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Art and Museums in NYC This Week
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Make your Motion!


Our guide to new art shows — and some that will be closing soon.

‘DRAWN TO GREATNESS: MASTER DRAWINGS FROM THE THAW COLLECTION’ at the Morgan Library & Museum (through Jan. 7). This major group drawing show constitutes a grand summing-up of a career, of an art form and of an institution’s holdings. During the past 60 years, the New York art dealer Eugene V. Thaw and his wife, Clare Eddy Thaw, amassed a phenomenal drawing collection notable for its chronological breadth. This year they gave more than 400 items outright to the Morgan, expanding and deepening its range. Works on view include a super-rare Andrea Mantegna, an unearthly Samuel Palmer and a soulful Vincent Van Gogh. (Holland Cotter)
212-685-0008, themorgan.org

‘JIMMIE DURHAM: AT THE CENTER OF THE WORLD’ at the Whitney Museum of American Art (through Jan. 28). “I feel fairly sure that I could address the entire world if only I had a place to stand,” said the wry, peripatetic American artist Jimmie Durham in the 1980s. Now he has that place: the fifth floor of the Whitney Museum of American Art, where his magnetic traveling retrospective has arrived with a comet trail of controversy. The controversy surrounds doubts about the truth of the artist’s identity as Native American, to which much of the work refers. But there’s no question about the imaginative impact of the show itself as a panorama of a singular, cantankerous, container-resistant career. (Cotter)
212-570-3600, whitney.org

‘LAUREN GREENFIELD: GENERATION WEALTH’ at the International Center of Photography (through Jan. 7). “They that will be rich fall into a temptation and a snare,” warns the Book of Timothy. For 25 years, this Boston-born photographer has been shooting brand-obsessed, money-addled Americans — rich and poor alike — whose moral rot is expressed through hot-pink Birkin bags, Versace-upholstered furniture and McMansions the size of a small principality. The result is a tasteless show for a tasteless time. Some of Ms. Greenfield’s photographs have a moral passion that exceeds distaste. But most of these shots are dismissive and shallow, and imply that vulgarity is a greater crime than economic unfairness. (Jason Farago)
212-857-0000; icp.org

‘MICHELANGELO: DIVINE DRAFTSMAN AND DESIGNER’ at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (through Feb. 12). A monument to a monument. With 133 drawings by the beyond-famous artist on loan from some 50 front-rank collections, this show is a curatorial coup and an art historical tour de force, a panoptic view of a titanic career as recorded in the most fragile of media: paper, chalk and ink. And it demands that you be fully present. Drawing is more than a graphic experience; it’s a textural one, about the pressure of crayon and pen on a page; the subliminal fade and focus of lines; the weave and shadow-creating swells of surfaces. These are effects that can’t be captured by a smartphone. (Cotter)
212-535-7710, metmuseum.org

‘MURILLO: THE SELF-PORTRAITS’ at the Frick Collection (through Feb. 4). Two flawlessly executed selfies by one of the leading painters of the Spanish Golden Age are united for the first time in centuries in this revealing, somewhat melancholy exhibition on mastery and aging. Around 1650, the 30-something Murillo painted himself as an ambitious young painter with pursed lips and arched eyebrows, staring out incongruously from a block of ancient marble. He was already imagining himself as a man for the ages, but success seems to have worn down Murillo in the later self-portrait, from about 1670. His hair has grown thinner, he’s developed a double chin, and he extends his hand as if desperate to connect to us. (Farago)
212-288-0700, frick.org

‘LAURA OWENS’ at the Whitney Museum of American Art (through Feb. 4). A jubilant, chameleonic midcareer survey of one of painting’s most innovative explorers charts an astoundingly varied path fueled in part by the spatial awareness of installation art. Techniques range from embroidery and felt appliqué to stain painting and digital printing. Sources include Chinese art, Vuillard, want ads, the Bayeux tapestries, folk art and kitsch. A great color sense and a love of nature — and depictions of it — add force. You’ll laugh, you’ll think, you’ll see paintings of beehives with matching bedroom sets. (Roberta Smith)
212-570-3600, whitney.org

‘ALBERTO SAVINIO’ at the Center for Italian Modern Art (through June 23, 2018). The paintings of this Italian polymath have long been overshadowed by the brilliant work of his older brother, Giorgio de Chirico. This show of 22 canvases from the late 1920s and early ’30s may not change that, but the mix of landscapes with bright patterns and several eerie portraits based on family photographs are surprisingly of the moment. (Smith)
646-370-3596, italianmodernart.org

‘SELF-INTERNED, 1942: NOGUCHI IN POSTON WAR RELOCATION CENTER’ at the Noguchi Museum (through Jan. 7, 2018). The order to detain more than 100,000 Japanese-Americans during World War II — a crime that every administration since Gerald Ford’s has lamented, but that our current president has declined to condemn — was directed at citizens on the West Coast. New Yorkers were exempt, but the sculptor Isamu Noguchi, then 37, went anyway. This illuminating and dispiritingly relevant exhibition features documents and small works made from driftwood that date from the seven months Noguchi spent in a camp near the Arizona-California border, where he tried, and failed, to improve the living conditions for his fellow Japanese-Americans. Before his voluntary internment, Noguchi’s sculpture often had a social-realist streak; after he returned, his art turned more organic, and freer, but also at times absurd. (Farago)
718-204-7088, noguchi.org

‘STREAMS AND MOUNTAINS WITHOUT END: LANDSCAPE TRADITIONS OF CHINA’ at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (through Jan. 6, 2019). If you’ve seen only ash-aired Beijing, or that architectural Oz Shanghai, you haven’t seen China. Most of the country is wide-open space, green and blue: hills, plains, water. And it was for an escape to that openness that some Chinese urbanites yearned in centuries past. Their dream: to sit in on a terrace halfway up a mountain, with tea steeping, an ink-brush at hand, a friend at the door, and a waterfall splashing nearby. Not just for vacation. Forever. One way they could live the dream was through images of the kind seen in this show. Technically, it’s a collection reinstallation spiced with a few loans. But the Met’s China holdings are so broad and deep that some of the pictures here are resurfacing for the first time in almost a decade; one is finally making its debut a century after it was acquired. And there’s more than just paintings on view: ceramics, textiles and scholar’s rocks fill out the panorama. (Cotter)
212-535-7710, metmuseum.org

‘THE VIETNAM WAR: 1945-1975’ at the New-York Historical Society (through April 22). In contrast to the PBS series “The Vietnam War,” this jammed exhibition delivers historical data , a lot of it, quick-and-dirty, through labels, film clips, audio bytes and objects, some of which fall under a broad definition of art. Along with paintings by contemporary Vietnamese artists, there’s graffiti-style drawing on combat helmets and Zippo lighters, and period design in album covers and protest posters. Words and images work together in murals labeled “Home Front” and “War Front” that put you in the middle of the war’s primary issues and events. (Cotter)
212-873-3400, nyhistory.org

AI WEIWEI: ‘GOOD FENCES MAKE GOOD NEIGHBORS’ at Washington Square Park, Doris C. Freedman Plaza and throughout New York City (through Feb. 11, 2018). A public disruption by China’s most important contemporary artist comprises large steel cages uptown and downtown, chain-link fences behind bus stops from Harlem to the Bronx, protective netting around Corona Park’s Unisphere, and hundreds of portraits of refugees on lampposts. Mr. Ai is also a refugee — he fled to Berlin in 2015 — and by now there is no untangling his art and activism. (Farago)
Installation sites are at publicartfund.org

‘WIENER WERKSTÄTTE, 1903-1932: THE LUXURY OF BEAUTY’ at the Neue Galerie (through Jan. 29). Fruit bowls, umbrella stands, swanky wallpapers, lavish curtains: The only thing the Wiener Werkstätte couldn’t make is a profit. This substantial exhibition on the most important design firm in early-20th-century Vienna brings together more than 400 works of Modernist applied arts, designed in a new kind of studio that united artists and artisans in a single enterprise. Their rational, rectilinear creations, made of silver or pricey oak, won a following among imperial Vienna’s bourgeoisie, but perpetual cost overruns and the coming of war pushed the Wiener Werkstätte into decline. The 1920s were the last gasp for the firm, under the blingier designer Dagobert Peche, whose mirrors and cruets were as florid as his predecessors’ were straitlaced. (Farago)
212-628-6200, neuegalerie.org

Last Chance

‘ARDENT NATURE: ARSHILE GORKY LANDSCAPES, 1943-77’ at Hauser & Wirth (through Dec. 23). Some artists you enormously admire. Others you admire and enormously love. For many people, Arshile Gorky is a loved one. And much of what makes him cherishable is distilled in this exhibition of more than 30 late paintings and drawings, on loan from museums and private collections, installed on three gallery floors. The show spans some of the happiest and saddest days of Gorky’s short life and feels as manic and tender as a Schubert song cycle. (Cotter)
hauserwirth.info, 212-794-4970

‘TALKING PICTURES: CAMERA-PHONE CONVERSATIONS BETWEEN ARTISTS’ at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (through Dec. 17). One of the wisest, savviest museum exhibitions of the summer may not have much actual art in it, but it circles the subject like a satellite around a planet. Using prints, slide shows, books and iPads, it presents image-only camera-phone exchanges between 12 pairs of artists and is full of flashes of wit, poetry, even genius. Observers will find occasional momentous events, both personal and presidential. (Smith)
212-535-7710, metmuseum.org


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