If it’s been a while since you’ve been to a museum and you’re starting to feel a cultural lack, you’re in luck. November 9th is “Go to an Art Museum Day,” and there are a plethora of great new exhibits all over the city. Let this day be your excuse to finally step back into the artistic landscape and wonder at the expressions you find therein. Here are just a few to get you started.
The Facade Commission, The Metropolitan Museum of Art Fifth Avenue
September 9th through January 12th
For the past 117 years, an architectural vision for the Met has gone unrealized. Until now. For the first time in the museum’s history, the four sculptural niches which adorn the building’s facade are graced with stunning works of art. The Met’s very first Facade Commission features the sculptures of Kenyan born Wangechi Mutu. The exhibit, called The NewOnes, will free Us, features four monumental sculptures of futuristic-African women in the reimagined motif of the caryatid, wherein the female figure serves as a means of either structural or metaphorical support. Mutu’s interpretation, however, liberates the caryatid from this secondary status. The sculptures each possess authority, autonomy, and resiliency; they challenge old ideas; they offer a critique of gender and racial politics. According to Max Hollein, Director of The Met, these four guardian gate-keepers “transform the facade of The Met with their compelling, powerful, and beautiful presence that commands immediate attention and reflection.”
The Met Fifth Avenue
October 29th through January 26th
From the majestic entrance flanked by Mutu’s stately guardians, enter the exhibit of Félix Vallotton: Painter of Disquiet inside The Met. Arriving in the late nineteenth century Paris scene, this young Swiss artist stood apart from his Post-Impressionist-inspired contemporaries. In his extraordinary body of work, he captures the frenetic life of the streets as well as shadowy interior scenes of private drama. His work is laced with unease, at the same time marked by subversive satire, wit, and wry humor. Described as “seedy and intense” and “Hitchcockian,” Vallotton is recognized as a distinctive artist of his time. Included in this exhibit is Picasso’s famed portrait of Gertrude Stein, alongside Vallotton’s rendition a year later.
718 Broadway New York, NY 10003
On view through January
Now for something non-traditional, modern, and socially relevant: Arcadia Earth, an interactive sojourn throughout the planet. In this multi-sensory exhibit, guests journey through all parts of the Earth and beyond, from underwater realms to fantasy lands. While traversing these landscapes, technology in the forms of augmented reality, virtual reality, projection mapping, and interactive environments are employed so that participants are immersed in the environments. But, the purpose of this exhibit isn’t just so that people have a cool experience. The subject matter of each room is an ecological issue threatening our planet and, ultimately, how small changes can positively impact the future of the earth in a big way.
On view until December 2nd
Commemorating a century of women’s suffrage, Gracie Mansion hosts an exhibit celebrating a century of women artists in New York. The exhibition displays 60 artworks, objects, and archival ephemera – from paintings to videos to textiles from 44 women artists, from museum regulars like Cindy Sherman and Lee Krasner to rising stars like Mickalene Thomas and Simone Leigh. The works are organized into four central themes: contending with history, body as battleground, picturing people, and expanding abstraction. Step into Gracie Mansion’s ballroom to the Guerrilla Girls sardonic 1988 poster, “The Advantages of Being a Woman Artist,” and then into the library, where two exquisite upholstered Florence Knoll chairs sit facing a four-minute video centered on a drag performer from the Stonewall riots, and you begin to understand where this exhibit twists and turns. In each of these deeply-felt women’s works, the hope is that, in the words of curator Jessica Bell Brown, a desire is sparked “to see the world more deeply, and perhaps even empathetically.”
Through December 8th
It’s been 50 years since the Stonewall Uprising, a six-day clash between civilians and police, ignited after a routine raid of a Greenwich Village gay bar. This famously served as the catalyst for a new generation of political activism within the LGBTQ community. At the Brooklyn Museum, 28 artists born after 1969 display through painting, sculpture, installation, performance, and video the influence of that singular event on the political and cultural landscape of today. With poignancy, passion, and even humor, these artists reflect on themes of revolt, commemoration, care, and desire.
Art can be addictive. So can coffee. To get your coffee fix after – or before – your art fix, check out these great coffeehouses in the city.