Spring Art Preview: Kerry James Marshall's Black Whole

Battling art's blind spot

Devorah Sperber: 'Mirror Universe'
March 20–April 26

Although the press release discusses "how consciousness and the act of seeing create the illusion of a stable, predictable, singular universe," what you really need to know is that this exhibition is based on the Star Trek episode "Mirror, Mirror"—the one featuring a "savage parallel universe," replete with evil Dr. Spock and scheming Captain Kirk. Sperber uses threaded glass beads of varying opacities to simulate that "Beam me up, Scotty" moment, and shaped mirrors to transform distorted figures into the familiar icons. For TNG fans (you know who you are), the holodeck has been re-created from 9,600 spools of thread. Caren Golden, 539 W 23rd, 212-727-8304

McDermott & McGough
March 21–April 26

A pointed bucolic: Marshall's Vignette #10, 2007
Courtesy Jack Shainmen Gallery
A pointed bucolic: Marshall's Vignette #10, 2007

Is that Tippi Hedren wedged into a wood-paneled corner, eyes upturned in terror? (Note the staccato rhythm of her red nails.) Judging by the POV placement of the hand in another canvas, Late Night #3: Lizabeth Scott, 1967 (2007), it's you who's holding the lit match for the femme fatale inside that console TV with the shiny knobs. These slick new oil paintings from a duo famous for ransacking the past—and for their Victorian toggery—channel both the studio system's contract sirens and those bygone days when broadcasters first began downsizing the big screen for the late-late show. Cheim & Read, 547 W 25th, 212-242-7727

Lots of Things Like This
April 2–May 10

Curated by McSweeney's mastermind Dave Eggers, this show gathers 50 works by artists who make crude images with funny texts appended. No, it's not a rejection collection of cartoons from The New Yorker, but stuff hanging on the wall. One example from Tucker Nichols: a childish painting of a pistol accompanied by the block letters "HEY LADIES." And another: Kurt Vonnegut's silkscreen of a tombstone that reads "Life is no way to treat an animal." apexart, 291 Church St., 212-431-5270

'Frederick Kiesler:

April 18–July 24

Philip Johnson called Kiesler "the best-known non-building architect of our time," and this collection of vibrant drawings and schemata for work ranging from avant-garde stage designs to an egg-shaped "Endless House" is a chance to see one of the 20th century's most fertile design heads in action. Kiesler (1890–1965) was born in Austria but did much of his work in America, including the biomorphic open-air plan for Peggy Guggenheim's Art of This Century gallery and a "Vision Machine" for Columbia University, which attempted to demonstrate the process of perception. The Drawing Center, 35 Wooster, 212-219-2166

'New York Cool'
April 22–July 19

One of the Grey Art Gallery's typically erudite exhibitions, this show focuses on the various movements swirling through New York in the 1950s and '60s. Here are Frank O'Hara's beautifully scrawled poems, illuminated by Norman Bluhm's splashy gouache strokes; Ilya Bolotowsky's and Robert Goodnough's Mondrian-inflected geometric abstractions; Seymour Lipton's lively, biomorphic crayon drawings; Nicholas Krushenick's chromatically intense "Iron Butterfly" prints; and a large, gestural canvas by Elaine de Kooning. Add a Milton Avery seascape and a big Louise Nevelson wall relief, and this group reminds us that there was more than ab-ex and pop happening in Gotham back in the day. Grey Art Gallery, 100 Washington Square East, 212-998-6780

'Double Album'
April 23–July 6

The press release for this show, featuring Mexican Daniel Guzmán and Canadian Steven Shearer, promises an investigation of "the pitfalls and appeal of prolonged male adolescence." (Appeal?) Both artists were born in the '60s, and their work shares a fascination with the music of their youth. Shearer's octagonal, wood-paneled Activity Cell With Warlock Bass Guitar is filled with plush red cushions and looks groupie-ready; Guzmán's red skull on a paint-spattered can forms a striking totem. The duo's wide-ranging visual dialogue will take over the museum's entire second floor. New Museum, 235 Bowery, 212-219-1222

'Jeff Koons on the Roof'
April 29–October 26

Here is kitsch writ large for the Met's inviting roof garden, courtesy of Mr. Sincerity (despite the porn shoots with his ex-wife, you get the impression that Koons truly loves the aesthetics of childhood). One piece to be wary of: Balloon Dog (Yellow). This huge stainless-steel canine may make you laugh or cry or bark like a dog. Metropolitan Museum, 1000 Fifth Ave., 212-535-7710

Kadar Brock
May 1-31

Brock's kick-ass abstractions combine slathered planes of acrylic flashe with neon-bright spray-paint grids that race over the edges, implying a larger space beyond—but still part of—the canvas. This is high-energy stuff, exuberantly conveyed, and while he cadges everyone from Howard Hodgkin to Mel Bochner, this young painter distills the visual tumult of his own age into something other than a goddamned video game. Buia, 541 W 23rd, 212-366-9915

Hilary Harkness
May 1–June 28

This is one for the boys, or at least those who think like them. Harkness's models on stilettos are rough trade indeed, leggy doms and subs cavorting in harm's way in meticulously detailed oil paintings of crowded submarines, battleships, and other homo-erotic interiors. The latest piece features a mining camp where the lusty hijinks continue in sluices, outhouses, and covered wagons bathed in tawny light. Mary Boone, 745 Fifth Ave., 212-752-2929

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