By Alexis Soloski
By R. C. Baker
By Alexis Soloski
By Tom Sellar
By Araceli Cruz
By Brienne Walsh
By Alexis Soloski
By Alexis Soloski
Edited by Alexis Soloski
'Matisse: In Search of True Painting'
Opens December 7
"It has bothered me all my life," said Henri Matisse, "that I do not paint like everyone else." This Metropolitan Museum exhibition focuses on the themes and compositions he returned to throughout his career. Should Matisse's dazzling use of color and line not put you into the holiday spirit, you can top off your visit with a walk by the Met's Christmas tree and Neapolitan baroque crèche. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1000 Fifth Avenue, metmuseum.org
'Inventing Abstraction: 1910–1925'
Opens December 23
Marcel Duchamp once proposed, "An abstract painting need in 50 years by no means look 'abstract' any longer." A hundred years on, the Museum of Modern Art presents an exhibition detailing nonrepresentational art's early years, including works by Duchamp, Francis Picabia, Vasily Kandinsky, Piet Mondrian, and Kazimir Malevich alongside contemporary examples of allied arts. Museum of Modern Art, 11 West 53rd Street, moma.org
Opens January 17
Who among us has not doodled idly with a Bic pen, made a chain of paperclips, or gone a little crazy with a stack of Post-it tabs? But few of us see our idle scribbles displayed at the Drawing Center, which will be exhibiting Ignacio Uriarte's stunningly precise works, all constructed from generic office supplies. Also opening at the Drawing Center in January are works by Alexandre Singh, who resituates interviews with scientists and artists as photocopied collages, and Ishmael Randall Weeks, who represents his native Peru via hand-distressed slides. The Drawing Center, 35 Wooster Street, drawingcenter.org
'Roman Vishniac Rediscovered and We Went Back: Photographs From Europe 1933–1956 by Chim'
Opens January 18
The International Center for Photography shakes off the syrupy aftertaste of holiday kitsch with exhibitions devoted to two extraordinary mid-century Jewish photographers. Roman Vishniac recorded Jewish life between the two world wars, while Dawid Szymin, known as Chim, helped to pioneer photojournalism and co-founded the Magnum Photos cooperative before being killed while on assignment during the Suez War. The show includes 120 of Szymin's prints. The International Center for Photography, 1133 Sixth Avenue, icp.org
'Precision and Splendor: Clocks and Watches at the Frick Collection'
Opens January 23
With the triumph of the smartphone, who wears a watch anymore? And when was the last time you had occasion to buy a clock? Perhaps the extraordinary timepieces in the Frick Collection's latest exhibition will tempt you. Thirty-eight pieces represent the art of horology from 1500 to 1830. (And if you'd like to psych yourself up a month or so in advance, you can stop in to MOMA for Christian Marclay's extraordinary 24-hour film montage, The Clock.) The Frick Collection, 1 East 70th Street, frick.org
Edited by James Hannaham
'Empress of Fashion' by Amanda Mackenzie Stuart
A cottage industry has emerged around Diana Vreeland, the late editor of Harper's Bazaar and Vogue and all-around fashion guru. The frenzy already includes the memoir-gone-mad D.V., as well as the 2011 documentary The Eye Has to Travel, but this is her first full-length biography. This perhaps has as much to do with how much more seriously we take fashion nowadays as with how quaintly delicious we now find Vreeland's gushy, borderline Dadaist sensibility: "I loathe red with any orange in it—although, curiously enough, I also loathe orange without red in it." There's also the allure of Vreeland's mid-20th-century jet-set world, when fashion and mass media had only begun their ever-burgeoning romance, and the shamelessness with which she adored it. Harper, 432 pp., $35
'The Testament of Mary' by Colm Tóibín
Award-winning author Tóibín (Brooklyn, The Master) brings us a provocative novella in which he inhabits the voice of an aging Virgin Mary. Throughout, Mary remains very much perturbed and mystified that the events of her personal life have begun to take on a mythic and religious significance that we know will last thousands of years. It might prove difficult for readers to identify with a married woman who gives birth to the Lord's child, Jesus, though remaining a virgin, only to watch him die on the cross, presumably for the sins of people who at that moment would not be in evidence to her, but Tóibín brings us into Mary's late middle age in prose that's full of grace. Scribner, 96 pp., $23
'Later Poems Selected and New 1971–2012' by Adrienne Rich
'Poems 1962–2012' by Louise Glück
Lesbian feminist Rich, who passed away last March, was known for her fearlessly political subject matter, beginning with 1972's National Book Award winner Diving Into the Wreck. Critics frequently pigeonhole Glück as a bard whose plainspoken style strips down language and disposes of artifice, while at the same time avoiding anything too obviously confessional. This anthology is poised to demonstrate the breadth of her exploration—perhaps the haunting photo of Saturn on the cover means to symbolize that journey. W.W. Norton, 544 pp., $39.95; FSG, 656 pp., $40
'Spectacle' by Susan Steinberg
Don't trust my judgment about this book—Steinberg is a close friend of mine. Instead, believe Publishers Weekly's starred review (obviously, not written by me) of her upcoming linked-story extravaganza, Spectacle: "Steinberg is a maestro of stylistic innovation, conducting orbits of narrative and motif, coaxing meaning and music from each line." After reading this devastating cluster of uncompromising, funny, and eye-opening stories about women trapped in a male-centered world, I told Susan: "Your sentences are like whips. With all the possible connotations thereof." Meaning pain, pleasure, Sadism, discipline, surprise, injustice, lion taming—you name it. But even I'd be afraid to say to her what Publishers Weekly did, for fear of sounding gushy: "With its literary inventions and sharp storytelling, this is a masterpiece of contemporary short fiction." Graywolf, 152 pp., $14