With even the most committed holiday vacationers back in New York (and the winter showing some welcome restraint), this week is a great time to get out and see some of the choice exhibitions and films on offer, from potentially pornographic new shows to an airy tribute to the West Coast to a film that helped spur two revolutions. Opening Thursday: Gelitin, at Greene Naftali Gallery, 508 West 26th Street, 8th floor, on view through Feb. 27, 2010, opening Thursday, Jan. 28, 6–8 p.m. The next time the culture wars spill over into the art world, conservative pundits may want to consider the artist collective Gelitin as a scapegoat. The European collective has spent the past 17 years creating art that is either breathtakingly vulgar — a piece at the 2009 Artissima art fair in Turin, Italy, involved performers peeing on and fellating one other — or sublimely juvenile — a motorized vehicle, adorned with stuffed animals, which provided rides around the Emmanuel Perrotin Gallery in Miami. Their new project at Greene Naftali’s eighth-floor space may lean toward the latter. They’ve invited dozens of artist friends to help them construct a sculpture while blindfolded, and on opening night, painters Cecily Brown and Amy Sillman will be among their assistants. Perhaps most amazingly, the project is government-funded: the Austrian Cultural Forum will be picking up part of the tab.
Bruce Conner, “The Late Bruce Conner,” at Susan Inglett Gallery, 522 West 24th Street, on view through March 13, opening Thursday, Jan. 28. It will take decades to sort through all of the work that sui generis experimenter Bruce Conner produced over his 74-year, multidisciplinary career, but Susan Inglett Gallery has gotten the ball rolling with this noble effort, which proposes that we start at the end of his oeuvre. The first room is filled with delicate collages featuring engraved wood: a comet blazes past an ornate library window in one, a gridded orb appears on a rocky sea shore in another. They could be the work of a skilled Victorian occultist. Those not satiated by his final film, the 10-minute “Easter Morning,” which will also be on display, can venture out to Times Square, where the New York nonprofit arts group Creative Time is showing excerpts from his films on MTV’s outdoor television screen in high-definition glory.
“The Visible Vagina” at Francis M. Naumann Fine Art, 24 West 57th Street, opening Wednesday, Jan. 27, 6–8 p.m., and at David Nolan Gallery, 527 West 29th Street, opening Thursday, Jan. 28, 6–8 p.m. Both shows run through March 20. Two of New York's most ingenious gallerists have teamed up for this exhibition of works featuring the female genitalia. Artists range from expected selections like Richard Prince, Jeff Koons, and Gustav Courbet, to some more surprising names: Terry Winters? Lest the dealers be accused of promoting prurient interests, they've announced that all proceeds from the show's richly illustrated catalog will be donated to V Day, a charity that aims to stop violence against women. Last year, Naumann filled every inch of his gallery with artist-made chess sets in honor of art's greatest devotee of the game, Marcel Duchamp. If this show is half as ambitious, viewers are in for a trip. As a special bonus, David Nolan Gallery is hosting a panel on Saturday from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m., featuring Anne Chave, Carolee Schneeman, Jan Hammond, Mira Schor, and Walter Robinson.
Sergei Eisenstein, October / Oktyabr, at Anthology Film Archives, 32 Second Avenue, Jan. 30 at 7:00 p.m. Soviet officials commissioned director Sergei Eisenstein to create this storied film to celebrate the Russian Revolution's 10th anniversary, which explains the bloated (though hilarious) caricatures of the tsars and other Bolshevik enemies. But while its history may be skewed, its techniques are unimpeachable, rendering the tale with taut precision in rapid-fire jump cuts: it’s late-century MTV, 50 years early. The film also launched a second revolution: When Artforum editors Rosalind Krauss and Annette Michelson — incensed that the magazine had run a photo of a nude Lynda Benglisbrandishing a dildo, as a response to a hyper-masculine work by Robert Morris — broke off to form their own journal, they named it October and, at least for a while, exercised considerable art-world clout. Two decades after the Berlin Wall, and with much of the October partisans safely ensconced within tenured professorships, it all seems a little quaint. One imagines that seeing it on the large screen of Anthology’s cavernous theater, it will be easy to see what all the fuss was about.
And don't miss:
“Primary Atmospheres: Works from California 1960–1970,” at David Zwirner Gallery, 525 West 19th Street, on view through Feb. 6 Only eight full days remain to see this panegyric to West Coast minimalism, easily the best show to open in New York so far this year. A dark room in the back harbors two projections by James Turrell from 1968. They look like solid, potentially dangerous blocks of color, but they’re just beams of light. Robert Irwin — “the father of them all!” a visitor exclaimed at the opening — enchants another room with three pieces: a painting filled with tiny dots, a floating disc, and a clear acrylic column towering 12 feet tall. Not far from a dreamy, smoky Larry Bell cube sit two John McCracken planks from 1967, looking fresh off the assembly line of America’s finest car factory. One is red, the other light, hazy pink. It’s titled with a welcome command: “Think Pink.”