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exhibitions

Metropolitan Museum Debuts Roof Garden Commission: Dan Graham with Günther Vogt

Who needs a plain old terrace when you can have a Hedge Two-Way Mirror Walkabout? Nancy Lazarus heads to the roof of the Met to reflect on the matter.

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(Photos: Hyla Skopitz, The Photograph Studio, The Metropolitan Museum of Art)

As the Metropolitan Museum of Art prepares to roll out the red carpet for its Costume Institute gala, it has rolled out a green carpet of grass turf for its annual roof garden exhibit: Two-Way Hedge Labyrinth Walkabout, a collaboration between American artist Dan Graham and Swiss landscape architect Günther Vogt.

“I designed the changing convex and concave pavilion as a funhouse for kids and a photo op for parents,” said Graham at Monday’s press preview. “The work relates to Central Park and to the earlier works in my collection.” Some of his prior projects are on view in a companion exhibit on the museum’s second floor. That multimedia display encompasses photos, architectural models, videos, and a smaller, triangular-shaped glass pavilion with circular cutouts.
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Watch: William S. Burroughs Has a Gun

William S. Burroughs (1914-1997) was not inclined to share the frame. He made exceptions for things he adored, including cigarettes, cats, guns, and pretty much anything that connoted or denoted danger. Artist Kate Simon photographed the Beat writer over two decades, from 1975 to 1995, and an exhibition of her portraits is on view through May 9 at the London shop of Nick Knight‘s Showstudio. The below video focuses on one shot of Burroughs, with gun, as part of a series of interviews with Simon by SHOWstudio Shop’s associate director Niamh White.

Snuff Bottles and Moon Jars! Five Must-See Asia Week New York Exhibits

Writer Nancy Lazarus heads to the Far East without leaving Manhattan as she takes in the sixth annual Asia Week and offers up five highlights.

Kaneko Toru Blue Rust #1 2009
Kaneko Toru’s Blue Rust #1 (2009) is on view during Asia Week at Lesley Kehoe Galleries.

Spring marks the arrival of Asia Week New York. The nine-day event (March 14-22), a marathon of 47 gallery shows and 19 auction sales, along with museum exhibitions and special events, offers the opportunity to admire a wealth of ancient and modern treasures. We’ve picked five exhibits where the themes, settings, timeless works, contemporary pieces, or unique techniques reward close looking. They’re listed by location, starting in midtown.

Lesley Kehoe Galleries (Melbourne, Australia-based gallery specializing in Japanese art; has Asia Week gallery space in Fuller Building at 41 East 57th Street, 5th floor)
The Transcendent Spirit, a special Asia Week exhibit, highlights works of seven Japanese artists. Owner Lesley Kehoe believes “there’s not another culture with the patience and self-discipline to master these complex techniques.” Mitsuo Shoji creates paintings, calligraphy, and objects. He’s inspired by Buddhist chanting and fascinated with fire, using traditional Japanese foils to fire canvases. Kaneko Toru and Kidera Yuko specialize in metalworks. Yoku hammers flat metal sheets to create spirited female forms of dance and song. Toru uses copper oxide and enameled metals to craft colorful tin-plated decorative vessels with exotic textures.

Ralph M. Chait Galleries (specializes in Chinese art; 730 Fifth Avenue at 57th Street, Crown Building, 12th floor)
For Asia Week, the oldest U.S. firm dealing in Chinese art is focusing on porcelain, silver sculpture, root carvings, and a collection of 20 snuff bottles dating from the 18th-20th centuries. Though miniature in size, the bottles were quite eye-catching, especially given the variety of animal and botanical motifs, shapes, and design types. Some were inlaid, while others were carved, painted, or embellished. Among the gemstones were lapis, jasper, jade, rhodonite, and moss agate. A stopper in a matching or contrasting color sat atop each bottle.
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Eight Years B.C.: Bill Cunningham Exhibit Opens at NY Historical Society

Intrepid blue-smocked street photographer Bill Cunningham turned 85 yesterday, and the New York Historical Society marked the occasion with a press preview of an exhibit of his photographs. We dispatched writer Nancy Lazarus—via bicycle, of course—to take in the architectural riches and fashion history of New York through Cunningham’s lens. The show opens to the public today.

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(All photos courtesy New York Historical Society)

billWhile his images don’t depict biblical times, Bill Cunningham did delve back to the Civil War, Victorian era, and Gilded Age for his eight-year-long project, Facades. From 1968-1976, the New York Times photographer who documented social, architecture, and fashion trends collected over 500 outfits and shot more than 1,800 locations around New York City. Editta Sherman, his friend, neighbor and fellow photographer, served as project collaborator and frequent subject.

Cunningham donated 88 black-and-white images from his photo essay to the New York Historical Society in 1976, and 80 gelatin silver prints and enlarged images are on display through June 15. Valerie Paley, NYHS historian and vice president for scholarly programs, curated the exhibit, and she said assistant curator Lilly Tuttle, found the photos in the museum’s archives. “We have so many undiscovered treasures, and we’re delighted to rediscover them,” said Paley.

Although Cunningham wasn’t on hand for yesterday’s preview, Paley said he was enthusiastic about the exhibit and had pitched in to locate details of specific photos. Many of his quotes accompany the exhibit highlights. The display is arranged by historic era, and additional photos in the collection are projected onto the walls of the museum’s side entrance rotunda.
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City as Canvas: MCNY Explores Origins of Graffiti Art

Once upon a time, before Banksy murals were making the covers of auction catalogues, what many today know as street art was viewed as urban blight. Martin Wong saw creativity ripe for collecting. A new exhibition brings together works from his trove and traces the evolution of the New York graffiti art movement. We tagged writer Nancy Lazarus to take a sneak peek.

Untitled by Zephyr, 1984, MCNY
Pictured above, an untitled 1984 work by Zephyr, a key figure in the transition of the writing movement from trains to canvas. The below portrait of artist and collector Martin Wong was taken in 1985 by Peter Bellamy. (All images courtesy of the Museum of the City of New York)

Martin Wong by Peter Bellamy, 1985, MCNY“Street art has become the biggest art movement the world has seen,” said Sandra Fabara, the graffiti artist known as Lady Pink. She was one of the few female artists involved in the street scene of Manhattan’s Lower East Side during the 1970s and 1980s. That’s where Martin Wong, an avid collector, befriended and mentored a group of fellow graffiti artists.

“He was passionate, not just a patron,” said Christopher Ellis, aka Daze, one of many members of the group who paid tribute to the late Wong on Monday at the Museum of the City of New York (MCNY), which today opened an exhibition of works from Wong’s pioneering collection. On view through August 24, “City as Canvas: Graffiti from the Martin Wong Collection” consists of nearly half of the 300 mixed media pieces that Wong donated to the museum in 1994, five years before he died of AIDS. Sean Corcoran, MCNY’s curator of prints and photographs, curated the show, and the artists helped to identify many of the pieces in the exhibition.
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Friday Photo: In the Studio with Robert Rauschenberg

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François Halard, Robert Rauschenberg Portrait #2, 1998. (Image courtesy Demisch Danant)

The puckish Robert Rauschenberg at work and play in his studio in Captiva Island, Florida. Blurred geometry at Pierre Chareau’s Maison de Verre. The crumbling grandeur of the Villa Noailles. Pleated pottery arrayed in Cy Twombly’s bedroom. These are some of the dreamy spaces, people, and places captured over the past two decades by François Halard, the subject of a career-spanning exhibition that opens Saturday at New York’s Demisch Danant gallery. Many of the works in “François Halard: Architecture” have never before been published or exhibited—don’t miss the Polaroids, including the mind-blowing dolce vita view from Twombly’s studio in Southern Italy.

Mark Your Calendar: Art Spiegelman and Phillip Johnston’s Wordless!

wordlessTry as we might, we can never get enough of Art Spiegelman—in the unlikely event that you disagree, treat yourself to a copy of Co-Mix: A Retrospective of Comics, Graphics, and Scraps (Drawn and Quarterly). That illuminating and illuminated volume also functions as a catalogue of sorts for the Spiegelfest on view through March 23 at New York’s Jewish Museum. The outside-of-the-box comics/art fun moves from the page to the wall to the stage on Saturday, January 18, when BAM presents Wordless!. Billed as “an innovative hybrid of slides, talk, and musical performance,” the work was created by Spiegelman and jazz composer Phillip Johnston as a commission for the Sydney Opera House. Tickets are going fast. Prepare for the evening of multisensory stimulation with this Spiegelvideo from the Jewish Museum:

Watch: Sebastian Junger and Ron Haviv Talk ‘Testimony’

What is like to be on the front lines, armed with only a camera and surging adrenaline? Ron Haviv has 23 years worth of answers. The photojournalist’s work across 18 countries unfurls in “Testimony,” an exhibition on view through January 31 at New York’s Anastasia Photo gallery. “I believe and have dedicated my life to witnessing history in an attempt to create a body of evidence that holds people accountable,” Haviv has said. In this video, the first in a new series produced by the gallery, Haviv is joined by Sebastian Junger for a discussion about war, stories, pictures, emotions, and what happens when those things collide.

New York Historical Society Readies Bill Cunningham Photo Exhibition

(Bill Cunningham)
Bill Cunningham’s photo of Editta Sherman on the subway dates to around 1968-1976.

With the first snow flurries behind us and the deep freeze still ahead, we turn our thoughts briefly to spring, a season inevitably heralded by a selection of pastel-hued or floral-dappled ensembles captured by Bill Cunningham. This March the beloved New York Times photographer gets a spotlight of his own as the New York Historical Society mounts “Façades,” an exhibition that will explore Cunningham’s eight-year project documenting the architectural riches and fashion history of New York City. The photos, taken between 1968 and 1976, pair models in period costumes with historic settings such as St. Paul’s Chapel and Rockefeller Center. Fellow photographer Editta Sherman, captured in profile in front of Grand Central Station crowned in an elaborate hat (recall Cunningham’s early career as a milliner), manages to give Jules-Félix Coutan‘s mythological statues a run for their money.

Quote of Note | Ian Buruma

(Balthus)“To be sure, the marvelous paintings by Balthus of the twelve-year-old Thérèse [Blanchard], dreamily gazing at the viewer with her white panties showing (Thérèse with Cat, 1937), or the painting reproduced in the catalog of the nude Laurence Bataille (daughter of Georges Bataille) stretched back, cat-like, in a chair, while a sinister-looking person draws the curtains to throw light on her naked form (The Room, 1952–1954), are unsettling, but not because of anything pornographic….What is disturbing about Balthus’s pictures of girls is not just the age of his models, but the atmosphere, which is creepy, full of dread and latent violence, and yet extraordinarily beautiful. Girls are trapped in angular, often torturous poses in tight gloomy spaces. There is something in Balthus’s art of those claustrophobic Victorian novels about children locked up in dark attics.”

-Ian Buruma, writing in The New York Review of Books about “Balthus: Cats and Girls—Paintings and Provocations,” on view through January 12 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Pictured: Balthus. Thérèse Dreaming (1938)

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