WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 27Talk: Lisa Oppenheim and Sara VanDerBeek at Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
Between MoMA’s 2015 iteration of “New Photography,” titled “Ocean of Images,” and the Guggenheim’s “Photo-Poetics: An Anthology,” it’s clear that intellectual photography is back. The influence of Conceptual art, ever the reference point for contemporary artists, is being felt especially in photography—artists are using it as a way of exploring how the camera represents people, places, and things. For this talk, Lisa Oppenheim (who currently has a show at Tanya Bonakdar Gallery) and Sara VanDerBeek, two artists in “Photo-Poetics,” will be discussing their work. Both photograph objects and proceed to digital manipulate them, questioning in the process how we perceive still lifes in the digital age.
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, 1071 Fifth Avenue, 6:30 p.m., $5/$10/$15
Opening: Mickalene Thomas at Aperture Foundation
Like a combination of Malick Sidibé’s studio portraits of Malian youth and ’70s blaxploitation films, Mickalene Thomas’s photographs of black women are visually dynamic and positively genuine. Though better known for bedazzled paintings, Thomas makes photographs that also deal with the nature of beauty. How do we think about blackness and femininity today? Is it any different from Impressionist odalisques, frequent references in her work? And why are ’70s images of black women still so compelling? This show, titled “Muse,” takes a look at Thomas’s photography, placing it alongside work by Carrie Mae Weems, Zanele Muholi, LaToya Ruby Frazier, and others, all of whom continue to influence Thomas as she works.
Aperture Foundation, 547 West 27th Street, 4th Floor, 7–8:30 p.m.
Gregory Crewdson’s cinematic photographs of suburbia bring to mind a host of filmmakers—David Lynch, Alfred Hitchcock, and Douglas Sirk, among others. For his newest series, “Cathedral of Pines,” Crewdson leaves suburbia for the woods, and with that go many of his inspirations. It’s Lynch whose influence perhaps hangs most heavily over these new scenes, which still contain the dreamy quality of Crewdson’s past work, but now with a renewed sense of loneliness. Like Twin Peaks meets Albert Bierstadt’s 19th-century paintings of overwhelming American nature, the 31 new photographs in this series evoke anxiety and sublimity in equal amounts.
Gagosian Gallery, 522 West 21st Street, 6–8 p.m.
Opening: Irving Penn at Pace
One of the giants of 20th-century photography, Irving Penn made work that still, today, is instantly recognizable because it appeared in the pages of Vanity Fair, Vogue, the New Yorker. Though better known for his commercial campaigns and iconic couture fashion photography, this new exhibition, simply titled “Personal Work,” hints at a fascinating glimpse into the private mind behind the camera lens, and the daily life that appeared in front of it.
Pace Gallery, 534 West 25th Street, 6–8 p.m.
Adapted from a novel by the late composer Robert Ashley, this three-act play in 16 scenes features choreography by Steve Paxton, a score by Tom Hamilton, and lights by David Moodey. The story follows a composer who was been intimidated by a faction of the U.S. government (called “the Company”) to serve as a spy abroad. Once he arrives in an unspecified country in South Asia, which is headed by a military dictatorship, he joined forces with two tour guides to overthrow the corrupt political structure and take down the country’s leaders.
The Kitchen, 512 West 19th Street, 7 p.m., $20. Opening: Peter Hujar at Paul Kasmin
Paul Kasmin Gallery has partnered with Pace/MacGill for their first show of over 20 photographs by Peter Hujar, who captured the unforgettable downtown scene of 1970s to ’80s New York in the form of nudes and classical portraits. This show, appropriately titled “Lost Downtown,” features figures who lived within the same few blocks as Hujar did—David Wojnarowicz, Paul Thek, John Waters, Edwin Denby, Susan Sontag, Fran Lebowitz, and William Burroughs. As Stephen Koch writes in a press release,
It’s a vanished world, and Peter Hujar was right there in it. The Lower East Side between 1972 and 1985 – filled with artists, wannabe artists and hangers-on – was a community of the misbegotten gathered from every town in America and relocated in the mean streets between Broadway and the Bowery. That Downtown is forever gone. Time, gentrification, disease and death took their toll. But before it vanished, its extravagant cast sat for Peter Hujar’s camera – and is now alive again in front of our eyes.
Paul Kasmin Gallery, 297 Tenth Avenue, 6–8 p.m.FRIDAY, JANUARY 29
Opening: “Wagner’s Ring: Forging an Epic” at the Morgan Library and Museum
“Wagner’s Ring: Forging an Epic” spotlights the opening of Richard Wagner’s magnum opus, the four-part opera Der Ring des Nibelungen, at the Bayreuth in 1876 and at the Metropolitan Opera in New York in 1889. Not only will the show take a behind-the-scenes look at Wagner’s process of creation, it will also display memorabilia and documents from the archives of the Morgan Library, the Met, and the Richard Wagner Museum in Bayreuth. As well, the show will trace tangential stories, such as the operas’ Scandinavian folkloric inspiration, King King Ludwig II of Bavaria’s patronage, and more.
Morgan Library and Museum, 225 Madison Avenue, 10:30 a.m.–9 p.m.
Ridgewood gallery Kimberly-Klark throws a fundraising event at the popular restaurant China Chalet in the Financial District, featuring DJ sets by Huerco S., DJ Sapphire, and Bookworms. The latter has in the past released raw electronica for the label L.I.E.S. The event also doubles as a release party for a run of limited edition patches designed by the artist Quintessa Matranga.
China Chalet, 47 Broadway, 10 p.m.–3 a.m., $10 for tickets bought online, $15 for tickets bought at the door
SUNDAY, JANUARY 31Opening: “When Did Intimacy Begin Width” at Jeffrey Stark
“What does pushing the boundaries of drawing do for the rest of the works that come into contact with it?” This was Torey Thornton’s question when he curated “When Did Intimacy Begin Width,” a group exhibition at Jeffrey Stark that solely consists of drawings. Most people think of drawings as being the intermediary step for something bigger and better, but not so for Thornton, and so he’s asked a bunch of artists, many of whom are people you wouldn’t peg for avid drawers, to submit theirs. Notable artists in this show include Cameron Rowland (who has a show on view at Artists Space), Susan Cianciolo, and Christopher Knowles.
Jeffrey Stark, 88 East Broadway #B11, 6–8 p.m.