Spanish Bombs

The organic lasciviousness of art nouveau permeates Antoni Gaudí's 1889 dressing table: The legs twist like tree roots, the cockeyed mirror frame dissolves into coagulated undulations of wood. Photographs, models, and drawings of the deeply Catholic architect's massive church La Sagrada Familia (still under construction 81 years after his death) conjure up visions of H.P. Lovecraft's elder gods—all fleshy protuberances, jagged spirals, and exuberant maws. Geographically closer to France than Madrid, Barcelona's tradi tions of visceral Catholicism, economic egalitarianism, and rebelliousness (the city was a center of resistance to Franco's fascism) provided a rich loam for the protean modernism of Picasso and Dali, along with lesser-known painters such as Hermen Anglada Camarasa, whose images of women in gowns and large hats dissipate into masses of leached color and sharp tonal contrasts. This sprawling, exciting show includes a selection of powerful anti-fascist posters, but it's the 1938 suite of stark red-and-black etchings by Joan Miró that packs the most graphic wallop—the surreal figures are a howl of despair and defiance against the lowering darkness of Franco's advance.


Sara Crisp
Nature is the greatest engineer, and some of her most intricate work, such as beetles' wings and seedpods, is at the core of Crisp's mixed-media paintings. A hexagonal grid scored into a support panel surrounds the wasp hive at the center of one piece; in the three-foot-square Fisherman's Valentine(2006), thick layers of encaustic obscure the radiating arms of a dozen starfish. In a horizontal painting, Crisp insets hundreds of acorn caps under circular overlays of the clear mineral mica, conveying something akin to the mysterious geometries of an ancient constellation chart. Denise Bibro, 529 W 20th, 212-647-7030. Through May 5.

Miró, Miró on the wall: 
Black and Red Series, 1938
Metropolitan Museum of Art
Miró, Miró on the wall: Black and Red Series, 1938

Details

The Metropolitan Museum
1000 Fifth Avenue
Through June 3

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This compact show of three Chinese artists traverses broad territory. Hu Bing riffs on a classical still-life motif, but her colored bottles combine smooth and shattered surfaces, lending them contemporary angst. Similarly, Lin Yan's rice-paper reliefs molded from riveted steel set off a compelling dissonance between material and imagery. More conceptual is Zhang Hongtu's faux Christie's catalog, featuring photographs of his own sculptures: The blue-and-white glaze on a "Ming Dynasty" Coke bottle depicts a "continuous scene of boys at play," while a bronze Big Mac box dates from the "Han Dynasty, 206 B.C.–A.D. 220." Cheryl McGinnis, 1287 Madison, 212-722-1144. Through May 5.


Spencer Finch
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'After'
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Thomas Struth
The onerous formal attire on display in Velazquez's ravishing portraits of Spanish royalty—brocaded gowns, voluminous capes, long hair sculpted into flower-studded fans—contrasts sharply with the casual duds of crowds flowing past the Prado's masterpieces in these large-scale color prints. But this German photographer's deep focus and rich colors fuse the hoi polloi to the exalted, creating a conceptual web that spans four centuries and connects an old master, his royal patrons, enthralled (or bored) viewers, and this contemporary artist directly to you. Marian Goodman, 24 W 57th, 212-977-7160. Through April 28.

 
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