The first full week of the New Year brings with it some intriguing new openings, some ongoing shows and the promise of a year full of fine art. The week January 4-10 features artists such as Keith Mayerson, Josef Albers, Ann Pibal, Sarah Lucas, Karl Haendel, and many others. Here is Blouin Artinfo’s list of these must-visit art shows.
Keith Mayerson’s “My American Dream: Heroes and Villain” at Marlborough Contemporary
January 8 through February 2
An exhibition of paintings by Keith Mayerson opens Marlborough Gallery’s 2019 calendar. Continuing with Mayerson’s career-spanning exploration of real and fictional public figures, “Heroes and Villain” can be “characterized as a hopeful representation of America as a generally progressive and morally good nation that moves, slowly and determinedly, toward greater inclusiveness, social justice, and peaceful coexistence,” the gallery says. “Mayerson’s optimism is grounded in his reverence for our greatest leaders, pop-cultural icons, political dissidents, and commentators.” Mayerson has an unusual approach. He paints from photographs taken by him as well as borrowed from other photographers while listening to recorded biographies or albums, using a “method actor’s strategy of immersion in his subject. … It is precisely this emotional investment and ideological commitment that imbues these works with the artist’s earnest ambition to conjure paintings that transcend their source image,” the gallery says.
“Borders” at James Cohan
January 10 through February 23
In a time when immigration and refugees are political flashpoints, the idea of borders is being revisited and challenged by a number of artists. Synonymous with state power, sovereignty, and national identity, borders “define both belonging and otherness,” the gallery says. “In the face of rising nationalism and the growing global refugee crisis, borders across the world are tightening and also unraveling.”The exhibition features works in a wide range of materials by artists such as Sol LeWitt, Yinka Shonibare MBE, Federico Herrero, Hank Willis Thomas, XU ZHEN®, and many others.“This exhibition will seek to create a framework and a dialogue about borders as both places of productive exchange and barriers of exclusion,” the gallery says.
“Josef Albers: Sonic Albers” at David Zwirner
January 8 through February 16
The American-German artist Josef Albers is known for his experimental investigations of color, spatial form, and visual experience, which were often inspired by the compositional and structural qualities of music. The artist associated the relationship of colors and music in art in his 1963 art text “Interaction of Color,” quoting, “Hearing music depends on the recognition of the in-between of the tones, of their placing and of their spacing,” and “colors present themselves in continuous flux, constantly related to changing neighbors and changing conditions,” he notes. These overlapping qualities of music and color are etched in many of the visual compositions he created during his career. Organized in collaboration with the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation, the show will feature an array of paintings, glassworks, drawings, and ephemera by Albers, including a selection of the album covers he designed in the late 1950s and early 1960s, providing “a far-reaching look at this underexplored facet of the artist’s practice,” the gallery says.
“Karl Haendel: Masses & Mainstream” at Mitchell-Innes & Nash
January 10 through February 16
An exhibition of new works on paper by the Los Angeles-based artist Karl Haendel opens the New Year at Mitchell-Innes & Nash. The featured works, drawn in diverse scales, cover a lot of ground, depicting subjects as diverse as a stack of lawnmowers and a portrait of Barbara Walters. “The common thread that links these disparate images is a dialogue between memory, both personal and collective, and national identity,” the gallery says. “Many of the works on view are drawn from overlooked sources in contemporary American life—cultural leftovers the artist combs through and resuscitates in order to represent an alternate picture of American reality. Other works, like the aforementioned stack of lawnmowers, come from the artist’s personal history and experiences—a once-submerged detail from his childhood home that has floated to the surface of recollection—that could also be read, more symbolically, as the paraphernalia of American comfort, excess and, perhaps even, of the endangered middle class.”
Last Chance to See:
“Calder/Kelly” at Levy Gorvy
On view through January 9
Levy Gorvy presents a dialogue of works by the American artists Alexander Calder and Ellsworth Kelly, celebrating their friendship. On view are nearly three dozen paintings and sculptures created over the course of more than 50 years. Highlights include Calder’s “Red Maze III,” 1954, and “Black Beast,” 1940; alongside Kelly’s “Red White,” 1962, and “Three Gray Panels,” 1987. “Animated by the tension between figuration and abstraction, the works suggest intriguing intersections, including the striking repartee between two- and three-dimensionality (which, in Calder’s case, extends to four-dimensionality) that is a notable element of each artist’s oeuvre,” Levy Gorvy says.
“Toward a Concrete Utopia” at MoMA
On view through January 13
The exhibition explores one of the rarely studied subjects of modernist architecture — the post-war works of Yugoslavian architects. “Situated between the capitalist West and the socialist East, Yugoslavia’s architects responded to contradictory demands and influences,” MoMA says. “Toward a Concrete Utopia: Architecture in Yugoslavia, 1948-1980” brings together over 400 drawings, models, photographs, and film reels drawn from various municipal archives, personal collections, and museums from the region, featuring works by architects such as Bogdan Bogdanović, Juraj Neidhardt, Svetlana Kana Radević, Edvard Ravnikar, Vjenceslav Richter, and Milica Šterić. The featured works on view examine the post-war scenarios of large-scale urbanization, the introduction of technology in everyday life, consumerism, and Yugoslav architecture’s international reach.
Also on View:
“Surf Type” by Ann Pibal at Team Gallery
Through January 19
The artist Ann Pibal has chosen surfing — particularly mid-century depictions of male, American surfers in print magazines — as the lens through which to view not only new modes of artistic abstraction, but also the gender and power politics therein. Her current exhibition “Surf Type” continues her signature style of doing away with artistic hierarchies, exploring a work’s medium and physicality, and finding new meaning in classic archetypes. Our critic Cody Delistraty interviewed the artist and her ideas about surfing as a symbol and a metaphor in American masculinity. You can read Pibal’s interview here.
“Sarah Lucas: Au Naturel” at the New Museum
Through January 20
The New Museum is hosting the first American survey of the works of British artist Sarah Lucas, bringing together more than 150 examples of photography, sculpture, and installation by the artist. Initially associated with the Young British Artists (YBAs), Lucas’ body of work laced with notions of Surrealism subverts traditional notions of gender, sexuality, and identity. Since the late 1980s, the artist “transformed found objects and everyday materials such as cigarettes, vegetables, and stockings into absurd and confrontational tableaux that boldly challenge social norms,” the museum says. You can read Connor Goodwin’s review of the show for Blouin Artinfo here.