The 15 New York Shows You Need to See This April

Casey Lesser
Mar 30, 2017 9:20PM

This April, be sure to catch these 15 shows, which range from art-historical heavy-hitters, to overlooked women artists of the 20th century, to leading contemporary artists who will feature in the upcoming Venice Biennale.

Olafur Eliasson at Tanya Bonakdar Gallery

Mar. 23–Apr. 22 • 521 West 21st Street

Olafur Eliasson, Installation view of “The listening dimension,” Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York, March 23–April 22, 2017. Photo by Maris Hutchinson. Courtesy of the Artist and Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York.

In his first solo show in New York since 2012, the leading Danish-Icelandic artist presents a body of work that was born within the context of the 2016 U.S. presidential election, and is meant to incite self-awareness and reflection. True to form, light plays a significant role in these sculptural installations—like colored crystal balls that form a rainbow and an immersive mirrored environment—where viewers must move and change perspective in order to fully experience the art.

“Making Space: Women Artists and Postwar Abstraction” at MoMA

Apr. 15–Aug. 13 • 11 West 53 Street

Louise Bourgeois, The Quartered One, 1964-65. Courtesy of the Museum of Modern Art, New York.

Lynda Benglis, Embryo II, 1967. Courtesy of the Museum of Modern Art, New York.


Between the close of World War II and the start of the second wave of feminism in the late ’60s, male artists creating abstract art dominated the Western art world. Though women artists were there beside them, they were largely overlooked. This show spotlights this time period for female artists, focusing on over 100 paintings, sculptures, and photographs by some 50 women artists.

Erwin Wurm at Lehmann Maupin

Mar. 30–May 26 • 536 W 22nd Street

Erwin Wurm
Spaceship to venus, One Minute Sculpture, 2016
Lehmann Maupin
Erwin Wurm
Head TV, One Minute Sculpture, 2016
Lehmann Maupin

Ahead of his presentation at the Venice Biennale, Wurm presents work from his series of “One Minute Sculptures,” interactive works comprised of objects and instructions that are not complete until a viewer engages with them. One work asks the viewer to put their head in a hole in a cabinet, while another requires that they sit upside down on a chair.

“Calder / Miró: Constellations” at Pace Gallery and Acquavella Galleries

Alexander Calder at Pace Gallery, Apr. 20–Jun. 30 • 32 East 57th Street

Joan Miro at Acquavella Galleries, Apr. 20–May 26 • 18 East 79th Street

Alexander Calder, Constellation with Diabolo, 1943. Photo by Tom Powel Imaging, courtesy of Pace Gallery. © 2017 Calder Foundation, New York and Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

Joan Miró, L'oiseau-migrateur (The Migratory Bird), 1941. © 2016  Successió Miró / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris. Courtesy of Acquavella Galleries.

Featuring the respective series of “Constellations” sculptures by Alexander Calder and paintings by Joan Miro, the two galleries have mounted parallel shows to examine the artists’ contemporaneous, complimentary work. Although they were working on opposite sides of the Atlantic at the time, and were not in communication, Calder’s and Miro’s conceptual and visual impulses, when considered together, are strikingly harmonious.

“We Wanted a Revolution: Black Radical Women, 1965–85” at the Brooklyn Museum

Apr. 21–Sep. 17 • 200 Eastern Parkway, Brooklyn

Lorna Simpson, Rodeo Caldonia (Left to Right: Alva Rogers, Sandye Wilson, Candace Hamilton, Derin Young, Lisa Jones), 1986. Courtesy of Lorna Simpson. © 1986 Lorna Simpson. Courtesy of the Brooklyn Museum.

This unprecedented survey exhibition gives due recognition to the women artists and activists of color who were actively contributing to the second wave of feminism—a chapter of art history that has too often excluded non-white women artists. Spanning painting, sculpture, performance, and video, among other mediums, the works on view come from a multigenerational group of artists including Elizabeth Catlett, Faith Ringgold, Betye Saar, Ana Mendieta, Lorna Simpson, and Carrie Mae Weems, and many others.

Thiago Rocha Pitta at Marianne Boesky Gallery

Apr. 1–29 • 509 West 24th Street

Thiago Rocha Pitta
Before the Dawn, 2017
Marianne Boesky Gallery

Focusing on the natural world, the Brazilian artist creates works that visualize changes that occur with the passage of time, like erosion, rising sea levels, and the depletion of the ozone layer. In this show, Rocha Pitta debuts work from the past year, including over 20 fresco paintings, watercolors, and a video, as well as a site-specific installation made from concrete and a bed of moss.

Paul Chan at Greene Naftali

Mar. 3–Apr. 15 • 508 West 26th Street

Paul Chan, Pentasophia, 2016. Courtesy of Greene Naftali.

Working against the ubiquity of images that are consumed on screens, Chan’s newest works are sculptures he calls “breathers”—fabric bodies, attached to fans, that hover in the air. Chan employed principles of physics and specific pattern-making techniques to influence the way the works move.

Keltie Ferris at Mitchell-Innes & Nash

Mar. 29–May 6 • 1018 Madison Avenue

Keltie Ferris, to be titled, 2017. Courtesy of Mitchell-Innes & Nash.

Keltie Ferris, to be titled, 2017. Courtesy of Mitchell-Innes & Nash.

Ferris creates her “Body Prints”—which recall the works of David Hammons, Jasper Johns, and Yves Klein—by applying oil to her own body (clothed or nude) and pressing herself onto paper on the floor of her studio. A stark contrast to her well-known abstract, spray-painted works, these prints retain a sense of self-portraiture that transcends gender identity, presenting fluid, dynamic bodies that provoke questions of artmaking and representation.

Evan Holloway at Paula Cooper Gallery

Mar. 23–Apr. 22 • 534 West 21st Street

Evan Holloway, Two Ferns, 2017. Courtesy of Paula Cooper Gallery, New York.

The L.A.-based Holloway creates delightful sculptures of potted plants that sit beneath heat lamps, as well as elegant bronzes cast from twigs and branches and painted with vibrant enamel. While it may seem that he’s into the current, widespread obsession with houseplants, the artist engages with age-old art-historical conversations of craft, representation, and decoration.

Robert Therrien at Gagosian

Apr. 6–May 26 • 555 West 24th Street

Robert Therrien
No title (paneled room), 2017
Gagosian Gallery
Robert Therrien
No title (room, panic doors), 2013-2014
Gagosian Gallery

Known for brilliantly manipulating scale with his giant sculptures of furniture and household objects, Therrien presents a new show (his first in a decade in New York) featuring three free-standing rooms. These meticulously assembled installations—one is lined in dark wood panels with a tambourine on the floor, another is an empty hallway glowing with fluorescent light—are enigmatic and transportive. They beckon viewers to imagine their locations and inhabitants, like finely crafted movie sets awaiting the action.

Betty Tompkins at P.P.O.W

Mar. 30–May 6 • 535 West 22nd Street

Betty Tompkins, Pussy Painting #26, 2016. Courtesy of P.P.O.W.

Betty Tompkins
Dick Grid Painting #2, 2016

In the past few years Tompkins has been recognized for her spirited “Fuck Paintings”—large canvases consumed by closely cropped images taken from pornography—and “WOMEN Words,” small text paintings made up of words and phrases used to describe women. For her first solo show with P.P.O.W, Tompkins presents works from both series as well as new “Pussy Paintings,” which celebrate the power and beauty of the female body, portraying female subjects in dominant roles.

“The Jazz Age: American Style in the 1920s” at the Cooper Hewitt

Apr. 7–Aug. 20 • 2 East 91st Street

Paul Fehér, Muse with Violin Screen (detail), 1930. Courtesy of The Cleveland Museum of Art. © Rose Iron Works Collections, LLC. Courtesy of Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum.

Mariano Fortuny, Delphos dress and jacket with box, 1939. Photo by Matt Flynn. © Smithsonian Institution. Courtesy of Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum.

The beloved style and culture of the Jazz Age in 1920s America is given its first major museum exhibition this month. The show spans Gatsby-esque attire and glittering Cartier gems, as well as the textiles, painting, ironwork, and furniture that have become synonymous with this chapter of U.S. history.

Anicka Yi at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum

Apr. 21–Jul. 5 • 1071 Fifth Avenue

Installation view of “Anicka Yi: Jungle Stripe,” Fridericianum, Kasse, 2016. Image courtesy of the artist, 47 Canal, New York, and Fridericianum, Kassel. Photo: Fabian Frinzel. Courtesy of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum.

Known for swabbing spit from art-world women and growing bacteria at a MIT lab, Yi is lauded for her works that tap into the intersections of biology, psychology, social issues, and sensory perception. As winner of the 2016 Hugo Boss Prize, Yi presents a solo exhibition of new sculptures and installations at the Guggenheim. Like her previous work, she’s created sensory experiences that make viewers think twice about how the digital and physical world color the way we understand living things.

Vija Celmins at Matthew Marks

Feb. 10–Apr. 15 • 522 W 22 Street

Vija Celmins, Blackboard Tableau #10. Courtesy of Matthew Marks.

Vija Celmins, Untitled (Ochre). Courtesy of Matthew Marks.

Known for deft drawings and paintings that picture textures of the cosmos and the natural world, Celmins has been creating work in this vein, working from black-and-white photographs, since the ’60s. This exhibition—her first solo presentation in New York in seven years—is focused on her works portraying oceans and starry skies, including 19 new works spanning painting, drawing, prints, and sculpture.

Ian Cheng at MoMA PS1

Apr. 9–Sep. 25 • 22-25 Jackson Avenue, Queens

Ian Cheng, Emissary Forks At Perfection, 2015-2016. Courtesy of MoMA PS1.

Cheng’s first U.S. solo museum show features his complete Emissary trilogy (2015–17) series, which sees three “live simulation” works—a term he coined for “a video game that plays itself.” The Emissary works, which were recently acquired by MoMA, consider the evolution of cognition through self-driven animations featuring human and animal characters.

Casey Lesser
Casey Lesser is Artsy’s Director of Content.