MONDAY, DECEMBER 17
Exhibition: “Epic Abstraction: Pollock to Herrera” at Metropolitan Museum of Art
Bringing together more than 50 paintings, sculptures, and assemblages, this exhibition considers the evolution of abstraction between the 1940s and the 21st century. The show ruminates on ways in which large-scale abstract artworks have historically explored complex ideas related to the self, modernity, nature, and time. It features pieces drawn from the Met’s holdings as well as loans of major works by Helen Frankenthaler, Carmen Herrera, Shiraga, Cy Twombly, and others.
Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1000 Fifth Avenue, 10 a.m.–5:30 p.m.
WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 19
Performance: Sibyl Kempson at Whitney Museum
This week, Sibyl Kempson and her theater company 7 Daughters of Eve will perform the last iteration of 12 Shouts to the Ten Forgotten Heavens, a performance that has been staged at the Whitney Museum during every solstice and equinox over the last three years. The performances held daily between December 19 and 21 (the 21st is the solstice) will reflect on past seasons that figured in this project, with Wednesday’s edition focusing on the winter, spring, summer, and fall of 2016. Various materials, costumes, videos, photographs, and soundscapes from past “Shouts” will be on display, and vignettes and music by Kempson and collaborators will figure in the event.
Whitney Museum, 99 Gansevoort Street, 10:30 a.m.–6 p.m.
THURSDAY, DECEMBER 20
Talk: Shirin Neshat at Printed Matter
Shirin Neshat’s new photography book Dreamers is based on a trilogy of black-and-white video installations created by the artist between 2013 and 2016 to explore women’s dreams. On the occasion of the book’s launch, Printed Matter presents a conversation between Neshat and Phong Bui, the publisher of the Brooklyn Rail. In a statement, the artist, who will be the subject of a retrospective next year at the Broad in Los Angeles, said, “I have been haunted by the power of dreams, and in how it is only in the state of dreams where the boundaries between reality and fiction are blurred; and where human beings become truly free and naked.”
Printed Matter, 231 11th Avenue, 6–8 p.m.
FRIDAY, DECEMBER 21
Concert: “Where Are We Going? And What Are We Doing?/Quartet for the End of Time” at Rubin Museum of Art
Taking its title from a 1961 John Cage lecture and music composed by Oliver Messiaen, this program—organized by the collective Tenth Intervention and the pianist Adam Tender—draws on compositions dealing with the mutability of time. A reenactment of Cage’s lecture will be paired with a performance of his 1958 piano piece Concert for Piano and Orchestra, which relies on chance in its execution. Cage consulted the I Ching to set the work’s parameters, and its score—which takes the form of a labyrinth-like abstraction—ensures that no one performance of the concerto will be exactly the same.
Rubin Museum of Art, 150 West 17th Street, 7–8 p.m. Tickets $35
Screening: Female Trouble at Quad Cinema
John Waters, who is now the subject of a retrospective at the Baltimore Museum of Art, made his follow-up to the cult classic Pink Flamingos with this 1974 film, another of his gross-out works that defies any conceivable division between good and bad taste. Female Trouble follows Dawn Davenport (played by Divine), a young woman who, after a sexual encounter with a neighborhood creep, has a child and begins thirsting for fame and violence. Waters’s film plays at the Quad this week as part of a series of movies slapped with a rare X rating.
Quad Cinema, 34 West 13th Street, 6:45 p.m. Tickets $13/$16
Concert: “Phill Niblock: 6 Hours of Music and Film” at Roulette
For his annual Winter Solstice happening that goes big on droning music and mesmerizing films, the 85-year-old New York treasure Phill Niblock takes over Roulette’s downtown Brooklyn space and fills it with sound and vision for six hours straight. Expect occasional guests and collaborations at this multimedia concert, which centers on electronic drones of Niblock’s own making alongside projections of footage that he shot of people at labor around the world for his film series “The Movement of People Working.” The music, loud and enveloping, matches the meditational aspect of the films—making for an immersive experience fit for winter.
Roulette, 509 Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn, 6 p.m. Tickets $18/$25
Correction 12/18/18, 8:45 p.m.: An earlier version of this article misstated the date of the Shirin Neshat event at Printed Matter. It will happen on Thursday, December 20, not Wednesday, December 19. The post has been updated to reflect this.