525 and 533 West 20th St. between Tenth & Eleventh Aves.
Through February 22, free, 10:00 am - 6:00 pm
Doug Wheeler’s immersive light installation 49 Nord 6 Est 68 Ven 12 FL at David Zwirner is supposed to make you feel dizzy, but it’s the Noah Davis painting retrospective that will make you go weak in the knees. The Washington-born artist, who died of a rare form of cancer in 2015 at the age of thirty-two, left behind a dazzling legacy, both in his exquisitely beautiful and affecting canvases as well as his cofounding of the Underground Museum in LA with his wife, sculptor Karon Davis, and his brother, filmmaker Kahlil Joseph. “He made some four hundred paintings, collages, and sculptures, although I think it’s fair to say the deep DNA truth of Noah was that he was first and foremost a painter. His paintings are both figurative and abstract, realistic and dreamlike; they are about blackness and the history of Western painting, drawn from photographs and from life; they are exuberant and doleful in their palette,” museum board member and exhibition curator Helen Molesworth said in a statement.
The works at David Zwirner are simply staggering, breathtaking depictions of primarily black men, women, and children that often include a touch of magical realism. In an untitled painting from 2015, two girls sleep back-to-back on a couch, a partly covered figure at the left, an open door to the right, allowing us to peek into this intimate scene. In Prey, a Modigliani-esque, Giacometti-like faceless woman balances on a mountain, a deer peering off in the distance in front of her. Pueblo del Rio: Stain Glass Pants bursts to life with colorful geometric shapes and patterns that extend to every corner. The pool scene 1975 (8) offers a unique counterpart to David Hockney. Hung side by side, it appears that the pianist in Pueblo del Rio: Concerto is playing for the six dancers in Pueblo del Rio: Arabesque. Mark Rothko is specifically referenced in The “Fitz,” two very different depictions of a house. And in the surreal Imaginary Enemy, a man on fire is walking toward a second man wearing a strange item on his head and stepping on a giant golden bracelet that is taller than him.
The hand of the artist is vividly present in works that are superbly composed with a spectacular use of color, giving the paintings a visceral quality that gets down into your soul. As I walked around the gallery spaces, I saw other viewers who seemed to be experiencing the same power, immersed in Davis’s palpable world view. In the back room, Zwirner has re-created part of the Underground Museum, with two models of shows he was curating, family photographs, a bookshelf, a sculpture of a child by Karon Davis, Shelby George furniture designed by Davis’s mother, Faith Childs-Davis, and a video loop playing Joseph’s BLKNWS, a two-channel alternative news station that will come to BAM next month. The overall museum-quality exhibition is dizzying, in only the best way, a fitting tribute to a supremely talented artist who left us too soon.
The Jewish Museum, Scheuer Auditorium
1109 Fifth Ave. at 92nd St.
Thursday, February 13, $12-$18, 6:30
Exhibit continues through March 22, $8-$18, pay-what-you-wish Thursday from 5:00 - 8:00, free Saturday
Rachel Feinstein’s first survey exhibition, “Maiden, Mother, Crone” at the Jewish Museum, leads visitors down the Arizona-born, New York City-based multidisciplinary artist’s unique rabbit hole, an abstract wonderland where mythology, fairy tales, religious iconography, sexuality, and family are interwoven through a distinctly feminist lens. Mirrors figure prominently, allowing us to take a close look at ourselves and our innate biases. In conjunction with the show, Feinstein will give the Gertrude and David Fogelson Lecture at the museum on February 13, followed by a book signing of the companion monograph. The exhibit is fashioned like a fantastical trip though winding pathways with life-size statues, maquettes, paintings, film, and installation that are not always what they initially seem. A former fashion model who studied at Columbia, Feinstein creates works layered with nuance and filled with little surprises.
Model, a wood, plaster, and enamel paint construction with mirrors, is flanked by St. Sebastian and St. Michael, equating pop culture and religion. One room features Goldstein, a white-painted, carefully carved wood wall that evokes a tropical getaway, while another offers Panorama of Rome, Mylar wallpaper of Ancient Roman architecture surrounding such classical-inspired statuary as Corinne, a swirling Majolica piece made with the Nymphenburg Porcelain Manufactory and based on an eighteenth-century Commedia dell’Arte figurine; The Orphan and Bleeding Shepherdess, which subvert convention with frank images of the female body and its functions; and Butterfly and Puritan’s Delight, which play with fairy-tale tropes.
Also on view are the stained wood Adam and Eve, which intertwines the biblical couple with nature in the Garden of Eden; a yearning depiction of the Crucifixion, Feinstein’s first work after having witnessed the destruction on 9/11 from her downtown apartment; the colorful Flower Girl, a Play-Doh-like youth with animals congregating all over her; Mr. Time, a fanciful black-and-white working clock based on a drawing by Feinstein’s son when he was ten; and a series of six cameo-like paintings of women on oval mirrors, five elderly ladies and a younger prima ballerina.
The inherent tension in Feinstein’s oeuvre, involving color, materials, and meaning in a kind of twisting of Hans Christian Andersen and Lewis Carroll, is also evident in her 1994-96 experimental short film Spring and Winter, in which she reconfigures Charles Perrault’s Sleeping Beauty story with an eye to the source material, Giambattista Basile’s Sun, Moon, and Talia, which was not so child friendly, as well as the true story of Art and Nan Kellam, a couple who lived in isolation on an island off the coast of Maine; in the film, Feinstein portrays a paper doll, a maiden, and a crone. There’s a theatricality to virtually everything Feinstein creates; in fact, her 2014 Folly installation in Madison Square Park was accompanied by a performance festival. “Maiden, Mother, Crone” continues through March 22; on March 12 ($18, 6:30), the panel discussion “Dialogue and Discourse — Once Upon a Time: Narrative in Art” features Feinstein with Lisa Yuskavage, Sofia Coppola, Tamara Jenkins, and Florence Welch, moderated by curator Kelly Taxter, and there will be such special gallery talks as “Mirrors of Civilization” and “The Dark Side of Fairy Tales” as well as Thursday Evening Cocktails through February, where attendees can try Feinstein’s potent potable of choice, the Negroni, an Italian favorite consisting of gin, vermouth rosso, and Campari.
The High School of Art and Design
245 East 56th St.
Saturday, February 8, and Sunday, February 9, $5-$15 per day, $10-$20 two-day pass, 10:00 am - 6:00 pm
Fanfaire NYC takes place this weekend, a two-day festival celebrating cartooning, animation, graphic design, architecture, and fashion. An annual benefit for the High School of Art and Design, the multidimensional fest features more than 125 artists and vendors, talks and panels, workshops, costume contests, video games, movie screenings, and portfolio reviews. This year’s guests range from artists and professors to cosplayers and editors, from character designers and executives to writers and high school alum, including Neal Adams, Abe Audish, Bob Camp, Klaus Janson, Chip Kidd, Geoff Spear, and David Mazzucchelli. Founded in 1936, the High School of Art and Design, which is a public school, has boasted such graduates as Adams, Tony Bennett, Calvin Klein, Marc Jacobs, Art Spiegelman, Amy Heckerling, and Steven Meisel. Below are only some of the highlights:
Saturday, February 8
Graphic Design & Illustration Portfolio Review, with Joann Hill and Cryssy Cheung, Library, sixth floor, advance registration required, 10:00 am
Careers in Animation, with Bob Camp, Sachio Cook, Chrissy Fellmeth, and Abe Audish, moderated by Kiara Arias and Jaydan Hyman, Black Box, LL2, 10:30
Tracing Is Not a Crime, with Neal Adams, moderated by Josh Adams, Classroom 1, sixth floor, 10:30
My Life in Ink, with tattoo artist Keith “BANG BANG” McCurdy, Black Box, LL2, 12:00
Breaking into Comics and Other Tales, with Klaus Janson, moderated by Chris Allo, Black Box, LL2, 1:30
Storytelling in Comics with David Mazzucchelli, Classroom 1, sixth floor, 3:00
Mythconceptions — Behind the Scenes of George O’Connor’s Olympians, with George O’Connor, Black Box, LL2, 4:30
Sunday, February 9
Ink Flow: Learning to Ink Like Neal Adams, with Neal Adams, moderated by Josh Adams, Classroom 1, sixth floor, 10:00 am
Freelance isn’t Free — How to Build Yourself as an Artist and Run a Business, with Lucinda Lewis, Chrissy Fellmeth, Nik Virella, and Cristian S. Aluas, moderated by Miss Kill Joy, Auditorium, LL2, 12:00
Cosplay Competition: People's Choice Masquerade, Auditorium, LL2, 2:00 - 5:00
Inside the Art of Sequential Visual Storytelling, with Carl Potts, Black Box, LL2, 2:30
Children’s Books: More than Drawing Cute Bunnies, with Joann Hill, Classroom 3, sixth floor, 3:00
DYNAMIC DUO: The art of last impressions, slide presentation, discussion, and book signing, with Chip Kidd, Geoff Spear, and Charles Kochman, Black Box, LL2, 4:00 - 6:00
Who: Antony Gormley
What: Artist talk at Parsons School of Design addressing the question “What is sculpture good for?”
Where: The New School, the Auditorium, Alvin Johnson/J.M. Kaplan Hall, 66 West Twelfth St.
When: Tuesday, February 4, free with advance registration, 6:00
Why: On February 4, British sculptor Antony Gormley will be at Parsons School of Design to discuss his latest work, New York Clearing, which will be on view in Brooklyn Bridge Park’s Pier 3 from February 5 to March 27. The “drawing in space,” consisting of eighteen kilometers of looping and coiling square aluminum tubing, is part of the global project CONNECT, BTS, organized by K-pop sensation BTS. “It’s a truth universally acknowledged that creativity can transcend the boundaries of language, culture, and history,” the superstar boy group explains on the official website. “Art embodies a will to respond to the world, and to communicate that response to others; it is always there, no matter what the era, moving with or despite the times. . . . CONNECT, BTS reaches for a collective experience that might be only the beginning of new communication between art, music, and people.” Curated by Daehyung Lee, CONNECT, BTS also includes Danish artist Jakob Kudsk Steensen’s Catharsis in London, the performance series Rituals of Care curated by Stephanie Rosenthal and Noémie Solomon in Berlin, and Argentine artist Tomás Saraceno’s Aerocene Pacha in Buenos Aires, as well as a yet-to-be-named work in Seoul. “Art only becomes art when it is shared,” the London-born Gormley, whose Event Horizon dazzled and frightened people in Madison Square Park nearly ten years ago, has said. Admission to the February 4 discussion is free with advance registration.
Winter Garden, Garment District
Broadway between 37th & 38th Sts.
Through February 1, free,
If the winter doldrums are getting you down, if the cold and dark are wearing on your nerves, the Garment District Alliance and the New York City Department of Transportation’s Seasonal Streets Program have just the thing to break the monotony: a seesaw. Through February 1, Impulse will continue on Broadway between Thirty-Seventh & Thirty-Eighth Sts., twenty giant teeter-totters equipped with motion-detector LED lights and sound (the subtle sound design is by Mitchell Akiyama, with electronics by Robocut Studio) that come together in happy-making union.
Designed by Lateral Office and CS Design in collaboration with EGP Group and fabricated by Generique Design, the installation brings the playground fixture to a usually busy urban environment, but the street is cut off to vehicular traffic so up to four people at a time can “ride, take a free ride / Take their place / Have their seat / It’s for free.” Just be fair to your fellow teeterboarders who might be waiting patiently as you go up and down, up and down, amid relaxing light and sound, as well as plenty of laughter.
Gallery Korea of the Korean Cultural Center New York
460 Park Ave. between Fifty-Seventh & Fifty-Eighth Sts., sixth floor
Monday - Friday through January 31, free
To celebrate its fortieth anniversary, the Korean Cultural Center New York is hosting the three-part exhibition “Nam June Paik: The Maestro of Time,” which continues at Gallery Korea weekdays through January 31. The free show also honors the fourteenth anniversary of the death of the Father of Video Art, who passed away on January 29, 2006, in Miami when he was seventy-three. The centerpiece is Paik’s massive M200/Video Wall, a barrage of eighty-six television monitors blasting colorful sounds and images that Paik created for the bicentennial of the passing of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, who died in Vienna in 1791 at the age of thirty-five. The video sculpture, which Paik referred to as “moving wall paintings,” predicted the age of digital information bombardment as pictures and snippets of performances fly by, from the Korean American artist’s friends and collaborators Joseph Beuys, Merce Cunningham, and John Cage to David Bowie and a man dressed as Mozart. As Paik said way back in 1965, “The cathode-ray tube will someday replace the canvas.”
Tucked away in a corner of the gallery is Paik’s Video Chandelier No. 4, a low-hanging chandelier dangling from what appears to be the top of a tree that has small video monitors in its leaves instead of fruit, strikingly linking technology to nature. Also on view is a series of black-and-white photographs by Jae-young Choi of one of Paik’s avant-garde gut performances, in which the man who coined the term “electronic superhighway” staged a shamanistic ritual on his birthday in 1990, paying tribute to Beuys. Gallery Korea is open 9:00 to 5:00 Monday to Friday but will stay open till 8:00 on January 29.