5 Standout New York Exhibitions to See This March
Here, we share a roundup of notable shows to see in New York this March, chosen by Artsy Editors.
Derrick Adams at Luxembourg & Dayan
Through April 20th
64 East 77th Street
Derrick Adams has wallpapered Luxembourg & Dayan’s pristine Upper East Side townhouse with brilliant hues and mismatched styles. They serve as backdrops for his signature mixed-media collages on paper: vibrant, patterned side profiles of African-American figures that Adams observes from his Brooklyn studio’s stoop. The characters on view at Luxembourg & Dayan are a riot of patterns and geometric shapes: They wear floral tops, stripes, and a red-and-white polka-dot blouse. At the opening earlier this week, Adams mentioned that these will be his last works in the series. “What better way to do them,” he asked his audience, “but do it out?”
And do it out he’s done. On the entry level, the wallpapering suggests a fireplace with two statuettes on top: one resembling a black power fist, the other conveying hands pressed in prayer. On another level, you’ll find a faux kitchen, decked out with real recipes taped to the fake wooden cabinets: Patti LaBelle’s Sweet Potato Pie, Bobby Seale’s Spicy Chicken Barbecue, and more. The exhibition interrogates sartorial, culinary, and architectural influences on design and style. In all, it’s a colorful journey into an imaginary domestic realm. (Adams’s work is also on view at Mary Boone Gallery, 745 Fifth Avenue, March 7th–April 27th.)
Charlotte Posenenske at Dia Beacon
March 8th–September 9th
3 Beekman Street, Beacon, New York
In contrast to much Minimalist sculpture—which, if rigorous, can feel austere and humorless—Charlotte Posenenske’s galvanized steel structures are almost comical. Installed in the solemn, light-filled galleries of Dia Beacon, they look like misshapen air ducts plunked on the wood-slatted floor. Full of slants, bends, and obvious seams, they offer character-filled alternatives to the pristine, simple constructions of the Donald Judd boxes just around the corner.
Posenenske has a compelling backstory, too. She was born in Germany in 1930 and went into hiding to avoid the Nazis. She did not escape the Holocaust unscathed, though—her father committed suicide when she was a child. Throughout the 1950s, Posenenske focused on making accessible, politically responsible art. Anyone who bought her steel or cardboard structures could choose how to assemble the individual pieces.
Artmaking, however, proved unsatisfying for her progressive ambitions. In 1968, Posenenske quit her practice to become a sociologist. She died young, at age 54 (of cancer), and curators are just beginning to re-insert her name into the art historical canon. The Dia exhibition proves she’s a crucial addition to the minimalist legacy.
Nari Ward at the New Museum
Through May 26th
Nari Ward’s Amazing Grace (1993) is one of the most moving installations on view in New York right now. Walking into a dimly lit room, the viewer encounters hundreds of used strollers, situated around fire hoses laid side by side on the floor. The titular hymn fills the room, enhancing the theatricality and gravity of the piece. Even without knowing the artist’s intent, the work conveys a haunting sense of loss as it evokes that famed, six-word Ernest Hemingway story: “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.”
In fact, the Jamaica-born, New York–based Ward found all the strollers abandoned in Harlem during a 1993 residency at the Studio Museum. The locally sourced, sullied symbols of innocence suggest the city’s ongoing contention with AIDS, drugs, and homelessness. If Amazing Grace is a highlight, it’s just one of many outstanding multimedia pieces in the artist’s solo exhibition. Hunger Cradle (1993) consists of a network of yarn, rope, and found materials that weave above the viewer’s head like a tangled web of domestic objects. Ward may be best known for scavenging materials from shopping carts to codfish, and his ability to turn trash into veritable treasure is a very special brand of alchemy.
David Byrd at White Columns
Through March 9th
91 Horatio Street
The quiet tones and pared-down compositions of Giorgio Morandi meet the gentle, cartoonish figures of a Pixar film in the paintings of David Byrd, who died in 2013 at age 87. Byrd himself lived a secluded life: Born in 1926, he joined the Merchant Marines and fought in World War II; briefly attended the Dauphin School of Art in Philadelphia and the Ozenfant School of Fine Art in New York; and worked menial jobs for decades. In 1958, Byrd became an orderly in the psychiatric ward of a Veterans Affairs hospital, which offered an abundance of aesthetic inspiration. He observed how people moved and interacted in the spare settings, then translated their pain and isolation to canvas.
A particularly moving title, Patient Expiring (1972), leaves the viewer wondering: breathing or dying? In the composition, a figure lies in a blue-blanketed bed with a bent knee. In the open, light-filled doorway, an orderly’s hands appear, making a checkmark on a clipboard. It is, perhaps, a parable of the artist’s work—peering at the shapes of life and death and bringing them into the light via gesture. Byrd received only one show in his lifetime, at Seattle’s Greg Kucera Gallery in 2012. White Columns is showing a small but excellent selection of the art trove he left behind. (Anton Kern Gallery is also showing Byrd’s work at 16 East 55th Street through March 9th.)
Judith Linhares at P.P.O.W
Through March 16th
535 West 22nd Street
The first line of Judith Linhares’s bio on her website reads: “Judith Linhares came of age in the socially turbulent ‘take-it-to-the-streets’ days of feminism, underground comics, and poetic reverie in Northern California.” Psychedelic shades still infuse the painter’s recent work, though she’s now living in Brooklyn. Her presentation at P.P.O.W shines with magenta and goldenrod, emerald and chartreuse. And the figures are no less colorful: Nude women gnaw on chicken wings, ride a horse, and lounge on craggy rocks beneath a lion.
Plants and animals abound, though in a decidedly expressionistic, unnatural manner. One painting, which features a crazed, cartoonish dog with pointy ears and a lolling tongue, earns its title, Rave (2018). Like contemporary painters Robin F. Williams and Mira Dancy, Linhares elevates her subjects into large-scale, mythological figures—but she’s been doing it since the 1970s. (Linhares’s work is also on view at the gallery’s booth at ADAA’s The Art Show, at the Park Avenue Armory through March 3rd.)