The 15 New York Gallery Shows You Need to See This September
For the New York art world, the first sign of fall isn’t turning leaves or freshly sharpened pencils, but rather an evening of gallery-goers overflowing onto Chelsea sidewalks, hopping from opening to opening. In advance of a promising new season of gallery shows—including fresh young artists, rich art-historical narratives, and smart fusions of art and technology—we’ve parsed through the deluge of new shows opening this month to share the 15 we’re itching to see the most.
Jonathan Gardner at Casey Kaplan
Sep. 8–Oct. 22, 121 West 27th Street
A year after Gardner’s paintings made buzzy appearances at LISTE and Art Basel in Miami Beach, the New York-based artist rings in his New York solo debut with a grouping of large-scale canvases. Building on his breakout body of stylized, just-left-of-surrealist tableaus, he fills his new work with elegant hodgepodges of traditional Modernist devices—supine nudes, fractured space, and tromp l’oeil details among them. But there’s a contemporary twist. The edges of each form are so smooth that they recall Photoshop concoctions. And house plants make witty reference to our current obsession with perfectly-potted succulents, while clothing and walls adorned with angular patterns look as though they’ve been lifted from your coolest friend’s Instagram feed. All this is to say, Gardner’s paintings carry more than the associations conjured by the reclining nude. They also embody—and question—today’s penchant for personal curation.
Peter Shire at Derek Eller Gallery
Sep. 8–Oct. 9, 300 Broome Street
Shire, whose ecstatic, angular sculptures and functional objects helped steer 1970s and ’80s art and design, is getting his due in New York this fall with concurrent solos at Derek Eller and The Jewish Museum. Influenced by space-age Googie architecture and brightly colored beach kitsch of his native Los Angeles, where he still lives and works, Shire’s ceramic works are bright and radical. In the late-’70s, they caught the eye of Italian design bigwig Ettore Sottsass, who invited Shire to be part of his influential art and design collective, the Memphis Group. This show at Derek Eller, “A Survey of Ceramics: 1970s to the Present,” corrals some 40 years of Shire’s inspired output, including a mesmerizing selection of his teapots, which resemble erector set feats, robotic scorpions, or Brutalist can openers.
The intersections of art and science are central to the work of Paterson, a Berlin-based Scottish conceptual artist who collaborates with research institutes and space agencies to create time-based projects, like an initiative in a Nordic forest to supply paper for future books. Her interest in astronomy and astrophysics, stemming from what she describes as a “thirst for the unseen, the unknown,” was sparked while living in northern Iceland, where she felt a particularly strong connection between earth, sky, and beyond. Two highlights of the new show at James Cohan—the artist’s first major solo exhibition in New York—are Totality (2016), a giant disco ball made up of 10,000 mirror tiles printed with images of solar eclipses, and Timepieces (Solar System) (2014), nine sparse analog clocks charting time on each planet in our solar system.
The 1929 gospel hymn “I’ll Fly Away” has inspired the work of thousands of artists (it’s been licensed over 5,000 times since its creation), from the belted-out high-notes of Aretha Franklin to the rockabilly baritone of Johnny Cash. But its most recent interpretation, in this exhibition by Johnson, is poised to be one of the strongest. In “Fly Away,” the Chicago-born artist fills Hauser & Wirth’s hangar-like gallery space with new paintings and sculpture that carry the song’s tenors of history and escapism—works include black-soap-and-wax portraits on tile, a Persian rug stacked with shea butter, and upside-down, free-falling figures. But the highlight is Johnson’s giant, African diaspora-inspired installation, Antoine’s Organ, where, amid scaffolding filled with books, plants, and hand-made ceramic vessels, an upright piano holds court. Listen for New York pianist and producer Antoine Baldwin (Audio BLK) as he tickles the ivories with original jazz throughout the first week—and on occasion during the show’s run.
Alfonso Ossorio at Michael Rosenfeld
Sep. 10–Oct. 29, 100 Eleventh Avenue
In the late 1950s, Filipino-American artist Ossorio began to incorporate found objects—buttons, starfish, seashells, mirrors, costume jewelry, and ropes among them—into oil paintings, which he dubbed “congregations.” Rather than an “assemblage,” which implies a unity of parts, this term emphasizes the multiplicity of the individual, incorporated objects, thereby sparking a sense of wonder akin to spiritual epiphany. “Religion must aim to inspire awe, to awe man with the splendor of his existence,” Ossorio once said. “By a set of unexpected juxtapositions, it must put you in a state of realization of how splendid things can be, even if they are horrible.” Often as lavish as Byzantine mosaics, these works are shown to celebrate what would have been the late artist’s 100th birthday.
Joan Semmel at Alexander Gray Associates
Sep. 8–Oct. 15, 510 West 26 Street
In the early ’70s in New York, amid the roiling atmosphere of the Vietnam War, Civil Rights, and the Women’s Liberation Movement, Semmel was inspired to halt her abstract painting practice in favor of figuration. Beginning with powerful, sexually explicit paintings in deep jewel tones, she soon turned to herself as subject and muse, using her own body to explore female identity—which has been a focus of her painting practice ever since. Semmel has seen something of a resurgence in recent years, including a solo show at the Bronx Museum of the Arts in 2013, inclusions in group shows at the Museum of Modern Art and the National Portrait Gallery D.C. in 2014, and as a prominent figure in “Black Sheep Feminism: The Art of Sexual Politics” earlier this year at Dallas Contemporary. Always a realist, Semmel now presents a show of new nude self-portraits, including nine paintings that picture her torso and limbs, often overlaid with line contours that further emphasize her form. The works fiercely face the subject of aging, acknowledging the lengths to which our society goes to avoid it.
During the summer of 2013, Random International’s Rain Room (2012) installation drew over 74,000 people to the Museum of Modern Art in New York, leading some to queue up for hours on end for the chance to walk through a room where rain falls everywhere except for over their heads. Begun by Hannes Koch and Florian Ortkrass in 2005, Random International has become a Berlin and London-based collaborative studio of designers, engineers, and technologists, who together create innovative works that straddle art, design, and science. This fall, the studio debuts new works in “On the Body,” their first exhibition in New York since MoMA’s Rain Room, which responds to the ways that humans consume and comprehend visual information. The show includes mirror installations that challenge how we perceive ourselves and a major robotic sculpture that the collective created following a residency at the biomimetic robotics division of the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.
Billy Al Bengston at Venus Over Manhattan
Sep. 29–Nov. 2, 980 Madison Avenue, Third Floor
Twelve of Bengston’s 1961 “B.S.A Motorcycle” paintings are at the heart of this overdue solo show for the Los Angeles-based artist, who was a Ferus Gallery mainstay and “Finish Fetish” pioneer in the 1960s. Bengston first made waves for radically incorporating the shiny finish and sleek forms of car culture and advertising aesthetics into large-scale canvases. The approach reached an apex in his “B.S.A. Motorcycle” works, which isolate painted motorcycle parts against fields of color that seem to give off spiritual auras. The show also includes a new crop of Bengston’s iconic “Chevron” paintings, which show a pared-down Chevron logo centered on both patterned and monochromatic backgrounds.
Charlotte Moorman at Grey Art Gallery
Sep. 8–Dec. 10, 100 Washington Square East
A central figure of the post-war avant-garde in New York and a lifelong advocate of genre-bending experimental art, Moorman called herself “mixed-media” even before the term had solidified in the art lexicon. Today she is remembered best, if at all, as the “topless cellist” in reference to her half-nude performances with Nam June Paik—who often remains the only name credited in their collaborations. Presenting an assortment of artworks, film clips, audio recordings, photographs, and performance props, “A Feast of Astonishments: Charlotte Moorman and the Avant-Garde, 1960s–1980s” provides a rare glimpse into the seminal achievements of this under-recognized pioneer of feminist performance art.
New York artist Simpson, who has engaged with photography, collage, and video in turn throughout her three-decade-long career, will present her first show of paintings this fall, a series that debuted last summer at the 56th Venice Biennale. These new works are large, even monumental in scale; one, titled Enumerated (2016), towers at 12 feet. A mixture of ink and acrylic, the paintings feature printed photographs gathered from vintage African-American magazines and the archive of the Associated Press. One series focuses specifically on Ebony, singling out phrases or images pulled directly from the magazine and isolating each one on a separate canvas. These pared-down “pages” speak to the cultural and political atmosphere in America today, as Simpson uses her work to break apart prefabricated notions of race and gender.
Madeline Hollander at SIGNAL
Aug. 27–Oct. 2, 260 Johnson Avenue, Brooklyn
Gifted both ballet lessons and wood-working tools at the tender age of seven, Hollander has, she once said, “been finding ways to combine dance with invention ever since.” Today, trained as a professional ballet dancer and with a bachelor’s degree in cultural anthropology under her belt, the young artist (born in 1986) creates moving sequences that push choreography far beyond dance and physical gestures to interpret our everyday interactions with the world. Following a series of performances at Socrates Sculpture Park this summer that pulled movements from life-saving techniques like the Heimlich and TSA pat-downs, “Drill,” Hollander’s month-long durational performance at SIGNAL, will see dancers enact the evacuation procedures for airplanes, movie theaters, theme parks, and the like. Each performance will follow dancers as they trace the footsteps of emergency floor plans—only to reach the exit and begin again. The work is set to a score by the artist’s sister and collaborator Celia Hollander and will be played out beneath a canopy of aircraft evacuation slides.
Simon Denny at Petzel
Sept. 8–Oct. 22, 456 West 18th Street
Following his Blockchain Visionaries (2016) installation with Linda Kantchev at the Berlin Biennale, Denny brings his studies into three leading bitcoin companies to New York. For this body of work, the artist has applied his investigative approach to a single, loaded question: “What would a world look like where the collusion of an elite few would be rendered technically impossible?” It’s a timely query that takes the form of a visual, sculptural map exploring the practices of bitcoin companies Ethereum, 21 Inc., and Digital Asset, which are set to disrupt the age-old systems of currency that bolster national borders and international power dynamics. Giant games of Risk accent the exhibition, forging a provocative connection between competitive gaming and global politics.
Charriere’s fascination with the bond between human beings and the natural landscape—and technology’s impact on this relationship—has brought the young Swiss artist on expeditions across the world, from scaling an iceberg in the Arctic Ocean, gas torch in hand, to photographing a nuclear testing site in Kazakhstan on analog film. It’s also generated much buzz for the artist, who is mounting three powerful bodies of work in his first-ever New York solo show. Look for the spoils of his 2015 trip to Kazakhstan, where medium-format negatives were exposed to radioactive soil before being developed; shock-frozen orchids and succulents that, sheathed in ice, are refrigerated and displayed in glass vitrines as “living fossils”; and his series of lava-melted computer motherboards, iPhones, and USB sticks, formed into molten rock and displayed on plinths (à la natural history museum display), that imagine how we’ll look back on our digital world.
In her 2015 memoir Hold Still, in addition to sharing stories from her early photography career and a complex family history, Mann let readers into the intimate friendship she shared with the late painter Cy Twombly up until his death in 2011. Both natives of Lexington, Virginia, the pair were drawn to one another, despite their vastly different art practices; Twombly became something of a mentor to Mann. In this exhibition, “Remembered Light: Cy Twombly in Lexington,” which is accompanied by a new publication, Mann shares her photographs of Twombly’s studio, taken between 1999 and 2012. Devoid of people, the works are brimming with traces of Twombly’s presence, from soft light washing over an in-progress sculpture, to paint-splattered slippers sitting amidst paint-splattered walls and floors.
“Coming To Power: 25 Years of Sexually X-Plicit Art by Women” at Maccarone
Sep. 9–Oct. 16, 630 Greenwich Street & 98 Morton Street
As residents at Skowhegan in 1991, the young artists Ellen Cantor and Patricia Cronin were drawn together through their sexually explicit work. With encouragement from their teacher that summer, the powerhouse feminist painter Joan Semmel, the young pair hatched a plan to curate a show of works by like-minded women, with aims to quash the dominant male perspectives on the female body in art. The show would promote the brave and brazen explicit art of their generation and the pioneers of the field from the previous one—the majority of whom had been lashed with scathing criticism. Curated by Cantor, the show came to fruition in 1993 at David Zwirner (the same year that he opened his SoHo gallery). Now, 23 years later, Pati Hertling and Julie Tolentino have curated a revival of the historic show at Maccarone, corralling together iconic works by all of the artists from the original, including Semmel, Cantor, and Cronin, as well as other feminist legends like Marilyn Minter, Lynda Benglis, Zoe Leonard, and Carolee Schneeman (each of whom have their own solo shows this fall as well, at Salon 94, Cheim & Read, Hauser & Wirth, and PPOW and Galerie Lelong, respectively). The show is accompanied by a fresh performance program of younger artists, including Niv Acosta, Jim Fletcher, FlucT, Xandra Ibarra/La Chica Boom, Kia Labeija, and Narcissister.