Chryssa & New York
Dia Chelsea, until 23 July
On her first night in New York, in 1955, the Greek-born artist Chryssa found herself surrounded by the riotous glow of Times Square, the blinking signs shilling for Admiral appliances and Anheuser-Busch beer. The lit-up letters left an impact on the artist, who registered an enigmatic beauty—a particular vulgarity that she described as “extremely poetic”. Working in a range of media, she became an early experimenter in using neon in art to explore language, colour and light.
Yet while Chryssa achieved prominence in her lifetime, her pioneering career is little known today. That is changing with the first major survey of her work in the US since 1982, now on view at Dia Chelsea before travelling to the Menil Collection in Houston and Wrightwood 659 in Chicago. Titled Chryssa & New York, the exhibition brings together dozens of rarely seen neon sculptures (many restored for the occasion) with plaster, marble and cast-metal works, as well as works on canvas and paper that reveal her interest in the communicative possibilities of typographic forms.
“Chryssa was very much a part of that scene of artists in 1960s and 70s New York, but she had essentially been forgotten,” says Dia’s external curator Megan Holly Witko, who co-curated the exhibition with the Menil’s Michelle White. “This was something we really wanted to bring to New York because it was a hugely important place to Chryssa—a lot of her artistic career and community was here.”
Death Is Not the End
Rubin Museum of Art, until 15 January 2024
This show contrasts and parallels beliefs about and depictions of the afterlife in the religious traditions of both Tibetan Buddhism and Christianity. It features treasures from the Rubin’s collection and major loans from other institutions, including a cinematic, late 16th-century Boschian depiction of The Last Judgment from the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and a startling European painting of a half-living, half-skeletal female from the late 18th or early 19th century, on loan from London’s Wellcome Collection.
Works are installed in a progression that echoes conceptions of the afterlife, from the grim fear and certainty of death to the purgatorial uncertainty of limbo, and finally resurrection and transformation. Some works will be swapped out over the course of the show, which the museum’s curators decided to delay from its original September 2020 opening amid the worst of the pandemic. “We felt that we should explore the theme of the afterlife because it had new immediacy,” says Elena Pakhoutova, the show’s organiser.
Juan de Pareja: Afro-Hispanic Painter
Metropolitan Museum of Art, until 16 July
A piercing likeness of the man who was his slave for two decades was a way for Diego Velázquez to announce his artistry and arrival on the Roman art scene. Velázquez’s Portrait of Juan de Pareja (1650) led to illustrious commissions, including one from Pope Innocent X, and gained more renown when New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art acquired it in 1971 for a then record $5.5m.
The sitter, Juan de Pareja (around 1608-70), has never before been the subject of major study. This show tells the story of a man who began his own artistic career after Velázquez freed him (just months after painting his portrait).
“This exhibition reframes familiar works while bringing new ones into the canon, notably Pareja’s own paintings,” says David Pullins, the exhibition’s co-curator. Several pieces have been specially conserved, he adds, “to present Pareja in the best possible light as an artist in his own right rather than someone represented by Velázquez”.
Funk You Too! Humor and Irreverence in Ceramic Sculpture
Museum of Arts and Design, until 27 August
Ceramics may be a serious art form, but Funk You Too! is more concerned with highlighting pottery’s satirical side across more than 50 works. Pieces made during the Bay Area Funk ceramics boom of the 1960s are juxtaposed with contemporary sculptures that attest to the movement’s subversive legacy, updating the irreverence of their countercultural milieu for the modern day.
Organised by guest curator Angelik Vizcarrondo-Laboy, the exhibition applies a spirit of raunch and wit to an often overlooked period in the development of ceramics. Gore, anthropomorphised creatures and body parts abound throughout the exhibition; pieces are organised non-chronologically to draw parallels between eras and aesthetics. Featured artists range from founders of the movement such as Robert Arneson to emerging artists such as Alake Shilling and Diana Yesenia Alvarado.
Claude Gillot: Satire in the Age of Reason
Morgan Library & Museum, until 28 May
If the name of Claude Gillot (1673-1722) is now known at all, it is as the teacher of a much more famous artist, Antoine Watteau. Gillot’s reputation rests on pioneering genres that Watteau made his own. The only work of Gillot’s of any fame today is Les deux carrosses (1707), based on a theatre scene reportedly inspired by two carriages meeting head-on in a narrow Parisian street: two ladies in wheeled sedan chairs (rather than carriages) disputing for priority are played by the commedia dell’arte characters Harlequin and Scaramouche in drag. Its humour is typical of Gillot’s work, and it holds pride of place in this show. Apart from this painting and a few others, Gillot’s surviving work consists entirely of drawings and prints which have been painstakingly pieced together by Jennifer Tonkovich, curator of drawings and prints at the Morgan, to reconstruct Gillot’s career.
Lauren Halsey: The Roof Garden Commission
Metropolitan Museum of Art, until 27 October
For her long awaited commission on the Met’s rooftop, Lauren Halsey has created a spectacular Afrofuturist temple, which fuses elements of the Egyptian antiquities housed in the galleries below, science-fiction touchstones such as the P-Funk Mothership, and allusions to her community in South Central Los Angeles.
The work, the eastside of south central los angeles hieroglyph prototype architecture (I) (2023), takes the form of a temple guarded by four large sphinxes and four ornate columns whose elements are partly based on objects in the Met’s permanent collection. The central pavilion features elaborate hieroglyphic etchings that span graffiti and advertising imagery to pop culture imagery.
The fusion of ancient and modern forms and icons resonates with the grandiose rooftop setting. “On the one hand, it’s in conversation with Cleopatra’s Needle, the obelisk that’s just nearby in Central Park,” says Abraham Thomas, the Met’s curator of modern architecture, design and decorative arts, who co-curated the commission with Sheena Wagstaff. “But it’s also in conversation with the roof of the museum’s Robert Lehman Wing from 1975, which is an eight-sided glass pyramid.”
Affirmation Arts, 17-26 May
When the work of the late photographer Peter Beard comes up for auction, the most prized lots are large-format prints with vividly detailed borders painted by local artists at the Hog Ranch Art Department, part of a compound that Beard owned outside Nairobi. E. Mwangi Kuria (also known as Elizaphanson Mwangi Gibson), Nathaniel Kiboi (or Kivoi) and Solomon Misigo are three of eight former Hog Ranch artists who today make up the Pamoja art collective, and whose recent solo works take centre stage in the exhibition Kenyan Collectives at Affirmation Arts. The 25 or so paintings on show largely address the interaction between Kenya’s wildlife and human populations.
There are also around 15 photographs by members of Turkana Artists Xchange, a group of creatives based in Nairobi and the far north of Kenya, as well as collaborative works by both collectives, with Turkana photographs framed with distinctive borders painted by Pamoja artists.
Karl Lagerfeld: A Line of Beauty
Metropolitan Museum of Art, until 16 July
Karl Lagerfeld, the fashion designer, may have been his own greatest creation. Born in Hamburg in 1933, he made his way to Paris in the 1950s to embark on a career in high fashion that lasted until his death in 2019. A dyed-in-the-wool self-mythologiser and prevaricator who never managed to confirm key details about his German origins, or even the year he was born, he was the creative force and public face of four fashion houses, most notably Chanel. Just a few years after his death, the Costume Institute at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art is now covering every phase of that career.
Andrew Bolton, the curator and head of the Costume Institute, emphasises Lagerfeld’s “works rather than his words”. The show also elevates to the status of applied art Lagerfeld’s remarkable sketches, which were key in his working life—and, quite possibly, his inner life. Something between cryptic office memos meant for his indispensable head seamstresses, and apparent flights of fancy, these sketches are shown along with the clothes they fostered.
Lap-See Lam: Tales of the Altersea
Swiss Institute, until 27 August
For her first solo show in the United States, Lap-See Lam, a Stockholm-based artist, has created an immersive video installation that uses imagery drawn from her 3D scans of westernised Chinese restaurants. Lam, whose parents operated a Chinese restaurant in Stockholm, uses this visual lexicon both as an allegory for the immigrant experience and as a backdrop upon which she weaves a moving, magical realist narrative. The project began as Lam’s attempt to document her parents’ restaurant after they sold it.
Lam started 3D-scanning Western Chinese restaurants after the new owner of her parents’ place initially said she couldn’t scan it, and it grew into a larger project. “The Western Chinese restaurant is a magical realist place in a way,” says Lam. “I find them fascinating because they have this duality to them. They are like dream images of something perceived as Chinese, or a Chineseness, but at the same time it is a real functioning space which holds all of these often hidden histories of family, migration, belonging and dreams.”
Daniel Lind-Ramos: El Viejo Griot—Una historia de todos nosotros
MoMA PS1, until 4 September
Daniel Lind-Ramos, a sculptor and one of the breakout stars of the 2019 Whitney Biennial, assembles his distinctive and engrossing sculptures with materials salvaged from the streets and beaches near his home and studio in Loíza, Puerto Rico. “For me, objects are loaded with experiences, whether personal or collective, and I’m interested in exploring that weight, in visual terms, the weight of the object,” Lind-Ramos says in a video interview made for this major solo show at MoMA PS1. “Memory has to be preserved, and that can be manifested in the care of the object, an object that represents that memory.”
The monumental found object sculptures on view in El Viejo Griot—Una historia de todos nosotros (the elder storyteller—a story of all of us) are imbued specifically with memories of Hurricane Maria, which devastated Puerto Rico in 2017, killing more than 3,000 people and causing more than $90bn in damage. Incorporating tarpaulins, ropes, coconuts, parts of boats, musical instruments, palm fronds and much more in the piece, Lind-Ramos conjures figures and scenes that appear simultaneously ancient and futuristic, yet unmistakably current.
Jaune Quick-to-See Smith: Memory Map
Whitney Museum of American Art, until 13 August
The latest retrospective at the Whitney Museum of American Art features works evoking artists that the institution has championed for decades—Warholian Pop art, maps and flags à la Jasper Johns, and Rauschenberg-esque collages incorporating newspaper clippings and other printed imagery—all by Jaune Quick-to-See Smith, an artist and activist who is a citizen of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Nation. Her retrospective is the first by a Native American artist at the Whitney since it opened 92 years ago.
Curated by the Whitney’s Laura Phipps, Memory Map brings together more than 100 paintings, sculptures, prints and drawings made by the artist over nearly five decades. Appropriately, pride of place in the exhibition is given to Indian Map (1992), Smith’s first painting structured around the US map. “I began with the premise that the map didn’t belong to Jasper Johns, the map was an abstract image of stolen land in this country, so how could I turn the map into a new story,” Smith says. “I had a real struggle with that.”
Sarah Sze: Timelapse
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, until 10 September
The maxim that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts feels perfectly apt for the wild, entropic installations of the US artist Sarah Sze. The whole in question here elevates its requisite parts by finding magic in the mundane, taking everyday objects and weaving them into a commentary on the human need to make sense of a haywire world. Sze’s whirring ecologies are on view in her solo show Timelapse, which occupies both interior spaces and the façade of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York.
“Within the Guggenheim, every single decision is about every inch of that museum because every inch of that museum changes,” Sze says. “The floors are at different angles. In each bay, every single measurement is different. I was thinking of each bay as being a kind of image maker, and they each make images in different ways.”