TUESDAY, JULY 12
Opening: “diane arbus: in the beginning” at Met Breuer
This show of more than 100 works by the New York–based photographer, who died in 1971 at age 48, has been hotly anticipated for months, and it is almost sure to live up to the hype. (Never mind the fact that the last time a major Diane Arbus show was held was only a little over 10 years ago, and that it was at the Metropolitan Museum of Art of all places.) Featuring photographs that have never been exhibited before, “diane arbus: in the beginning” will take a deep dive into the first seven years of Arbus’s career, from 1956 to 1962. In that time, Arbus began photographing outsiders—the transgender performers on the fringes of society, the eccentrics who walked the streets of Manhattan, the Times Square impersonators who became someone else to fit in. Who these photographs’ subjects chose to be determined where they ended up in society; for them, identity was performed as a means of survival. —Alex Greenberger
Met Breuer, 945 Madison Avenue, 10 a.m.–5:30 p.m.
WEDNESDAY, JULY 13
Opening: “Art AIDS America” at Bronx Museum of the Arts
While it’s a well-known fact that AIDS shook the art world in the ’80s, a comprehensive history of how artists responded hadn’t been written until last year, when the Tacoma Art Museum staged “Art AIDS America.” Now the show travels to New York, where it will open this week at the Bronx Museum of Arts. Featuring over 125 works, the exhibition aims to create a fuller portrait of the anger, sadness, and destruction artists felt over the loss of their friends, colleagues, and lovers. This version of the show will take a close look at how artists in the Bronx reacted, with work by Willie Cole, Glenn Ligon, and Whitfield Lovell, among others.
Bronx Museum of the Arts, 1040 Grand Concourse, 11 a.m.–6 p.m.
Opening: “Human Ecology” at Galeria Nara Roesler
Featuring work by Isaac Julien, Lucia Koch, and Eduardo Navarro, this three-person show is loosely themed around the idea of humans responding to their environments. For Koch and Navarro, this is accomplished through nature. Koch’s “Air Temperature” works turn the sunsets into a series of orange-red curtains, while documentation of a Navarro performance at this year’s Frieze New York project show performers trying to follow clouds. Julien takes a more metaphorical approach to this theme with his video Stones Against Diamonds (2015), in which the artist visually depicts the Italian designer Lina Bo Bardi trying to access the inner workings of her own mind by writing about diamonds.
Galeria Nara Roesler, 47 West 28th Street, 6–8 p.m.
Opening: “9 Objects” at Ryan Lee
This show doesn’t come with much information, but it has a charmingly old-school name: “9 Objects.” You can expect to be just that, with one work be each person on its artist list. The show will feature work by Robert Arneson, Joseph Beuys, Willie Cole, Yayoi Kusama, Man Ray, James Rosenquist, Donald Sultan, Stephanie Syjuco, and Lawrence Weiner.
Ryan Lee, 515 West 26th Street, 6–8 p.m.
THURSDAY, JULY 14
Opening: “Melodrama, Act 2: New York” at Luxembourg & Dayan
In the second part of a two-act group exhibition split across Luxembourg & Dayan’s London and New York outposts, a series of works will “function as characters in a melodramatic play,” according to a release. At the New York show, Vincenzo Gemito’s 19th-century wax Portrait of Giuseppe Verdi will share space with Jeff Koons’ stainless steel Italian Woman, and Urs Fischer’s Untitled (a chair held by disembodied hands) is within arms reach from Richard Serra’s film Hand Catching Lead.
Luxembourg & Dayan, 64 East 77th Street, 10 a.m.–5 p.m.
Opening: Alma Thomas at Studio Museum in Harlem
No more than three or four years ago, most people wouldn’t have recognized the name Alma Thomas, and now she’s everywhere. In the last year alone, the Obamas held Passover seder in front of a Thomas painting that they acquired for the White House, and the Whitney Museum included her work in its art-history-revising inaugural show “America Is Hard to See.” And now comes a major retrospective for the painter, whose colorful paintings typically feature parallel paint strokes arranged to create abstract, cosmic landscapes. Drawing on the legacies of Henri Matisse and Wassily Kandinsky, Thomas, who died in 1978 at age 86, took painterly abstraction—a medium that had been primarily white and masculine (she was black)—and made it her own: a personal project, with formal experiments with line and color to boot. This show is sure to position Thomas as one of the most startling, exciting recent re-discoveries. —Alex Greenberger
Studio Museum in Harlem, 144 West 125th Street, 12–9 p.m.
Opening: Gabriel de la Mora at the Drawing Center
After using hair, Post-It notes, and styrofoam toward transcendent ends, Gabriel de la Mora will debut new works in which, in place of paper, speaker screens are the medium. Tossed-out materials are the norm in the Mexican artist’s practice, and these speaker screens are found objects. Paired together, they reflect an interest in time and chance—the dust that has collected on them comes after use of disuse. Once meant for blasting music or the soundtracks to TV shows, the speakers are now objects that reflect the passage of time.
The Drawing Center, 35 Wooster Street, 6–8 p.m.
Opening: David Medalla at Venus
The second exhibition at Venus of work by the seminal kinetic and participatory artist David Medalla, this show will provide a holistic overview of Madella’s artistic practice, featuring paintings, photographs, sculpture and ephemera. It will also include two versions of A Stitch in Time, the artist’s influential piece in which needles and spools of colored thread are availed to gallery goers, allowing them to stitch messages on fabric. Photos documenting previous incarnations of the piece in front of various attractions around London will also be on display.
Venus, 980 Madison Avenue, 6–8 p.m.
FRIDAY, JULY 15
Talk: John Lewis in Conversation with Danny Lyon at Whitney Museum
Rather than having Danny Lyon give a plain artist talk about his current retrospective, the Whitney Museum has appropriately chosen to have him discuss his career with U.S. Representative John Lewis. The only remaining “Big Six” leader of the Civil Rights Movement, Lewis was the chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), whose protests and activism Lyon photographed during the ’60s. In a literal fusion of art and politics, Lewis, who was awarded the Medal of Freedom in 2010, and Lyon will discuss civil liberties, gun control, and voting rights.
Whitney Museum, 99 Gansevoort Street, 7:30–9 p.m. Tickets $15/$12