Fall Arts: Art Picks


‘De Kooning: A Retrospective’
September 18, 2011–January 9, 2012

The wise elder of the Abstract Expressionists, Willem de Kooning (1904–1997) used classical European training to warp figure and ground as profoundly as Einstein did space and time. The Dutchman’s seminal 1948 black-and-white paintings and 1950s “Woman” series set standards that MFAs still reckon with, but here you’ll also encounter Atlantic light in the work he did after moving to Long Island. Lastly, marvel at the muscle memory and sheer physical strength that propelled his poignantly spare 1980s canvases beyond an Alzheimer’s-veiled brain.

The Museum of Modern Art
11 West 53 Street,

‘Heroic Africans: Legendary Leaders, Iconic Sculptures’
September 21, 2011–January 29, 2012

On loan from collections around the world and spanning eight centuries, this gathering of masterpieces ranges from strikingly naturalistic to evocatively abstract renderings of pre-colonial African leaders. Wrought from clay, wood, and other materials, the sculptures capture the likenesses of rulers otherwise known only from ancient oral traditions. An exquisite ivory-and-copper pendant depicts the mother of a 16th-century king of Benin; her penetrating gaze set in a countenance of ghostly white elephant ivory conveys why she was a trusted advisor to her powerful son.

Metropolitan Museum of Art
1000 Fifth Avenue,

Trudy Benson
October 13–November 12

With titles such as Radiation Spill, Red Dwarf, and New Ninth Planet, it’s no surprise that Benson’s abstractions are large (six to seven feet on a side) and imbued with a striking luminescence that’s equal parts laboratory fluorescents and petrochemical haze. Boldly brushed and colorful, they might at first read as decorative, but this isn’t lobby art—unless it’s destined for one of those orbiting multinationals in William Gibson’s Neuromancer.

Mike Weiss
520 West 24th Street,

Jim Lambie
October 27–December 17

Whether covering gallery floors with Technicolor tape or a using a blocky bird sculpture to weigh down spray-paint cans—causing each to send out a plume of undiluted color—Lambie can be counted on to find the rainbow, even if it’s underfoot. But don’t let the candy coatings fool you: Beyond pretty, his work possesses cloaked edges. You might discover that rainbows can cast deep shadows.

Anton Kern
532 West 20th Street,

Andrea Bowers
October 29–December 17

Through photorealist drawings of people committing acts of civil disobedience, video documentation of a young man who bid on gas leases he had no intention of paying for to keep them away from oil companies, or a hand-drawn copy of a poignant statement written by a woman facing deportation, Bowers brings the tilt-a-whirl of the news cycle to a sudden halt.

Andrew Kreps
525 West 22nd Street,

Maurizio Cattelan
November 4, 2011–January 22, 2012

Cattelan (born 1960, in Padua, Italy) is probably most famous for his realistic sculpture of Pope John Paul II squashed under a meteorite or perhaps his taxidermied horse, its head plunged into a high wall, legs and tail limply dangling. The Guggenheim’s airy rotunda, with its off-kilter bays and slightly disorienting spiral, might finally meet its match when it’s filled with more than 130 works delineating this sardonic jokester’s entire career.

Guggenheim Museum
1071 Fifth Avenue,

John Chiara
November 17, 2011–January 7, 2012

Chiara’s large photographs are achieved through a laborious process involving a huge, trailer-mounted camera and gallons of old-school photo chemicals, which leave abstract splatters across his bewitchingly bleak California landscapes. Recently, he has photographed hulking public sculptures on negative transparencies, shifting the denatured colors of his earlier work into a gaudy realm of truly ungainly beauty. Literally and metaphorically, Chiara’s photos are one of a kind.

Von Lintel
520 West 23rd Street,

Jim Richard
November 17–December 23

Garish, but slyly gorgeous, Richard’s collages begin with vaguely modernist interiors—dig that sunken living room carpeted in ultramarine shag!—that form grounds for abstract runnels of paint. Objets d’art fill these upscale dwellings, reversing the lowbrow theme embodied by the ads cluttering Richard Hamilton’s seminal 1950s pop imagery while channeling the same sense of anxiety about what, exactly, constitutes art, once all the rules are in flux.

Jeff Bailey
625 West 27th Street,