Holiday Arts Guide: Art Picks


Dotty Attie: The Lone Ranger

November 21–December 21

Best known for arrangements of small paintings that appropriate and rebuke Old Master portraits of women, Dotty Attie has more recently turned to kooky vintage photographs as source material for her feminist wit. In this show, she lampoons notions of the male rescuer, as exemplified by the Lone Ranger. One series of pictures — like everything here, coolly rendered with a sepia-toned palette and accompanied by a statement of deadpan irony — makes the heroic mask ridiculous, while another smirks at the damsel in distress via scenes of pulp-fiction erotica. PPOW, 535 West 22nd Street,

William Engelen: Falten [Folds]

November 22–January 12

Once again, the Drawing Center brings draftsmanship into the avant-garde. In Falten, a composition for eight percussionists, William Engelen presents another of his spatially oriented systems for musical notation. The work’s individual parts — timelines drawn on sheets of paper — are folded into distinct, origami-like constructions. The resulting shapes, creases, and fragmented markings create a new symbolic language, guiding the drummers toward specific ideas about what and when to play. A recording of Falten, performed by the ensemble Talujon on opening night, accompanies the show throughout its run. The Drawing Center, 35 Wooster Street,

Isa Genzken: Retrospective

November 23–March 10

Well-suited for a New York audience, this tour of Isa Genzken’s strikingly diverse work mixes sincerity, satire, and provocation. Her early cement-block sculptures, for example, pay homage to Minimalism, while others, wearing rabbit-ear antennas, make austerity look foolish. Models for a fantasized redevelopment of Ground Zero are, uneasily, both heartfelt and humorous. She’s made absurdist, slapstick films as well as a poignant documentary about her grandparents. Her culture-critical assemblages of kitsch include a series titled “Fuck the Bauhaus.” It’s all here — entertaining, enigmatic, and, no doubt, occasionally irritating. Museum of Modern Art, 11 West 53rd Street,

Hans Hoffman

December 5–January 25

A formative contributor to Abstract Expressionism, Hans Hoffman tends to get overlooked in considerations of the movement — maybe because he earned renown as an influential teacher, or maybe because he was something of a visionary, anticipating rather than following trends. His jazzy paintings from the immediate post-war years, featured here, are a prime example. Their cartoony biomorphs, loose gestures, and “unfinished” patches of washed-out color look ahead decades, to the irreverence of Philip Guston and beyond. Ameringer McEnery Yohe, 525 West 22nd Street,

Ink Art: Past as Present in Contemporary China

December 11–April 6

In this all-media survey, 35 Chinese artists subvert tradition, in many cases offering up sly socio-political commentary. Highlights include Qiu Anxiong’s jittery grayscale animations, which reflect back on those serene ink-and-wash landscapes but take you into worlds shrouded by environmental disaster. Elsewhere, you can watch Cai Guo-Qiang’s explosive Project for Extraterrestrials, a gunpowder fuse over six miles long making a dragon-like line of fire near China’s Great Wall. For a centerpiece, Xu Bing presents his room-sized installation of nonsensical calligraphy, Book from the Sky — a years-long effort that got the artist placed under surveillance. Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1000 Fifth Avenue,

Ingrid Calame: Tracks

December 12–February 1

No one loves the surfaces of things more than Ingrid Calame, who has derived her map-like paintings from hands-on-knees tracings of an abandoned public pool and the floor of a steel plant. This time it’s the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and Calame uses a Renaissance-era technique called “pouncing” to transfer what she meticulously recorded from the track — skid marks, oil stains, cracks in the asphalt — directly onto the gallery walls in vivid neon hues. James Cohan Gallery, 533 West 26th Street,

A Floating Population

December 13–April 13

Though tenement conditions have greatly improved in the 120 years since Jacob Riis photographed the squalor of lower Manhattan, Annie Ling’s recent portraits of Chinatown make it clear that the immigrant life remains pretty rough. With tight framing and a focus on everyday moments, Ling affectingly captures the claustrophobia of lodging-house warrens and cramped apartments while revealing, in the faces of laborers and impoverished shut-ins, a resilient dignity. Museum of Chinese in America, 215 Centre Street,

Indie Essentials: 25 Must-Play Video Games

December 14–March 2

Among the non-mainstream designs in this showcase of playable indie video games, the interactive stories will likely stand out, with their edgy art and an emphasis on emotional engagement. Start up Kentucky Route Zero to journey over a shadowy highway, presented in a spare, angular style reminiscent of alternative comics. Play The Path — an adventure based on Red Riding Hood — and you’ll be an actor in a Tim Burton–esque film. But nothing may match the disquiet you feel after trying Passage, a crudely conceived five-minute game of horizontal movement through love, marriage, aging, and death. Museum of the Moving Image, 36-01 35 Avenue, Queens,

Teenage Dream Sequence: Seduction of the Eye

December 15–January 5

Harking back to the gonzo spiritualism of the late 1960s underground — specifically, Kenneth Anger’s occultist films and Aldo Tambellini’s jam-session frenzy of Black Zero — Katherine Bauer stages the third part of her “Teenage Dream Sequence,” this one a wild take on George Bataille’s novella of symbolic debauchery, Story of the Eye. A 16mm film loops nothing but images of eyes, dancers read from the book while moving to synthesized sounds, and projected light creates live silhouettes of the action with photograms, capturing what Bauer calls “the force of lust.” Microscope Gallery, 4 Charles Place, Brooklyn,