Our editors and writers scour the city each week for the most thoughtful, relevant and exciting new exhibitions and artworks on view at galleries, museums and public venues across all five boroughs of New York. This week we recommend:
Grief and Grievance: Art and Mourning in America
Until 6 June at the New Museum, 235 Bowery, Manhattan
The late curator Okwui Enwezor, a chief advocate for Black artists throughout his prolific career, envisioned that this poignant exhibition responding to racial violence in the US would be timed to the 2020 presidential election to underscore the epidemic of white nationalism that was long brewing in America but heightened during the Donald Trump administration. Although the show was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic, the events that unfolded throughout the year give the exhibition even more urgency. Massimiliano Gioni, the New Museum’s artistic director, and Naomi Beckwith, the deputy director and chief curator of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York, as well as the artists Glenn Ligon and Mark Nash, curated the show in Enwezor’s vision, bringing together the work of nearly 40 artists, from Jean-Michel Basquiat to Kerry James Marshall, that deal with incarceration, police brutality, the normalisation of white supremacy and other issues. In his plan for the show, Enwezor wrote that there was a need to “assess the role that artists, through works of art, have played to illuminate the searing contours of the American body politic”.
Peter Joseph: The Border Paintings
Until 24 April at Lisson Gallery, 504 West 24th Street, Manhattan
The first posthumous exhibition devoted to the British artist Peter Joseph, who is best-known for creating harmonious two-colour paintings contrasting rectangles and squares, features a series of works from the 1980s and 1990s that create a sublime, meditative space in the gallery. Joseph died in November last year while preparing for the show, which was slated to include later works demonstrative of his departure from hard-edge abstraction; but this collection of signature works represent the breadth and legacy of his practice. The artist said the pieces were inspired by Classical music and architecture, Renaissance masterworks, and the psychologically impactful work of artists like Marth Rothko and Donald Judd. When asked to describe the painting No.55 Green with Dark Blue Surround (1981)—which is now held in the collection of the Tate in London—he wrote: “There is little space left in the industry of art for exhibiting for a dream or reverie. What you see in my work is perhaps a momentary attempt to establish this place.”
Mira Dayal: …In that Empire, the Art of Cartography attained such Perfection that the map of a single Province occupied the entirety of a City, and the map of the Empire, the entirety of a Province…
Until 4 April at Spencer Brownstone Gallery, 170-A Suffolk Street, Manhattan
Mira Dayal’s installation is named for Jorge Luis Borges’s short story On Exactitude in Science. The show’s title is, in fact, the entirety of the four sentence-long story, which tells the tale of a map sized at a one-to-one scale to the land it delineates, rendering it both incredibly accurate and entirely useless. Like the story, the show poses a number of poignant questions into not only the history of mapmaking and colonisation, but also the very concept of place and our relationship to it. The entire gallery floor has been rubbed by hand with a layer of graphite, laboriously creating a one-to-one topography of the space itself, which tells us both everything and nothing about it. Mounted above the floor are 12 fans that allude to the 12 winds—an ancient geographic system first laid out by Aristotle—and a real weathervane outside the gallery triggers individual fans on and off, based on the direction of the wind. That something so grand as wind can be replicated here at a human scale, with some hardwired metal fans and a weathervane, speaks to the comic implausibility of the world, our attempts to master it, and the endless reach of our desire as we pass through it.
- Click here to see our previous picks of shows to see in New York this month.