Fall Guide: Ingrid Calame Finds Beauty in the Grime

James Cohan Gallery hosts the artist's Swing Shift

'Alternative Histories'
September 24–November 24

Just as revolutions need meeting halls, radical art relies on those galleries at the fringe run by mavericks on a shoestring. Given little consideration in most chronicles of New York's avant-garde (glory goes to the artists), these alternate spaces and their founders are finally getting the attention they deserve. This exhibit, covering a 50-year span and more than 130 galleries, examines landmarks like Food and Artists Space, along with plenty of 21st-century newcomers. Exit Art, 475 Tenth Avenue, exitart.org

Tony Oursler
October 7–December 4

In his 1970 theory of robotics, Japanese researcher Masahiro Mori states that when a machine comes too close to resembling a human, we find it repulsive. Renowned installation artist and cultural critic Tony Oursler, who often gives sculpted forms a creepy human presence, is applying Mori's ideas to the Web. Combining video, laser projections, and LED-illuminated drawings, Oursler's latest effort suggests that, as he says, "the Internet itself is an epistemological mirror of human consciousness." Indeed, Googling yourself is just another symptom of existential dread. Lehmann Maupin, 201 Chrystie Street, lehmannmaupin.com

'Seductive Subversion: Women Pop Artists, 1958–1968'
October 15–January 9, 2011

While pop art's stars—all men—were glorifying mass culture, the movement's women were looking at things with a more humanizing eye. The neglected or forgotten pieces here include Rosalyn Drexler's Home Movies, a painting of gangster-film figures contained in disconnected TV-like boxes; an amusing portrait of actor Jean-Paul Belmondo that's a visual mash note from Pauline Boty; and Martha Rosler's biting photomontage of first lady Pat Nixon, who stands underneath a framed picture of the My Lai massacre. Brooklyn Museum, 200 Eastern Parkway, Brooklyn, brooklynmuseum.org

'Art/Sewn: Innovation and Expression'
October 16–December 12

Laura Splan makes doilies shaped after nasty human viruses; Annette Tacconelli attaches beaded structures to metal objects found on the street; and Cheryl Yun's fashion line includes lingerie printed with images of disaster and war. These artists, among several others in this show, take the needle and thread far beyond the comforts of craft. FiveMyles, 558 St. Johns Place, Brooklyn, fivemyles.org

Damien Hirst: 'Medicine Cabinets'
October 28–December 11

Whether you consider Damien Hirst a brilliant conceptualist or a shrewd businessman, here's a chance to see how the world's richest artist got his start. In 1989, for his graduation exhibit at London University's Goldsmiths College, Hirst presented four medicine cabinets filled with carefully arranged pill bottles and boxes, and later made a dozen more, naming them after Sex Pistols songs. Slicker versions, churned out for big bucks ever since, are little more than products, but the originals—together for the first time—bear a genuine spirit of cultural satire. L&M Arts, 45 East 78th Street, lmgallery.com

Eugene Von Bruenchenhein
November 4–October 9, 2011

Painting with his fingers or with brushes made from his wife's hair, working in fever-state single sessions, the self-taught Eugene Von Bruenchenhein produced hundreds of wildly colorful, extraterrestrial visions, often given titles mimicking sci-fi pulp (Fringe of Atlantis, A Future Majestic). Focusing on works of botanical influence, this exhibit also includes the artist's delightful towers made from painted chicken bones. American Folk Art Museum, 45 West 53rd Street, folkartmuseum.org

Hiroshi Sugimoto
November 5–January 8, 2011

Touch the silver sphere of a Van de Graaff generator and your hair will literally stand on end. You may feel the same effect when viewing the astonishing images from Hiroshi Sugimoto's Lightning Field series—produced when the artist applied the generator's voltage to blank sheets of film. What results is otherworldly: ghost-white forms resembling deep-sea creatures, baby nebulae, or glowing centipedes. Also here are the artist's black-and-white photographs of calm seas; austere but tonally rich, they're like the late work of Rothko. The Pace Gallery, 545 West 22nd Street, thepacegallery.com

Charles LeDray: 'workworkworkworkwork'
November 18–February 13, 2011

Welcome to the Smallville world of Charles LeDray, who meticulously miniaturizes the familiar—men's suits, a toy box, a magazine rack—into dioramas that might appear, at first, like sets for some animated children's story. But stare down long enough at the three scenes here of secondhand clothing shops—no higher than your knees—and they begin to feel like distant memories of unsettlingly exact detail. Whitney Museum of American Art, 945 Madison Avenue, whitney.org

'On Line: Drawing Through the Twentieth Century'
November 21–February 7, 2011

Drawing doesn't get much credit for helping to push the boundaries of modernism, but as this wide-ranging collection demonstrates, the old-fashioned line not only remained the backbone of expression in the last century, it often emerged as a statement of pure art: geometric studies (Kandinsky, Nasreen Mohamedi), sculpted sketches (Calder, Eva Hesse), and gestures in film and dance. It's all here, in a big celebration of that basic urge to make a picture. Museum of Modern Art, 11 West 53rd Street, moma.org

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