Three exhibitions to see in New York this weekend

From gilded figures at the Hispanic Society Museum and Library to Christo at Galerie Gmurzynska

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Attributed to Manuel Chili, known as Caspicara, Soul in Hell fromThe Four Fates of Man: Death; Soul in Heaven; Soul in Purgatory; Soul in Hell (around 1775). Courtesy Hispanic Society Museum and Library.

Attributed to Manuel Chili, known as Caspicara, Soul in Hell fromThe Four Fates of Man: Death; Soul in Heaven; Soul in Purgatory; Soul in Hell (around 1775). Courtesy Hispanic Society Museum and Library.

Gilded Figures: Wood and Clay Made Flesh
Until 9 January 2022 at the Hispanic Society Museum and Library, 613 West 155th Street, Manhattan

While its main museum building remains closed awaiting renovation, the Hispanic Society is restarting its exhibition programme in a new gallery in its East Building with an exhibition of exquisite painted religious statuary and sculptures from Spain and Latin America. The more than 20 examples on view are drawn almost entirely from the society’s impressive permanent collection, most of them acquired within the last 20 years, according to head curator Patrick Lenaghan—who co-organised the show with head of conversation Hélène Fontoira-Marzin—as the wider institutional acceptance of such works of art grew to view them as more than church decorations. How that acceptance could have come so late is hard to understand when you peer at the emotive faces of saints and allegorical scenes gathered in the show, their spiritual anguish or ecstasy captured so vividly by the artists through the warm and supple pairing of paint and wood. Highlights include a life-sized and incredibly detailed statue of St Louis of France by the Spanish artist Juan de Mesa—the show’s only loan, from Madrid’s Nicolás Cortés Gallery—as well as a doll-sized Imagen de Vestir, meant for more personal devotion and dressed in richly embroidered clothes.

Christo: Nature/Environment
Until 31 December at Galerie Gmurzynska, 43 East 78th Street, Manhattan

Schedule to coincide with the unveiling of Christo’s monumental posthumous work L'Arc de Triomphe, Wrapped in Paris, a project that came to fruition in September after six decades of planning and preparation, the multi-part exhibition presents a series of preparatory drawings and collages for various US-based projects, some that were realised and others that never materialised. Some of the studies, which date from 1968 to 2013 and feature photographs that are superimposed with paint and pastels, fabric and twine, invite the viewer to dig deeper into the often controversial history of each project. Studies for Over the River, Project for the Arkansas River, State of Colorado (1992-2017)—a $50m project in which the artist planned to suspend silver fabric panels over a 42 mile stretch of the Arkansas river—illustrate how Christo’s career has been mired in legal battles, and the complex logistics of his work. Christo cancelled the project in 2017 after it was fiercely opposed by locals citing environmental concerns, and other projects like works envisioned to wrap several buildings in midtown Manhattan were ultimately denied by city officials. Gmurzynska’s Zürich outpost is devoted to works throughout Europe.

Surrealism Beyond Borders
Until 30 January 2022 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1000 5th Avenue, Manhattan

The Met’s Surrealism exhibition considers the international breadth of the art movement, looking at how it spiralled outwards from its Parisian origins. It spans eight galleries and hundreds of works from over 40 countries. Familiar pieces by pioneers of the movement including Max Ernst and Giorgio de Chirico are presented alongside lesser-known artists such as the Portuguese poet and artist Artur Cruzeiro Seixas and the Argentine painter Antonio Berni, whose work Landru in the Hotel, Paris (1932) serves as an example of the movement’s influence in South America. “Surrealism is inherently dynamic and has travelled and evolved from place to place and time to time,” says Stephanie D’Alessandro, the curator who co-organised the exhibition with Matthew Gale, a senior curator-at-large at the Tate Modern, where the exhibition will travel in February next year. “Its scope is—and always has been—transnational, extending across borders to unite ideas and people while also remaining specific and local in its liberatory drive.”

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