Your Concise New York Art Guide for December 2021

Beloved, beleaguered New Yorkers: from an immersive installation recreating Colette Lumiere’s baroque living quarters, to a trio of shows that cull from Columbia University’s rarely seen art collection, to a presentation of drawings by Black artists from the American South, here are a few exhibitions worth bundling up for (the last can also be explored virtually). And be sure to catch the Guggenheim’s survey of the light- and life-filled work of the inimitable Etel Adnan, who passed away last month.

Arthur Simms: And I Say, Brother Had A Very Good Day, One Halo

Installation view, Arthur Simms: And I Say, Brother Had A Very Good Day, One Halo, Martos Gallery, New York, 2021 (courtesy of the artist and Martos Gallery; photo by Charles Benton)

When: through December 23
Where: Martos Gallery (41 Elizabeth Street, Chinatown, Manhattan)

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Jamaica-born, New York-based artist Arthur Simms presents three decades’ worth of drawing and sculpture engaging with his longstanding exploration of his diasporic identity as well as his work at the intersection of folk art, craft, and art history. Found object assemblages feature twine or wire lattices that wrap and bind disparate items including roller skates, rocking horses, feathers, and, in the case of one piece inspired by Willem de Kooning and Marcel Duchamp, two bicycles with a vintage toilet; relatively two-dimensional works cobble together materials including tinfoil, photographs, hair, and acetate.

Gerald Jackson

Installation view, Gerald Jackson, Gordon Robichaux, New York, 2021 (courtesy of the artist and Gordon Robichaux; photo by Ryan Page)

When: through January 9
Where: Gordon Robichaux (41 Union Square West, #925 and #907, Union Square, Manhattan)

Arriving on the heels of exhibitions at White Columns and Wilmer Jennings Gallery-Kenkeleba, Gordon Robichaux’s Gerald Jackson rounds off a series of three New York City shows dedicated to the oeuvre of the octogenarian artist, poet, and performer. The New Jersey-based artist, who emerged in New York’s downtown scene in the mid-1960s, offers up paintings that explore the spiritual dimensions of color, especially blue and green; found object sculptures featuring globes perched atop teapots and figurines haloed with gleaming CDs; and appropriated images that have been reproduced and subsequently altered with chalk, pastel, watercolor, and paint.

Etel Adnan: Light’s New Measure

Etel Adnan, Untitled, 2010. Oil on canvas, 7 7/8 × 9 7/8 in. (20 × 25 cm). Collection of Karen E. Wagner and David L. Caplan, New York. © Etel Adnan

When: through January 10
Where: Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (1071 Fifth Avenue, Upper East Side, Manhattan)

Beirut-born novelist, poet, and visual artist Etel Adnan died this past November at the age of 96. Her first New York City museum survey, which opened prior to her passing, presents leporellos (accordion-folded books), tapestries, and paintings spanning from the 1960s, mere years after she first picked up a paintbrush in California, to the present day. Oscillating between abstraction and figuration, Adnan’s vibrant, lucid celebrations of nature’s sublimity — mountains made from blocks of bold color, a glowing circle suspended above a horizon line — are like a shot of pure joy.

Anna K.E.: Blowing From the East Fallen Leaves Gather in the West

Installation view, Anna K.E.: Blowing From the East Fallen Leaves Gather in the West, Simone Subal Gallery, New York, 2021 (courtesy of the artist and Simone Subal Gallery; photo by Dario Lasagni)

When: through January 15
Where: Simone Subal Gallery (131 Bowery, 2nd floor, Chinatown, Manhattan)

Born in Tbilisi, Georgia, and based in New York City, former ballerina Anna K.E. works across drawing, video, performance, sculpture, and installation to explore the utopian aspirations embedded in Modernist architecture and the relationships between bodies and their built (architectural, social, and virtual) environments. Blowing From the East Fallen Leaves Gather in the West brings together a zinc metal architectural model constructed with magnets, temporary walls gridded methodically with construction chalk, and large mixed media drawings that evoke building schematics.

Alice Trumbull Mason: Shutter Paintings

Installation view, Alice Trumbull Mason: Shutter Paintings, Washburn Gallery, New York, 2021 (courtesy of Washburn Gallery; photo by Christopher Burke Studio)

When: through January 15
Where: Washburn Gallery (177 10th Avenue, Chelsea, Manhattan)

Alice Trumbull Mason, a painter, printmaker, and vocal proponent of non-objective art who cofounded the American Abstract Artists group in 1936, is among the figures who are getting their due with the reevaluation of the prevailing — typically white, male — narrative of American abstraction. Titled after a phrase from Will Heinrich’s contribution to a Mason monograph published last year, Shutter Paintings features 16 mature paintings made between 1960 and 1966 that are characterized by hard geometric ribbons of color running vertically, sometimes askant, down the canvas.

Another Tradition: Drawings By Black Artists from the American South

Thornton Dial, Posing Movie Stars Holding the Freedom Bird, 1991. Watercolor and graphite on wove paper. 30 × 22 in. (76.2 × 55.9 cm). The Morgan Library & Museum, Gift of the Souls Grown Deep Foundation from the William S. Arnett Collection and purchase on the Manley Family Fund, 2018.97r. Photography by Janny Chiu © Thornton Dial / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

When: through January 16
Where: online & The Morgan Library & Museum (225 Madison Avenue, Murray Hill, Manhattan)

In 2018, the Morgan acquired 11 works from the Souls Grown Deep Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to promoting the work of Black artists from the Southern United States. Built around the recent acquisition along with several loans, this predominantly drawing-focused exhibition presents work by eight artists including Thornton Dial and Sister Gertrude Morgan. Among the highlights are a mixed media work by Nellie Mae Rowe that depicts the artist with her “Playhouse,” and a found book that Purvis Young illustrated with basketball and football players, a facsimile of which is viewable here.

Colette Lumiere: Notes on Baroque Living: Colette and Her Living Environment, 1972–1983

Installation view, Colette Lumiere: Notes on Baroque Living, Colette and Her Living Environment 1972 -1983, Company GalleryNew York, 2021 (courtesy of the artist and Company Gallery)

When: through January 22
Where: Company Gallery (145 Elizabeth Street, Lower East Side, Manhattan)

The fabulous, ever-evolving transdisciplinary artist Colette Lumiere, who “died” at the Whitney in 1978 and was reborn as the executor of her estate and a no-wave musician at MoMA PS1 several days later, is the subject of this immersive, media-spanning exhibition at Company. Check out a reconstructed portion of the Tunisian-born, New York-based artist’s “Living Environment” (1972-1983), the downtown Manhattan loft that she turned into a “grotto of fantasy” — with herself, a living sculpture, at its center — using ruched satin, light boxes, mirrors, ropes, and more.

In Support

Francisca Benítez, Riego, 2021. Installation view, In Support, The Kitchen, 2021 (courtesy of The Kitchen; photo by Kyle Knodell)

When: through March 12
Where: The Kitchen (512 West 19th Street, Chelsea, Manhattan)

Presenting new commissions across media by Fia Backström, Francisca Benítez, Papo Colo, and Clynton Lowry, In Support overtakes The Kitchen, from its standard viewing galleries to areas where artwork is not typically exhibited, such as storage spaces and administrative offices. The thought-provoking show is broadly themed around — and mired in the complex realities of — institutional support, including the kinds of labor that art institutions habitually render invisible; Lowry, for example, takes art handling and art maintenance labor as his subject in a series of 360-degree videos and an accompanying installation.

Time and Face: Daguerreotype to Digital Prints, Object Relations: Indigenous Belongings, and What Is the Use of Buddhist Art?

Photographer unknown, The Fisk Jubilee Singers, 1882–85. Woodburytype print. Art Properties, Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library, Chandler Chemical Museum Collection (courtesy of the Wallach Art Gallery)

When: December 3–March 13
Where: Wallach Art Gallery at Columbia University Lenfest Center for the Arts (615 West 129th Street, West Harlem, Manhattan)

Three simultaneous exhibitions at the Wallach Art Gallery present upwards of 150 rarely seen artworks and objects of cultural heritage amassed over the past two centuries from Columbia’s Collection of Art Properties, which comprises over 13,000 items from antiquity to the present day. The shows cover vastly different terrain. What is the Use of Buddhist Art? considers the social lives and ritual uses of a variety of Buddhist objects; Time and Face thematically groups photographs ranging from daguerreotypes to contemporary archival pigment prints; and Object Relations pairs Indigenous cultural objects related to children and the future with the work of contemporary Indigenous artists Wendy Red Star, Skawennati, Dakota Mace, and Sonya Kelliher-Combs.

Gala Porras-Kim: Precipitation for an Arid Landscape

Gala Porras-Kim, Panel from Precipitation for an Arid Landscape, 2021, Seven panels, each 72 x 72 inches, Color pencil and flashe on paper (courtesy of the artist and Amant Foundation)

When: through March 17
Where: Amant Foundation (315 Maujer Street, East Williamsburg, Brooklyn)

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A concept-driven artist born in Bogotá and based in Los Angeles, Gala Porras-Kim has an enduring interest in the institutional treatment and classification of cultural objects, antiquities, and heritage sites. Spanning drawing, sculpture, video, sound art, and ephemera such as letters, news clippings, and books, which are housed in a dedicated research pod, Precipitation for an Arid Landscape brings an incisive eye to the contemporary presentation of a plundered Mexican pyramid, the historical narratives behind a Neolithic site in Turkey, and the Harvard Peabody Museum’s retention of objects dredged from a sacred cenote.


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