Mary McDonnell
September 25–November 7

There's so much half-assed abstract painting these days that thoughtful efforts, like those by Mary McDonnell, give fresh pleasure. McDonnell delicately layers swaths of paint on grainy wooden planks with a minimal, moody use of color, creating introspective works of veiled emotion. Equally demure are her careful lines and shapes on paper (also here), suggesting jumbled Japanese calligraphy or fractured Chinese landscapes. McDonnell, like Helen Frankenthaler, makes abstraction gorgeous. James Graham & Sons, 32 East 67th Street, jamesgrahamandsons.com

'Approaching Abstraction'
October 6–September 6, 2010

Sensory-deprived: Black Out, 2008
Courtesy the artist and Julie Saul Gallery
Sensory-deprived: Black Out, 2008

Details

Among 40 Art Brut works of minimal representation, you'll find the marvelous objects of wrapped yarn from Judith Scott, a woman with Down syndrome whose discovery of art was remarkable; Leroy Person's carved wooded figures, mysterious with their colorful primitivism; and the extraordinary visions of cosmic chaos from Eugene Von Bruenchenhein, a recluse who often painted with his fingers. American Folk Art Museum, 45 West 53rd Street, folkartmuseum.org

Hugo Crosthwaite
October 16–November 15

Drawn with Caravaggio-like drama and edging toward surrealism, the wondrous graphite-and-charcoal scenes of urban existence by the Mexican native Hugo Crosthwaite—a superb draftsman—are like illustrations for a latter-day Dante. Lumpy figures, surrounded by noirish glimpses of Tijuana and Atlanta, writhe inside cramped, shadowy spaces or float in blankness like souls damned to desperate corners of Hell. Pierogi, 177 North 9th Street, Brooklyn, pierogi2000.com

'Interference'
October 22–November 24

Like a bemused radiologist, Susanne Ramsenthaler has used imaging technology to study and expose the inner beauty of objects. Isolated on white backgrounds, her photogrammed jellyfish or photographed bars of used soap become, simply, vivid expressions of color and texture. Now she's experimenting with the disruption of visual patterns by poking or prodding them with virtual tools. It's like a vivisection of Op Art. 511 Gallery, 252 Seventh Avenue, 511gallery.com

Urs Fischer
October 28–January 24, 2010

If the impulsive, unpredictable artist of wild ideas, impossible demands, and European origins is a Hollywood cliché, then Zurich-born Urs Fischer comes from central casting. He has excavated a gallery floor, built a Swiss chalet with sourdough bread, and for this exhibit—the first time the museum has devoted its entire space to one artist—he'll include a labyrinth of mirrored cubes, a wall-probing tongue, and, no doubt, a few last-minute head-turners. New Museum of Contemporary Art, 235 Bowery,newmuseum.org

'Who Shot Rock & Roll: A Photographic History
October 30–January 31, 2010

The enduring myth of the rock musician as bohemian iconoclast probably owes as much to the camera as it does to the guitar. Though the exhibit includes ordinary moments (like James Brown getting his hair curled), the pervasive visions are those of evangelic fever, brooding saints, and the carefree life. David Bowie reaches toward Tokyo fans as if to heal them; Patti Smith in the Bowery resembles one of Munch's soulful waifs; the Sex Pistols mug it up in London. Brooklyn Museum of Art, 200 Eastern Parkway, Brooklyn, brooklynmuseum.org

Wallace Berman
November 6–January 9, 2010

Father in the 1950s and '60s of low-budget assemblage, beatnik Wallace Berman was a beguiling visual essayist. In his Verifax collages, paintings, hand-printed publication Semina, and his film Aleph, he both lampooned and glorified the daily information overload, mixing images of religion, pornography, nature, and rock 'n' roll, often presented inside the frame of a transistor radio—which, for the ascetic Berman, was a kind of godhead. Nicole Klagsbrun Gallery, 526 West 26th Street, nicoleklagsbrun.com

'Alias Man Ray: The Art of Reinvention'
November 15–March 14, 2010

It was a great disappointment to the Brooklyn-raised Man Ray that, despite a varied oeuvre, his fame rested primarily on his photographs. They are, of course, iconic: the portraits of glitterati, the exquisite nudes, and his pioneering experiments in solarization and photograms. But the exhibit demonstrates that Man Ray, a Parisian by 1921, was a dedicated gadabout, who also produced paintings, prints, sculptures, and delightful Dada-esque films. Jewish Museum, 1109 Fifth Avenue, thejewishmuseum.org

Anthony McCall
December 12–January 30, 2010

The dust-filled space between the projector and the screen never gets mentioned in film criticism, but for Anthony McCall, it's essential. In the 1970s, McCall's mystical sculptures of light—like Line Describing a Cone, in which a slowly drawn circle creates a near-holographic volume—became legendary, but the artist abandoned such work for more than 30 years. Now he has returned, with more complex geometry and haze machines. In Leaving . . . , one of several projections here, mist eerily swirls on elegant contours of white light. Walking through it, you can't help but imagine that you're meeting with God. Sean Kelly Gallery, 528 West 29th Street, skny.com

Gabriel Orozco
December 13–March 1, 2010

No one epitomizes the whimsical intellectual more than Gabriel Orozco, whose interests in joyfully upsetting established order or following his curiosity produce everything from large sculptures to photographed spontaneity. It's all here: the Citroen sedan he compressed; the plasticine ball he rolled through city streets; the game of billiards he modified by a pendulum; his wordplay with obituaries; and his disobedient rearrangements of supermarket fare. Museum of Modern Art, 11 West 53rd Street, moma.org

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