20 New York Shows to See over the Holidays

Casey Lesser
Dec 16, 2016 5:02PM

The holiday season does not have a stellar reputation for being an optimal time to see some art. But, as winter descends upon New York, this year is different. Venture out in the chilly city to catch up on these major museum shows, or take in an array of fresh gallery exhibitions featuring masters from the art-historical canon, contemporary artists diving into the post-election milieu, and a few artists who happily provide an escape.

Kerry James Marshall at the Met Breuer

Oct. 25–Jan. 29; 945 Madison Avenue

A child of the civil rights movement, Marshall has throughout his career challenged the white-dominated art-historical canon. His work usually portrays black protagonists in engrossing narrative paintings packed with searing critiques or joyous celebrations. “Mastry,” Marshall’s largest museum show, spans nearly 80 works drawn from his formidable 35-year career.

Anthony Caro at Mitchell-Innes & Nash

Dec. 8–Feb. 4; 534 W 26th Street & 1018 Madison Avenue

Terminus, 2013
Mitchell-Innes & Nash
Figure, 1955
Mitchell-Innes & Nash

For the first U.S. exhibitions of Caro’s work since his death in 2013, the gallery mounts two concurrent shows, at its Chelsea and Upper East Side locations, featuring works that bookend the great sculptor’s innovative, 60-year career. The shows focus on early drawings and paintings—including some never before seen in the U.S.—as well as sculptures from his final years, such as the Chelsea show’s six large steel and plexiglass sculptures created not long before the artist’s death.

Francis Picabia at the Museum of Modern Art

Nov. 21–March 19; 11 W 53rd Street

Installation view of “Francis Picabia: Our Heads Are Round so Our Thoughts Can Change Direction.” Photo courtesy of MoMA.

The first U.S. exhibition to offer a comprehensive view of Picabia’s career, “Our Heads Are Round so Our Thoughts Can Change Direction” showcases the Modernist’s multifarious practice. The show exemplifies how the artist eluded categorization as he mastered various approaches to painting, drawing, performance, and filmmaking.

Pipilotti Rist at the New Museum

Oct. 26–Jan. 15; 235 Bowery

In Rist’s largest New York show yet, the Swiss video art powerhouse presents signature sensual and mesmerizing works, projected across the museum’s three main floors, bathing them in shifting, psychedelic visions. Viewers are ushered through rooms draped with colored lights and welcomed to lounge beneath technicolored video projections that home in on the familiar yet fantastical surfaces and textures of the natural world and human life.

“Crochet Coral Reef: Toxic Seas” at Museum of Arts and Design

Sep. 15–Jan. 22; 2 Columbus Circle

Installation view of “Crochet Coral Reef: TOXIC SEAS,” 2016. Photo by Jenna Bascom, courtesy of the Museum of Arts and Design.

With their L.A.-based Institute for Figuring, artist sisters Christine and Margaret Wertheim first began their ongoing “Crochet Coral Reef” around 10 years ago. The textile sculptures resemble vibrant coral plants woven from yarn and plastic refuse. Their project brings stunning awareness to the worsening dangers that climate change and plastic waste pose to the natural world, now more than ever.

Curtis Talwst Santiago at Rachel Uffner Gallery

Nov. 13–Jan. 8;170 Suffolk Street

Installation view of Curtis Talwst Santiago’s “Drawings and Miniatures,” courtesy of Rachel Uffner Gallery.

Santiago creates miniature installations of people in tiny, dioramic scenes that fit inside ring boxes—but don’t be fooled by their size. Through these works, he challenges dominant historical narratives and confronts major issues such as the refugee crisis and police brutality, all while granting the viewer an unusual perspective on serious, salient topics.

Genieve Figgis at Gallery Met

Dec. 8–Jan. 21; Metropolitan Opera, Lincoln Center

Left: Genieve Figgis, Lady Montague, 2016. Right: Genieve Figgis, A Quick Squeeze Under the Arch, 2016. Images courtesy of Half Gallery.

To coincide with its performances of French composer Charles Gounod’s version of Romeo and Juliet, the Metropolitan Opera’s gallery space shows new paintings responding to the Shakespearean classic. Figgis, an Irish painter known for her lush, melty brushstrokes that often picture historic figures of high stature, infuses her paintings with the play’s darkness, as she presents some 30 oil paintings depicting iconic scenes, like Juliet’s leaning over her balcony and Romeo’s fateful taste of poison.

“The Window and the Breaking of the Window” at the Studio Museum in Harlem

Nov. 17–Mar. 5; 144 West 125th Street

Showcasing expressions of protest, this timely exhibit takes its name from a drawing by Pope.L that reads: “Black People Are the Window and the Breaking of the Window.” With works ranging from drawing to photography to painting, the show includes several generations of artists, including Chris Ofili, Kerry James Marshall, and EJ Hill, among others.

Mierle Laderman Ukeles at Queens Museum

Sep. 18, 2016–Feb. 19, 2017, Flushing Meadows Corona Park, New York City Building, Queens

The New York Department of Sanitation’s first and only artist in residence, since 1978, Ukeles has forged an atypical career of socially engaged performances and installations. Organized chronologically, this show charts her fascinating career, including documentation from a 1979–80 performance that saw her shake hands with every sanitation worker, and a monumental arch made from objects culled from service and infrastructure agencies such as the postal service and the parks department.

Agnes Martin at the Guggenheim

Oct. 7–Jan. 11; 1071 5th Avenue

Installation view of  Agnes Martin at Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, 2016. Photo: David Heald. Courtesy of Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum.

Martin’s belief in the transformative power of art—that it might convey a range of emotions through subtle elements such as simple lines, muted colors, and measured proportions—is on full display in this impressive retrospective, now in New York after showing at the Tate Modern, LACMA, and Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen. Her spare canvases rein in Frank Lloyd Wright’s off-kilter architecture, conjuring a soothing sense of balance within the Guggenheim’s whirl of white walls.

“Dreamlands: Immersive Cinema and Art, 1905–2016,” at the Whitney Museum of American Art

Oct 28–Feb 5; 99 Gansevoort Street

Tapping into immersive film and video art, “Dreamlands” delves into the way advances in cinema have inspired artists from the early 20th century to the present. Works included range from Hito Steyerl’s Factory of the Sun (2015), which debuted at the 56th Venice Biennale, to footage of Oskar Schlemmer’s Triadic Ballet performance from 1970.

Benny Andrews at Michael Rosenfeld Gallery

Nov. 8–Jan. 21; 100 Eleventh Avenue

Installation view of “Benny Andrews: The Bicentennial Series,” courtesy of Michael Rosenfeld Gallery.

This show of the late artist’s drawings and paintings displays his “Bicentennial Series” (1970–75), which consists of six parts: Symbols, Trash, Circle, Sexism, War, and Utopia. Andrews originally created the series ahead of the United States’s 200th birthday, in 1976, in order to portray the country through his point of view as a black American.

“Native American Masterpieces from the Charles and Valerie Diker Collection” at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Oct. 28–March 19; 1000 Fifth Avenue

Man’s Shirt, Unrecorded Niimiipu (Nez Perce) Artist, ca. 1850. Photo by Dirk Bakker, courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Drawing from one of the world’s most comprehensive collections of Native American art, this exhibition presents work made by indigenous artists across North America from the second to the 20th century. Pieces include everything from finely beaded clothing to intricate pencil drawings, demonstrating exceptional artistry and a vast variety of aesthetics and traditions.

Andrew Kuo at Marlborough Chelsea

Dec. 8–Jan. 14; 545 West 25th Street

Installation view of Andrew Kuo at Marlborough Chelsea. Images courtesy of the gallery.

In “No to Self,” Kuo presents a fresh set of his data-driven paintings—large canvases filled with cascades of shape and color, at times resembling the animations that result from winning a round of Microsoft solitaire. Kuo’s work is often dictated by everyday information; this time, he focuses on coping methods and behaviors, like psychotherapy and daily routines.

Duane Linklater at 80WSE Gallery

Dec. 8–Feb. 18; 80 Washington Square East

Installation view of Duane Linklater’s work, courtesy of the artist and 80WSE. Photo by Jeffery Sturges.

Known for bringing awareness to indigenous artmaking in Canada, Linklater, who is from Moose Cree First Nation in Northern Ontario, shows new large-scale sculptures made from construction materials as well as a sprawling architectural installation that replaces the gallery walls. The exhibition, mounted in collaboration with Toronto artist-run nonprofit Mercer Union, also includes works made by Linklater’s late grandmother Ethel—including rabbit-fur mittens, slippers, and mukluks—and his 12-year-old son, Tobias. Through the show, titled “From Our Hands,” Linklater raises issues of family legacy, the preservation of cultural heritage, and inclusivity in art spaces.

“Porcelain, No Simple Matter: Arlene Shechet and the Arnhold Collection” at The Frick Collection

May 24–Apr. 2;1 East 70th Street 

Installation view of “Porcelain, No Simple Matter: Arlene Shechet and the Arnhold Collection.” Photo by Michael Bodycomb, courtesy of The Frick Collection.

Plumbing the Frick’s collection of historic Meissen porcelain vessels and dishes, Shechet developed a presentation that intermingles her own works created during her residency at that famed porcelain factory. The interplay of traditional, centuries-old forms and Shechet’s contemporary, irreverent interpretations makes her porcelain creations even more amusing.

Samuel Levi Jones at Galerie Lelong

Dec 8–Jan 28; 528 West 26th Street

Installation view of “Burning all illusion,” courtesy of Galerie Lelong.

Driven by injustice in the U.S., particularly surrounding recent violence against black men and women, Jones’s new show, “Burning all illusion,” features bold works made from books, primarily encyclopedias and law tomes, which the artist has methodically dissected. Their parts—spines, fabric covers, cardboard insides—he sews together in gridded monochromes or multicolored patchworks he affixes to canvas. Titles and authors are strategically scratched out, leaving behind words and phrases that speak to the artist’s timely concerns.

“Klimt and the Women of Vienna’s Golden Age, 1900–1918” at Neue Galerie

Sep. 22–Jan. 16; 1048 Fifth Avenue

Installation view of “Klit and the Women of Vienna’s Golden Age, 1900-1918,” courtesy of Neue Galerie.

Klimt’s approach to portraying women is on full view in this show of paintings, drawings, decorative art, and photographs of the artist. Highlights include some of his most acclaimed society portraits—including paintings of Szerena Lederer, Mäda Primavesi, and Adele Bloch-Bauer—which reveal his changing style over the course of two decades.

Anna Glantz at 11R

Dec. 8–Jan. 15; 195 Chrystie Street

Left: Anna Glantz, Britney’s Season, 2016. Right: Anna Glantz, Polar Bath, 2016. Images courtesy of 11R.

Young Queens-based Glantz has been making a name for herself with thoughtful figurative paintings. For this show, titled “Stones for Sandman” after the German short story by E.T.A. Hoffmann, Glantz painted dark, enigmatic scenes filled with stone walls that give way to surrealistic scenarios, such as a man grasping onto a cornucopia above a sinkhole or a cartoon-like girl holding a trumpet over her shoulder as she descends into a room while pumpkins fall from the sky.

Beverly Buchanan at the Brooklyn Museum

Oct. 21–March 5; 200 Eastern Parkway, Brooklyn

Installation view of “Beverly Buchanan—Ruins and Rituals,” courtesy of the Brooklyn Museum.

The museum recently kicked off its yearlong female-focused programming, “A Year of Yes: Reimagining Feminism at the Brooklyn Museum,” with the largest show yet of late American artist Buchanan. During her long-overlooked, singular career, she addressed issues of gender and race through sculpture, painting, photography, and drawing. While at the museum, be sure to check out the Marilyn Minter show as well as “A Woman’s Afterlife: Gender Transformation in Ancient Egypt.”

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