With an ever-growing number of galleries scattered around New York, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. Where to begin? Here at A.i.A., we are always on the hunt for thought-provoking, clever and memorable shows that stand out in a crowded field. Below is a selection of current shows our team of editors can’t stop talking about.
This week we check out a rare presentation of Stan VanDerBeek’s haunting and humorous collages at American Contemporary, Yayoi Kusama’s dot-filled paintings and installations in her retrospective at the Whitney, and a lively painting and sculpture group show benefiting Bard College at Luhring Augustine.
Stan VanDerBeek at American Contemporary, through Aug. 17
Movie-Drome, Stan VanDerBeek’s 1963 dome-shaped enclosure in the New Museum’s “Ghosts in the Machine” show, is currently wowing viewers with its cacophony of projected films, drawings and slides. Nearby, at the gallery American Contemporary, are the late experimental filmmaker’s collages, all of which eventually made their way into his films, as well as drawing and writings from the ‘50s and ‘60s.
“Painting in Space” at Luhring Augustine, through Aug. 17
A real no-brainer—in the best sense—this roundup features paintings and sculptures donated by 25 international artists in support of the Center for Curatorial Studies at Bard College. Among the artists brought in by executive director Tom Eccles and program director Johanna Burton are Carol Bove, Olafur Eliasson, Wade Guyton, Jacqueline Humphries, Tony Oursler, Pipilotti Rist, Amy Sillman and Rachel Whiteread.
Nicolás Guagnini at Miguel Abreu and Balice Hertling & Lewis, through Aug. 11
Nicolás Guagnini’s seven monochromatic grisaille paintings reference a graffitied wall along the Rue de Seine reading “Ne Travaillez Jamais” (Never Work); two paintings are on view at a time, one at each gallery, with all seven cycling through each space throughout the course of the exhibition. The French phrase, popularized during the May ’68 revolts, has a complex back story: Guy Debord reproduced an image of the graffiti in a Situationist journal; when he was accused of plagiarizing a postcard where a photo of the text first appeared, he claimed to have been the original creator, years earlier, of the now-infamous three-word command.
Yayoi Kusama at the Whitney, through Sept. 30
Born in Japan in 1929, Yayoi Kusama is a living legend. She was part of the underground art scene in New York in the 1960s, where she developed a distinctively sensual approach to sculpture and installation. She is also an accomplished painter and an early video pioneer. Her work continued to evolve after her return to Japan in 1973. Organized in collaboration with the Tate Modern, London, this retrospective contains representative pieces from all periods and is a fine overview of the artist’s career.
Wang Guangle at Pace 25th Street, through Aug. 17
Abstract painters are relatively rare in China, but Wang Guangle, who was born in 1976 and trained at the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing, has clearly plumbed the Western esthetic that produced Rothko, Albers et al. His large monochrome acrylics—light at the edges and progressively layered to a dark, visually receding center—create an illusionistic depth while simultaneously referencing a cultural practice in his native Fujian Province, where aging citizens add one coat of lacquer to their coffin each year until their demise.
“Rock, Paper, Scissors” at Leila Heller, through Aug. 18
Organized by the independent curatorial team of Sam Bardouil and Till Felrath (who brought the high-energy “Iran Inside Out” to the Chelsea Art Museum in 2009), this show marshals two-dimensional work, sculpture, film and installations into three formal categories keyed to the title of the venerable children’s game. The conceptual connections may be loose sometimes but the works themselves-by artists ranging from Jackson Pollock to Hadieh Shafie, from Louise Nevelson to Soonja Han-are esthetically solid. And the mix is as unpredictable as the game itself.
Amy Feldman at Blackston, through July 27
This weekend is your last chance to see Amy Feldman’s four large gray-and-white paintings, currently crowding into Blackston’s small LES space. The Brooklyn-based artist’s playfully messy acrylics call to mind fellow abstractionists Frank Stella (chevron shapes) and Mary Heilmann (visible paint drips).
“The Lookout” is compiled by A.i.A. associate editor Leigh Anne Miller.