Even for the most devoted urbanite, one of the best things about the city in the summer is getting out of it. When the open road (or rail line) calls, there are all kinds of art destinations that merit a day trip. We rounded up some of the best summer shows within a few hours of New York City, from the Parrish Museum’s exhibition of Ross Bleckner, Eric Fischl, and David Salle’s early efforts to turn painting on its head, to Walter de Maria’s 10,000-square foot installation at Dia: Beacon.
Storm King Art Center
New Windsor, NY
Maya Lin, Storm King Wavefield, 2007-2008. Image courtesy of Storm King Art Center.
Ever since purchasing 13 David Smith sculptures in 1966, Storm King has been steadily transforming its 500 acres of verdant Lower Hudson Valley property into one of the best outdoor museums on the planet. The collection of 20th and 21st century artworks, many of which are site-specific commissions, are strategically placed amid the rolling hills, natural woodlands, open meadows, and walking paths, with a backdrop of stellar views of the Hudson Highlands and Schunnemunk and Storm King Mountains. Often the works emerge from the ground as if they’d always been there, as in the case of Maya Lin’s 2007–8 Storm King Wavefield, an 11-acre swath of undulating forms built into a former gravel pit, or Richard Serra’s 1990-91 steel Schunnemunk Fork. For its special summer and fall program, the park has installed several pieces by the late earthworks legend Dennis Oppenheim, including a viewing platform in the shape of a Pre-Columbian pyramid, surrounded by PVC pipes. Also on view through the late fall are three large-scale rulers made by Josephine Halvorson, the artist’s first outdoor project.
Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art
Right: Installation view of “David Brooks: Continuous Service Altered Daily.” Left: Installation view of “Virginia Overton.” Photos by Tom Powel Imaging, courtesy of the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum.
Artists Virginia Overton and David Brooks have both devoted some serious time and labor to their projects for the Aldrich’s “Site Lines” program, which invites artists to make works that engage directly with the museum’s space. For her part, the New York–based Overton, who is known for transforming salvaged materials into a kind of vernacular Minimalism (and who also has new works on view at the Whitney Museum at the moment), spent three years researching the Aldrich’s history and grounds to create her sculptures, several of which are made, in part, from a dead Eastern white pine from the museum’s property. Look for her weathervane atop the museum’s roof—it’s a shrunken tribute to a monumental minimalist sculpture by Robert Grosvenor from 1968. Brooks, meanwhile, took apart a 1976 John Deere 3330 series combine harvester and carefully displayed every part in a 9,000 square foot procession, arranged in varying states of artistic transformation—rusty and untreated, sandblasted, brass plated, and powder coated.
‘Walter De Maria, 360˚ I Ching/64 Sculptures, 1981. © The Estate of Walter De Maria. Photo by Bill Jacobson Studio, New York.
Monumental art often benefits from monumental surroundings. The 160,000 square feet of exhibition space that houses Dia: Beacon’s collection of Minimalist, Conceptual, Post-Minimalist, and Land Art is about as spacious as it gets without just placing the art outside. The transformed Nabisco factory, nestled on the banks of the Hudson, is like a post-industrial sanctuary for hulking sculptures and sprawling two-dimensional series, full of enough natural light and air to let works like Joseph Beuys’s intensely dense stacks of felt or rows of John Chamberlain’s smashed-car forms really breathe. For those who haven’t made it up the Hudson in some time, a trip is in order to check out Walter de Maria’s 360° I Ching (1981), which was installed this past May. Taking up nearly 10,000 square feet across two galleries, the piece, both abstract and cosmological, consists of 576 white-lacquered wood rods arranged into 64 different hexagrams. It’s mysterious and mesmerizing, not unlike much of the other work at Dia, including Robert Irwin’s ethereal 1998 light installation Excursus: Homage to the Square3, which is also temporarily on view through mid 2017.
New Canaan, CT
Installation view of “Yayoi Kusama: Narcissus Garden.” Image courtesy of Glass House.
This year would have been the 110th birthday of Philip Johnson, the famed architect and devoted art collector who lived in one of his most famous designs, the Glass House, a transparent box built in the Connecticut woods in 1949. Now a National Trust Historic Site and a foundation dedicated to preserving architecture and the art collection Johnson assembled with his partner, curator, and collector David Whitney, the Glass House has a strong curatorial program of rotating exhibitions. Currently on view is Yayoi Kusama’s 1966 Narcissus Garden, 1,300 identical floating spheres, each measuring foot in diameter, tucked into the lush landscape and newly restored pond. Reflecting their architectural and natural surroundings, the balls are light enough to move with the wind. Also on view is one of Kusama’s newest “Pumpkins,” a giant, supremely psychedelic steel one made just last year.
Bard Curatorial Center
Installation by Hito Steyerl from “Invisible Adversaries,” June 25 - September 18, 2016. Hessel Museum of Art, Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, NY. Photo by Chris Kendall.
The 10th anniversary of the Hessel Museum of Art at Bard—the first-rate art collection, permanently on loan from Marieluise Hessel—has given the center an opportunity to showcase just how fantastic her holdings are. “Invisible Adversaries: Marieluise Hessel Collection” takes its name from the 1976 film by Valie Export, the Austrian artist whose disavowal of her name in 1967 to take that of a cigarette brand is a good indication of her irreverence toward authority and social conventions, particularly those specific to women. It’s an invigorating jumping-off point for a show that includes work by some of the most compelling social critics and feminist voices since the 1970s, from Lorna Simpson and Janine Antoni to Hito Steyerl, whose 2015 film Factory of the Sun, shown in the German Pavilion of the Venice Biennale last year, makes its east coast debut.
Parrish Art Museum
Water Mill, NY
Photo courtesy of Allison Meier via Flickr.
The coastal light pouring through skylights atop the barn-like space of the Parrish Museum, located in the Hamptons, has a way of making paintings glow, so it should be a special treat to see the early works of Ross Bleckner, Eric Fischl, and David Salle there. The three first met while studying at CalArts in Los Angeles in the 1970s, during the rise of conceptual art. After finishing school, they moved to New York and, while some were still sounding painting’s death knell, they proved the medium’s relevance through their innovations. Together they fueled the newfound exuberance in painting that marked the heady New York art scene of the 1980s. Juxtaposing 23 of their paintings and 17 works on paper from the ’70s and ’80s, “Unfinished Business: Paintings from the 1970s and 80s by Ross Bleckner, Eric Fischl, and David Salle” draws out connections between the work of the three friends, from Bleckner’s dark and haunting memorials on canvas to Salle’s curious painting-printing-photomontages to Fischl’s unnerving suburban vignettes.
The School | Jack Shainman Gallery
Installation view of Hayv Kahraman’s work on view in “A Change of Place: Four Solo Exhibitions.” Photo courtesy of The School.
The vastness of The School, a renovated 30,000-square-foot elementary and middle school built in 1929, has allowed its founder, New York dealer Jack Shainman, to put together exhibitions that might not fit in his two Chelsea galleries. This summer—the space’s third—Shainman is showing seemingly disparate bodies of work by four artists: Pierre Dorion, Hayv Kahraman, Richard Mosse, and Garnett Puett. Longtime gallery artist Dorion photographed architectural elements of the exhibition space, then painted the resulting images, abstracting them and stripping them of their context. Kahraman, an Iraqi émigré, is represented by eerie new paintings of fragmented or otherwise afflicted women in her singular style, which brings to mind Arab manuscripts and Japanese scroll painting. Mosse, meanwhile, addresses the subject of war in the Democratic Republic of Congo in panoramic photos using infrared film that yields such super-charged color the images seem unreal. For his part, Garnett Puett, an expert beekeeper, created metal armatures and covered them in beeswax, and then set up a system behind glass where bees can fly in and add their own honeycomb to the structures during the duration of the show.