August 19, 2019

38 Art Exhibitions to View in N.Y.C. This Weekend

38 Art Exhibitions to View in N.Y.C. This Weekend

‘T. REX: THE ULTIMATE PREDATOR’ at the American Museum of Natural History (through Aug. 9, 2020). Everyone’s favorite 18,000-pound prehistoric killer gets the star treatment in this eye-opening exhibition, which presents the latest scientific research on T. rex and also introduces many other tyrannosaurs, some discovered only this century in China and Mongolia. T. rex evolved mainly during the Cretaceous period to have keen eyes, spindly arms and massive conical teeth, which packed a punch that has never been matched by any other creature; the dinosaur could even swallow whole bones, as affirmed here by a kid-friendly display of fossilized excrement. The show mixes 66-million-year-old teeth with the latest 3-D prints of dino bones, and also presents new models of T. rex as a baby, a juvenile and a full-grown annihilator. Turns out this most savage beast was covered with — believe it! — a soft coat of beige or white feathers. (Farago)

‘WALT WHITMAN: AMERICA’S POET’ at the New York Public Library (through Aug. 30) and ‘WALT WHITMAN: BARD OF DEMOCRACY’ at the Morgan Library & Museum (through Sept. 15). “I am large, I contain multitudes,” Whitman wrote in “Song of Myself.” And this summer, New York has been hosting an unusually large and varied selection of artifacts of its most celebrated literary son in honor of his bicentennial birthday, which was on May 31. The public library’s exhibition surveys the landmarks of the poet’s public career, drawing in large part from its rich holdings. The one at the Morgan features objects from its collection, too, alongside loans from the Library of Congress, including an errant 19th-century butterfly with a back story as colorful as its wings. (Jennifer Schuessler)

‘2019 WHITNEY BIENNIAL’ at the Whitney Museum of American Art (through Sept. 22). Given the political tensions that have sent spasms through the nation over the past two years, you might have expected — hoped — that this year’s biennial would be one big, sharp Occupy-style yawp. It isn’t. Politics are present but, with a few notable exceptions, murmured, coded, stitched into the weave of fastidiously form-conscious, labor-intensive work. As a result, the exhibition, organized by two young Whitney curators, Rujeko Hockley and Jane Panetta, gives the initial impression of being a well-groomed group show rather than a statement of resistance. But once you start looking closely, the impression changes artist by artist, piece by piece — there’s quiet agitation in the air. (Cotter)

‘VIOLET HOLDINGS: LGBTQ+ HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE N.Y.U. SPECIAL COLLECTIONS’ at Bobst Library (through Dec. 31). With the Stonewall Inn now a National Historic Landmark (and a bar again; it was a bagel shop in the 1980s), nearby New York University has produced a homegrown archival exhibition at Bobst Library, across the park from Grey Art Gallery. Organized by Hugh Ryan, it takes the local history of queer identity back to the 19th century with documents on Elizabeth Robins (1862-1952), an American actor, suffragist and friend of Virginia Woolf, and forward with ephemera related to the musician and drag king Johnny Science (1955-2007) and the African-American D.J. Larry Levan (1954-92), who, in the 1980s, presided, godlike, at a gay disco called the Paradise Garage, which was a short walk from the campus. (Cotter)

‘ARTISTS RESPOND: AMERICAN ART AND THE VIETNAM WAR, 1965-1975’ (through Aug. 18) and ‘TIFFANY CHUNG: VIETNAM, PAST IS PROLOGUE’ (through Sept. 2) at Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington. Everything in “Artists Respond,” a big, inspiriting blast of a historical survey, dates from a time when the United States was losing its soul, and its artists — some, anyway — were trying to save theirs by denouncing a racist war. Figures well known for their politically hard-hitting work — Judith Bernstein, Leon Golub, Hans Haacke, Peter Saul, Nancy Spero — are here in strength. But so are others, like Dan Flavin and Donald Judd and Barnett Newman, seldom associated with visual activism. Concurrent with the survey is a smaller, fine-tuned show by a contemporary Vietnamese-born artist, Tiffany Chung; it views the war through the eyes of people on the receiving end of aggression. (Cotter)

‘LIZ JOHNSON ARTUR: DUSHA’ at the Brooklyn Museum (through Aug. 18). Trying to guess the identity of a photographer by her images is a dubious game, as Johnson Artur proves in this exhibition. Born in Bulgaria to a Russian mother and a Ghanaian father, she trains her camera on neighborhoods in London, Brooklyn and Russia. Some of the best works are the ones of Brooklyn, with dancers in ecstatic poses and audiences urging them on. As a photographer for fashion and music magazines like i-D, The Face and Vibe, Johnson Artur has specialized in people for whom self-fashioning is a way of life. She has forged her own path within the realm of identity politics and has something to teach New Yorkers, who often pride themselves on their diversity. Forget labels, she’s saying. You can be many things. (Schwendener)

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