Art
The 15 New York Shows You Need to See This September
By Casey Lesser and Scott Indrisek
Aug 30, 2017 2:08 pm

While summer brought some admirable discoveries among the crop of group shows, September spells the beginning of the fall’s strong solo season. Here, we spotlight 15 of the exhibitions that we’re most excited about, from Kara Walker’s mixed-media paintings to Trevor Paglen’s adventures in artificial-intelligence.


Kara Walker at Sikkema Jenkins & Co.

Sep. 7–Oct. 14 • 530 West 22nd Street

Opening: Sep. 7, 6–8 p.m.

Walker has long been known to deftly unravel narratives around gender, race, and sexuality through a fresh, critical lens, be it through her provocative, cut-paper silhouettes, or monumental sculpture (like a 2014 sculpture of a sphinx that alluded to the exploitative history of the sugar trade). This show at Sikkema Jenkins features new paintings, utilizing sumi ink, oil stick, and collage elements, that were made by the artist over the course of this summer. Following the tragic violence at a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, Walker released a must-read artist’s statement to accompany the show’s press release, reflecting on the racism that is still endemic to the United States. —Casey Lesser


Sojourner Truth Parsons at Downs & Ross

Sep. 17–Oct. 22 • 96 Bowery, 2nd floor

Opening: Sep. 17, 6–8 p.m.

Sojourner Truth Parsons, Mother of Citrus, 2017. Courtesy of Downs & Ross.

Sojourner Truth Parsons, Mother of Citrus, 2017. Courtesy of Downs & Ross.

Sojourner Truth Parsons, Slow runner with the fireflies, 2017. Courtesy of Downs & Ross.

Sojourner Truth Parsons, Slow runner with the fireflies, 2017. Courtesy of Downs & Ross.

Taking its title from the 1970 song “Dolphin” by folk singer Linda Perhacs, the Los Angeles-based artist’s new show at Downs & Ross, “Dolphin, take me with you,” reflects on escapist, paradisiacal visions of California. In lush new paintings that are meant to evoke the aesthetics of a garden, Parsons presents dancing black silhouettes, butterflies, and flowers, inspired by her own mixed-race identity as a Black-Mi’kmaq-Caucasian Canadian—and reacting against the staid motifs of male-dominated modernist art. —CL


Polly Apfelbaum at Alexander Gray Associates

Sep. 7–Oct. 21 • 510 West 26th Street

Opening: Sep. 7, 6–8 p.m.

Polly Apfelbaum, The Potential of Women, 2017. Courtesy Alexander Gray Associates, New York © 2017 Polly Apfelbaum/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

Polly Apfelbaum, The Potential of Women, 2017. Courtesy Alexander Gray Associates, New York © 2017 Polly Apfelbaum/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

Apfelbaum’s new show, “The Potential of Women,” was fueled in part by the messaging found in a 1963 book of the same name, which swiftly disparaged women’s contributions to society. The artist presents a group of works that, in stark contrast, exults a feminist, inclusive ideology. The show includes gouaches that riff on the book’s original cover design—a graphic of a streamlined female figure—and a spirited, immersive environment of rugs, painted walls, and ceramic sculptures. —CL


Jordan Casteel at Casey Kaplan

Sep. 7–Oct. 28 • 121 West 27th Street

Opening: Sep. 7, 6–8 p.m.

Jordan Casteel, A-Thug and Louie, 2017. Courtesy of Casey Kaplan, New York.

Jordan Casteel, A-Thug and Louie, 2017. Courtesy of Casey Kaplan, New York.

Esteemed for the engrossing portraits that came out of her 2015 residency at The Studio Museum in Harlem, Casteel creates honest, intimate paintings of members of her community, from family members to men she’s met along 125th Street. The new, large-scale portraits in “Nights in Harlem” at Casey Kaplan advance Casteel’s depictions of black men, the works now based on photographs she’s taken of strangers in the neighborhood. Painting her subjects in cool blues, backlit by the warm glow of streetlights, Casteel conveys individuals’ personal stories, while subtly tackling broader sociopolitical concerns. —CL


Ruth Asawa at David Zwirner

Sep. 13–Oct. 21 • 537 West 20th Street

Opening: Sep. 13, 6–8 p.m.

Ruth Asawa in her studio in 1957. Photo by Imogen Cunningham. © 2017 Imogen Cunningham Trust. Courtesy David Zwirner, New York/London.

Ruth Asawa in her studio in 1957. Photo by Imogen Cunningham. © 2017 Imogen Cunningham Trust. Courtesy David Zwirner, New York/London.

Asawa is rightfully famed for her graceful looped-wire sculptures—voluminous, vertical forms made painstakingly by hand, and meant to hang from the ceiling. The late artist began making sculptural work while imprisoned with her family in a Japanese-American internment camp in the early 1940s. From there, she went on to study at the legendary Black Mountain College under Josef Albers and R. Buckminster Fuller. This show—the first at David Zwirner since the gallery began representing her estate in January—includes those familiar signature works as well as paintings, works on paper, and rare photographs of Asawa taken by Imogen Cunningham. —CL


Alex Bradley Cohen at Nicelle Beauchene Gallery

Sep. 7–Oct. 8 • 327 Broome Street

Opening: Sep. 7, 6–8 p.m.

Alex Bradley Cohen, Paul Anthony Smith, 2017. Courtesy of Nicelle Beauchene Gallery.

Alex Bradley Cohen, Paul Anthony Smith, 2017. Courtesy of Nicelle Beauchene Gallery.

Alex Bradley Cohen, Liz Harney, 2017. Courtesy of Nicelle Beauchene Gallery.

Alex Bradley Cohen, Liz Harney, 2017. Courtesy of Nicelle Beauchene Gallery.

Following his inclusion in the gallery’s summer show (the excellently named “Elaine, Let’s Get The Hell Out of Here”), this young Chicago painter gets his first solo show with Nicelle Beauchene. Cohen’s figurative portraits, often titled with the first and last name of their real-life subjects, play with shadow, angle, and color, squeezing excitement out of the commonplace: a man eating a sandwich, or a woman curled anxiously in a chair next to a potted plant. Cartoonish yet emotive human faces share the compositional space with pure pattern—a certain quality of light, or the shaggy texture of grass.  —Scott Indrisek


Stanley Whitney at Lisson Gallery

Sep. 8–Oct. 21 • 138 Tenth Avenue

Opening: Sep. 7, 6–8 p.m.

Stanley Whitney, Untitled, 1990. © Stanley Whitney. Courtesy of Lisson Gallery.

Stanley Whitney, Untitled, 1990. © Stanley Whitney. Courtesy of Lisson Gallery.

Whitney’s recent, late-career ascendence has been a joy to behold. In 2015, he had a huge survey at the Studio Museum of Harlem, and a drawing-heavy solo at Karma in New York. Now, in his early 70s, he’s moved on from his former gallery (Team), and showcases a series of works on paper at the Tenth Avenue space of this powerhouse dealer. Many of the artist’s paintings are ordered (albeit pleasantly wobbly) grids of pure color. His drawings have a similar energy, and provide a sort of behind-the-scenes look at how Whitney conceives his larger compositions. “Much of this work has never been seen publicly,” says the Lisson’s international director, Alex Logsdail, “and it really demonstrates the breadth of Stanley’s practice, working in a variety of mediums—graphite, colored pencil, or marker.” The gallery is also publishing a facsimile copy of one of Whitney’s sketchbooks, which illustrates the process behind his drawings and paintings.  —SI


Louise Bourgeois at the Museum of Modern Art

Sep. 24–Jan. 28 • 11 West 53rd Street

Louise Bourgeois,  Spider, 1997. Collection The Easton Foundation. © 2017 The Easton Foundation/Licensed by VAGA, NY. Courtesy of the Museum of Modern Art.

Louise Bourgeois,  Spider, 1997. Collection The Easton Foundation. © 2017 The Easton Foundation/Licensed by VAGA, NY. Courtesy of the Museum of Modern Art.

Louise Bourgeois, Spiral Woman, 2003. Courtesy of the Museum of Modern Art, New York. Gift of the artist. © 2017 The Easton Foundation/Licensed by VAGA, NY.

Louise Bourgeois, Spiral Woman, 2003. Courtesy of the Museum of Modern Art, New York. Gift of the artist. © 2017 The Easton Foundation/Licensed by VAGA, NY.

Bourgeois was known for her fluency in a wide range of mediums, from watercolor paintings to massive sculptures, and she treated them all with an equal measure of dedication. This MoMA show, “Louise Bourgeois: An Unfolding Portrait,” focuses on a career-spanning selection of the late French-American artist’s prints and illustrated books, which are contextualized by choice paintings and sculptures. Ranging from the 1940s to 2010 (the year of her death), these works serves as a means through which to understand the arc of the artist’s creative process. —CL


Proof: Francisco Goya, Sergei Eisenstein, Robert Longo at Brooklyn Museum

Sep. 8–Jan. 7, 2018 • 200 Eastern Parkway, Brooklyn

Sergei Eisenstein, Still from Battleship Potemkin, 1925. Gosfilmofond (National Film Foundation of Russian Federation). Courtesy of Brooklyn Museum.

Sergei Eisenstein, Still from Battleship Potemkin, 1925. Gosfilmofond (National Film Foundation of Russian Federation). Courtesy of Brooklyn Museum.

Traveling to the States following its debut at the Garage Museum of Contemporary Art in Moscow, this show at the Brooklyn Museum presents an intriguing, cross-century, international trinity: Francisco Goya, Sergei Eisenstein, and Robert Longo. Prints from Goya’s “Los Caprichos” (1797–98) series are joined by slo-mo presentations of Eisenstein films and large-scale Longo drawings.

Scratching your head as to why, exactly? The show aims to explore “the singularity of vision through which artists can reflect the social, cultural and political complexities of their times,” says Kate Fowle, the exhibition’s curator. “Spanning eras and continents, each artist witnessed the turbulent transition from one century to another, experiencing the seismic impacts of revolution, civil rights movements, and war. While Goya served church and king, Eisenstein the state, and Longo emerged during the rise of the contemporary art market—the dominant benefactors of each period—they all rose to prominence through developing nuanced practices that challenged expectations and demand.”  —SI


Sally Saul at Rachel Uffner Gallery

Sep. 10–Oct. 29 • 170 Suffolk Street

Opening: Sep. 10, 6–8 p.m.

Sally Saul, Taking it All In, 2017. Courtesy of Rachel Uffner Gallery.

Sally Saul, Taking it All In, 2017. Courtesy of Rachel Uffner Gallery.

Sally Saul, UFO, 2017. Courtesy of Rachel Uffner Gallery.

Sally Saul, UFO, 2017. Courtesy of Rachel Uffner Gallery.

Saul’s sculptures—lovingly handmade, often touchingly sentimental, and always just a little bit off—have been popping up everywhere recently. Whether she’s crafting eccentric self-portraits or adorably wonky animals, the artist is bent on creating a self-contained and strange universe. (She also clearly shares a wonderfully bent sense of humor with her husband, the painter Peter Saul.) This exhibition, “Knit of Identity,” somewhat shockingly marks her first solo outing in New York City. Stand-out works include Together, a ceramic sculpture of two shell-shocked polar bears holding hands.  —SI


Devin Troy Strother at Marlborough Contemporary

Sep. 7–Oct. 7 • 545 West 25th Street

Opening: Sep. 7, 6–8 p.m.

Devin Troy Strother, "can we swop races just for one day?" (prefablly today, tomorrow i'm booked), 2017. Courtesy of the artist and Marlborough Contemporary, New York.

Devin Troy Strother, "can we swop races just for one day?" (prefablly today, tomorrow i'm booked), 2017. Courtesy of the artist and Marlborough Contemporary, New York.

With racism in the U.S. on the front-page of almost every major newspaper these past few months, it should be interesting to see what kind of art-world discomfort Strother’s latest solo can cause. The young African-American artist has made a career of impolite, unabashed irreverence, intermingling references in mixed-media paintings and sculptures. This show promises a work that draws a line between Dave Chapelle and Lynda Benglis, not to mention one composed of many, many multi-colored cocaine baggies (filled with pigment, not drugs).  —SI


Trevor Paglen at Metro Pictures

Sep. 8–Oct. 21 • 519 West 24th Street

Opening: Sep. 8, 6–8 p.m.

Trevor Paglen, A Man (Corpus: The Humans) Adversarially Evolved Hallucination, 2017. Courtesy of Trevor Paglen.

Trevor Paglen, A Man (Corpus: The Humans) Adversarially Evolved Hallucination, 2017. Courtesy of Trevor Paglen.

Trevor Paglen, Vampire (Corpus: Monsters of Capitalism) Adversarially Evolved Hallucination, 2017. Courtesy of Trevor Paglen.

Trevor Paglen, Vampire (Corpus: Monsters of Capitalism) Adversarially Evolved Hallucination, 2017. Courtesy of Trevor Paglen.

The artist has always dreamed big—his latest proposed project involves launching a sculpture into orbit as a free-floating satellite. His research-intensive work has explored issues of surveillance and the physical infrastructure of the Internet, as well as topical privacy issues (Paglen was also a cinematographer for Citizenfour, Laura Poitras’s 2014 documentary on Edward Snowden).

For this latest solo exhibition, he continues to ride on the bleeding-edge of technology, presenting the visual remnants of experiments with artificial intelligence, facial recognition, and more. The results promise to be as fascinating as they are unnerving, especially for anyone anxious about the world’s impending robot takeover. “Machines have learned to see, and their forms of seeing are becoming dominant,” Paglen tells me. “As an artist I want to understand the formal operations of machine-seeing and the social and political factors that always play a strong role in defining what images mean. I want to know: How do machines see, and what sorts of power flow through their electronic eyes?” —SI


Petra Cortright at Foxy Production

Sep. 8–Oct. 8 • 2 East Broadway, 200

Opening: Sep. 8, 6–8 p.m.

Petra Cortright, AziLabs b Barclay b c license plate azwan, 2017. © Petra Cortright, courtesy Foxy Production, New York.

Petra Cortright, AziLabs b Barclay b c license plate azwan, 2017. © Petra Cortright, courtesy Foxy Production, New York.

Cortright playfully plumbs the internet for her source material, creating videos filled with mind-bending visual effects and dancing avatars, painterly canvases made from digital tools, and sculptures that add visual weight to online tropes. In this show at Foxy Production, “human sheep brain ‘alice in wonderland’ Americana,” she debuts a new series of digital paintings that take cues from Action Painting—the term used to describe the highly physical processes of modern painters like Jackson Pollock and Kazuo Shiraga. The works originate as Photoshop compositions that combine the software’s paintings tools with uploaded image files; the artist then has the resulting pictures printed onto sheets of linen or aluminum.—CL


Eliza Douglas & Anne Imhof at Galerie Buchholz

Sep. 9–Oct. 21 • 17 East 82nd Street

Opening: Sep. 9, 6–8 p.m.

Eliza Douglas, Anne Imhof, Untitled, 2017. Courtesy Eliza Douglas, Anne Imhof and Galerie Buchholz, Berlin/Cologne/New York.

Eliza Douglas, Anne Imhof, Untitled, 2017. Courtesy Eliza Douglas, Anne Imhof and Galerie Buchholz, Berlin/Cologne/New York.

Eliza Douglas, Anne Imhof, Untitled, 2017. Courtesy Eliza Douglas, Anne Imhof and Galerie Buchholz, Berlin/Cologne/New York.

Eliza Douglas, Anne Imhof, Untitled, 2017. Courtesy Eliza Douglas, Anne Imhof and Galerie Buchholz, Berlin/Cologne/New York.

At the Venice Biennale this year, visitors flocked to the German Pavilion to experience the unsettling-yet-seductive Faust, a performance staged by Imhof, for which she won the Golden Lion for best national participation. This fall, Imhof and her frequent performance partner, Douglas (who also worked on Faust) debut new paintings, including their first collaborative series. —CL


Amanda Ross-Ho at Mitchell-Innes & Nash

Sep. 7–Oct. 14 • 534 West 26th Street

Opening: Sep. 7, 6–8 p.m.

Amanda Ross-Ho at Mitchell-Innes & Nash, NY, 2017. © Amanda Ross-Ho. Courtesy of the artist and Mitchell-Innes & Nash, NY.

Amanda Ross-Ho at Mitchell-Innes & Nash, NY, 2017. © Amanda Ross-Ho. Courtesy of the artist and Mitchell-Innes & Nash, NY.

Los Angeles-based artist Ross-Ho has been camped out in the gallery for the month of August, working on the new series that will be unveiled here: paintings riffing on the motif of a clock. Having long been “interested in using time as a material,” Ross-Ho tells me, she started scouting for clock-related equipment and ephemera on eBay, including a large array of clock faces printed on paper.

“I decided to use these surfaces as a place to record the relentless conscious, and subconscious, mark-making and stenography that takes place within my immediate and intimate personal tabletop spaces.” While working within her impromptu gallery-studio, Ross-Ho says she is “forensically translating” some of these studies into a dozen large-scale paintings. Of course, by imposing a strict deadline on her production, she’s also beating the clock in other ways. —SI


—Casey Lesser and Scott Indrisek