Wednesday, February 19, 2020

ArtBeat#4: Must-See Art Exhibits in New York City

[After the COVID-19 shutdown, the WHITNEY opens Sept 3, 2020 & the Brooklyn Museum of Art on Sept 12, 2020. Several exhibits have been extended!]
Diego Rivera, Detroit Industry, North Wall-lower panel, 1932–33
(photo: Courtesy Whitney Museum)
99 Gansevoort St;
(Until Jan 31, 2021)
This is a stunning and important exhibit. Not only did Mexico’s three leading muralists—Diego Rivera, David Alfaro Siqueiros, and José Clemente Orozco--have a profound influence on art in general, they had a specific influence on American artists of the period, grappling with the Great Depression and the subsequent ravages of economic injustice. The Mexican artists created pieces portraying the working man's life and struggles that resonated with the public at large. They used the reality of social and political injustice to create masterpieces. The American artists were influenced not only by the subject matter of the Mexican painters, but also by their painting styles. (A fascinating factoid: Jackson Pollack, considered one of the major American artists of the 20th-century, learned his drip-painting style in a Siqueiros workshop!)
Frida Kahlo, Me and My Parrots, 1941 (photo: Courtesy Whitney Museum)
The artwork on display in Vida Americana is so exciting! In addition to the work by the famed Mexican muralists--Rivera, Siqueiros, and Orozco--"los tres grandes," other key Mexican artists featured include: Miguel Covarrubias, María Izquierdo, Frida Kahlo, Mardonio Magaña, Alfredo Ramos Martínez, and Rufino Tamayo.
Presented alongside is artwork by their American contemporaries, both well-known and under-recognized, including: Thomas Hart Benton, Elizabeth Catlett, Aaron Douglas, Marion Greenwood, William Gropper, Philip Guston, Eitarō Ishigaki, Jacob Lawrence, Harold Lehman, Fletcher Martin, Isamu Noguchi, Jackson Pollock, Ben Shahn, Thelma Johnson Streat, Charles White, and Hale Woodruff. 

Aaron Douglas, Aspiration, 1936
(photo: Courtesy Whitney Museum)
Vida Americana is a piñata of mind-blowing artwork: world-famous paintings, frescoes, sculptures, archival film clips &
photographs as well as you-are-there displays of the fabulous 1930s' murals in the Abelardo L. Rodriguez Market in Mexico City and the Rivera murals in the Detroit Institute of Arts. Go see it today! ¡Vamos!


Jacques-Louis David, Napoleon Crossing the Alps, 1801 & Kehinde Wiley, Napoleon Leading the Army over the Alps, 2005 (photo: Courtesy RMN-GP & BMA)
Brooklyn Museum of Art
200 Eastern Pkwy, Brooklyn;
Most major museums are guilty of displaying artwork predominantly done by white males. BMA has consistently presented work from a wide variety of artists and these exhibits are excellent examples of that diversity:
Jacques-Louis David Meets Kehinde Wiley (Closed)
Kehinde Wiley (who did President Obama’s magnificent portrait) feels that the canon of important art pieces throughout history--stately portraits, public statues, bronze busts, etc.--have celebrated the achievements of white men, overlooking the Black cultural contribution. To address this inequity, Wiley started a series of artworks, Rumors of War. This exhibit features a few pieces from that series, spotlighting Napoleon Leading the Army over the Alps, Wiley's counterpoint to Jacques-Louis David's famous Napoleon Crossing the Alps. While Wiley's works can't right ever slight, they certainly get the conversation going!
Out of Place: A Feminist Look at the Collection 
(Reopens Oct 23, 2020)
Polly Apfelbaum, The Dwarves without Snow White
(photo: Courtesy BMA)
The title says it all: For too long, artwork by female artists has been considered "out of place" in museums and other cultural institutions. This exhibit features interesting--often whimsical--work by 44 female artists: including Louise Bourgeois, Beverly Buchanan, Chryssa, Thornton Dial, Helen Frankenthaler, Lourdes Grobet, Betye Saar, Judith Scott, Carolee Schneemann, Joan Snyder, and Emmi Whitehorse. Over half the works are on view for the first time, including key pieces from BMA's collection as well as new acquisitions.
Jeffrey Gibson: When Fire Is Applied to a Stone It Cracks
(Until Jan 10, 2021)

Jeffrey Gibson artwork & 
Charles Cary Rumsey, Dying Indian, 1900 
(photo: J. Carnegie)
Artist Jeffrey Gibson is of Choctaw and Cherokee descent. In this exhibit, Gibson questions long-held institutional categorizations and representations of Indigenous peoples and their art. Using objects from BMA's Native American art collection, along with examples of his recent work, Gibson creates a new narrative.
Climate in Crisis: Environmental Change in the Indigenous Americas (Until Jun 20, 2021)
This superb exhibit, featuring magnificent artifacts, explores the complex worldviews of Indigenous communities and how their beliefs, practices, and ways of living have been impacted by the ongoing threat of environmental destruction.
African Arts―Global Conversations
(Until Nov 15, 2020)
On view are 33 works, including 20 by African artists. Some are new acquisitions, other are never-before-exhibited objects. Presented in the 1st-floor gallery and in "parings" throughout the museum. By pairing diverse African works with pieces in BMA's collection, the idea is to get the viewer to reconsider the place of often-marginalized African art in the overall history of art.
Kuba artist, Mask, late 19th century & Gilbert Stuart, George Washington, 1796
(photo: Courtesy BMA)

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