminum foil under the semi-transparent surface. This colorful luminosity dovetails nicely with another of Casado's recurring themes—his Abakua religion, a West African faith brought to Cuba during the slave trade.

    David Goerk, John Mullen
    April 14-May 7, May 12-June 11
    Howard Scott, 529 W 20th, 646-486-7004.

    Always a home for intimate, compelling painting, this gallery offers a one-two punch. First are Goerk's tiny (7 x 4 x 4 inches is typical) oil-on-wood constructions. Squares grow out of rectangles like euclidean tumors, all painted in velvety maroons, blues, and greens highlighted by opposing colors on right-angled edges. Mullen follows through with rich textures on his five-foot canvases, deftly mixing colorful biomorphics with stark geometries. Both artists convey nature overwhelming the arbitrariness of our constructed world.

    Jasper Johns
    May 7-June 25
    Matthew Marks Gallery, 522 W 22nd, 212-243-0200.

    The 800-pound gorilla of living artists is having his first solo exhibition in New York since the '96 MOMA retrospective. Frozen in the encaustic shadow of his early flag and target masterpieces, the septuagenarian painter will perhaps (like Titian) find in late life more sublime depths than his middle-period "Four Seasons" or flagstones ever achieved. With new paintings, drawings, and prints, this is a show overflowing with anticipation.

    Andy Warhol
    May 15-April 2006
    Dia: Beacon, 3 Beekman St, Beacon, NY, 845-440-0100. Escape the city for a verdant early-summer drive. Head upstate to Beacon, where Dia mounts a show of Warhol's large "Skull" paintings and a selection derived from his "Disaster" series of car crashes and suicides. Andy was always best when he was darkest; you'll feel like you never left Gotham.

    Jackie Matisse
    May 21-June 24
    Zone Chelsea, 601 W 26th, 212-255-2177.

    Matisse possesses a regal artistic legacy—bright colors and bold compositions from her grandfather Henri and conceptual whimsy from her stepfather, Marcel Duchamp—and makes paintings in the sky with handcrafted kites trailing vibrant tails. These are shown along with tiny streamers and other objects in bottles (she assisted Duchamp in assembling his "portable museums"), plus a virtual reality Cave where viewers can use wands to make the kites move.

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