Leonard Fink, “Self-Portrait on Pier 46 (“This is Serious Too”)” (1979), silver gelatin print, 8 x 10 in (collection and © of the LGBT Community Center National History Archive)

We’re back with our yearly spring guide of must-see, fun, insightful, and very New York art events. From museum shows to air fairs to film festivals, you’ll have plenty to keep you busy with this season. Please note that some of the exhibitions listed here opened in January and February, but lucky for us they continue through the spring.

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The Beautiful Brain: The Drawings of Santiago Ramon y Cajal and Baya: Woman of Algiers

Baya, “Femme et enfant en bleu (Woman and child in blue)” (1947) gouache on board, 22 3/4 x 17 7/8 in (Collection Isabelle Maeght, Paris © Photo Galerie Maeght, Paris)

When: January 9–March 31
Where: Grey Art Gallery (100 Washington Square East, Greenwich Village, Manhattan)

The Grey Art Gallery is putting on two fascinating and very distinct exhibitions this season. One displays neuroscientist Santiago Ramon y Cajal’s drawings of the brain, which are not only beautiful but remarkably clear and accurate. Eighty of his drawings, which date to the late 19th and early 20th centuries, will be shown alongside contemporary visualizations of the brain. The gallery’s second exhibition is devoted to Baya Mahieddine (known as Baya), an Algerian artist who has yet to gain international recognition. Her vibrant, patterned gouaches and ceramics drew the attention of André Breton, Henri Matisse, and Pablo Picasso. This show finally shifts the focus to Baya.

King in New York

When: January 13–June 1
Where: Museum of the City of New York (1220 Fifth Avenue, East Harlem, Manhattan) 

It’s been 50 years since Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee. In honor of his memory, this exhibition revisits his legacy, specifically within the context of New York City, where King focused much of his activism. Through various photographs and ephemera, the show will remember his sermons in churches, visits to the United Nations, and much more.

Martin Luther King at Reception after the W.E.B. Du Bois Centennial Tribute at Carnegie Hall where he gave the keynote speech, February 23, 1968 (photo by Builder Levy, courtesy the photographer)

Figurative Diaspora  

When: January 16–March 4
Where: New York Academy of Art (111 Franklin Street, Tribeca, Manhattan)

Following a tradition of presenting figurative artists, the New York Academy of Art is mounting an exhibition of “unofficial” art — that is, art produced by official training but without state sanction. The show, which features five Soviet artists and five contemporary Chinese artists, reveals the influence of Soviet Social Realism, which was used by post-1950s Chinese artists to make daring, subversive, and mocking work.

No. NOT EVER.   

When: January 18–April 15
Where: Interference Archive (314 7th St, Park Slope, Brooklyn)

The Seattle-based collective If They Don’t They Will has partnered with the Interference Archive to share a video-based work that provides “an anti-racist, anti-fascist framework for understanding the rise of white nationalism” today. The video documents organizing efforts throughout the 1980s and ’90s in the Pacific Northwest and how communities both urban and rural can resist white nationalist sentiments.

Bill Owens, “It takes a year to make a gyro-ball guidance system for the C-5A aircraft from the portfolio Working” (1975–1977), gelatin silver print on paper (collection Zimmerli Art Museum at Rutgers Gift of Robert Harshorn Shimshak and Marion Brenner, given in honor of the class of 1968, photo Peter Jacobs)

It’s Just a Job: Bill Owens and Studs Terkel on Working in 1970s America

When: January 20–July 29
Where: Zimmerli Art Museum (71 Hamilton Street, New Brunswick, New Jersey)

Today we are very familiar with the sentiment that a job is “just a job.” But in the 1970s, this expression was only starting to take hold. Noticing this, photographer Bill Owens and oral historian Studs Terkel set out to document the lives of secretaries, factory workers, and insurance agents. The two discovered widespread dissatisfaction among white-collar office workers, as well as a search for “meaning” amidst often discriminatory workplaces. This exhibition gathers the evidence.

Dock workers, Brooklyn, 1924 (image courtesy Brooklyn Historical Society)


When: Opened January 20
Where: Brooklyn Historical Society (55 Water Street, Dumbo, Brooklyn)

The Brooklyn Historical Society’s satellite museum is housed in a building that dates back to the late 1860s, when it was a large commercial center for coffee, sugar, animal hides, and other goods. From the mid-1900s to 2017, the complex was largely abandoned. This long-term exhibition honors the area’s history, revealing artifacts that were discovered beneath the building and sharing documents related to the lives of local workers from the past. 

Birds of a Feather: Joseph Cornell’s Homage to Juan Gris 

When: January 23–April 15
Where: Metropolitan Museum of Art (1000 5th Ave, Upper East Side, Manhattan)

In the fall of 1953, Joseph Cornell fell in love with a Cubist collage by Juan Gris depicting a man in a fedora. Titled “The Man at the Café,” the work would inspire Cornell to create 18 shadow boxes over the dedicated period of 15 years. This exhibition for the first time reunites almost a dozen of these boxes alongside Gris’s famed portrait.

Leonard Fink: Out for the Camera

When: January 24–August 5
Where: Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art (26 Wooster Street, Soho, Manhattan)

The queer photographer Leonard Fink might not be a household name, but in the 1970s and early ’80s he took hundreds of photographs of the gay community in New York City. His images were intimate, whether of people cruising along the waterfront or marching for the pride parade. This exhibition takes us into Fink’s personal world: his apartment, friends, and self-portraits.

Peter Hujar: Speed of Life

Peter Hujar, “Ethyl Eichelberger as Minnie the Maid” (1981), gelatin silver print (purchased on the Charina Endowment Fund, the Morgan Library & Museum, © Peter Hujar Archive, LLC, courtesy Pace/MacGill Gallery, New York and Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco)

When: January 26–May 20
Where: Morgan Library & Museum (225 Madison Avenue, Midtown, Manhattan)

This exhibition offers the rare opportunity to see 140 photographs by Peter Hujar, spanning from the 1950s to the ’80s, when he had established himself as a leading figure in the East Village art scene. The display is a chance to see many of his black-and-white, emotional portraits of famous personalities, for which he is most known for, and to learn more about his adventurous career, cut short by AIDS.

Edmund Clark: The Day the Music Died 

When: January 26–May 6
Where: International Center of Photography Museum (250 Bowery, Lower East Side, Manhattan)

Though Edmund Clark is, in some sense, Britain’s Trevor Paglen, his photographs, videos, and installations tend to focus on the effects of a US-led initiative that continues to have enormous international repercussions: the so-called War on Terror. From redacted CIA documents to the correspondence of Guantanamo detainees, Edmund’s preferred approach is to expose what he calls “the ordinariness of the process and the extraordinariness of the situation.” In doing so, he shows us how governments often use the mundanity of bureaucracy to conceal their most nefarious activities.

Of Earth and Heaven: Art from the Middle Ages 

When: January 27–March 10
Where: Luhring Augustine (531 West 24th St, Chelsea, Manhattan)

As galleries increasingly expand into what feel like museum-like contexts, rich historical offerings of the kind one expects from the Metropolitan Museum of Art may pop up in Chelsea. One case in point is Luhring Augustine’s Of Earth And Heaven, which displays three sections of intricately cut stone from the transept of Canterbury Cathedral, as well as a selection of paintings and sculptures from across Europe from the 12th to 16th centuries.

Carissa Rodriguez: The Maid

When: January 29–April 2
Where: SculptureCenter (44–19 Purves St, Long Island City, Queens)

The New York City-based artist Carissa Rodriguez debuts her first solo museum exhibition in the city with an exhibition of two video works and a series of photographic prints that ruminate on notions of time. One video depicts the life of art objects, and the other of girls playing outside in Chinatown. The contrasts that emerge are compelling, placing in high relief the circumstances and qualities of animate versus inanimate life. 


George Kalinsky, “6/5/1994 With a Game 7 win over Indiana in the Eastern Conference Finals, the Knicks advance to their first NBA Finals in 21 years” (image courtesy New-York Historical Society)

New York Through the Lens of George Kalinsky

When: February 2–June 3
Where: New-York Historical Society (170 Central Park West, Upper West Side, Manhattan)

The famous Madison Square Garden has its own official photographer, and his name is George Kalinsky. He’s been doing the job for 50 years, and has captured many memorable moments. This exhibition showcases the range of what he’s witnessed, from a Frank Sinatra concert to a visit by Pope John Paul II. —EWA

Tania Bruguera: Untitled (Havana, 2000) 

When: February 3–March 11
Where: Museum of Modern Art (11 West 53rd Street, Midtown, Manhattan)

Tania Bruguera is known for her battles with censorship through artworks that deal with social behaviors and performance. She has moved back and forth between Cuba and the United States for years; her performances, especially in Havana, have drawn as much media attention as they have government disapproval. The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) presents a video that Bruguera initially conceived of for the Havana Biennial in 2000. The work, which reflects on Cuba in the wake of the Revolution, was shut down at the biennial after just a few hours. 

Leon Golub: Raw Nerve

When: February 6–May 27
Where: Met Breuer (945 Madison Avenue, Upper East Side, Manhattan) 

The title of Leon Golub’s survey, Raw Nerve, gets at the emotional and physical intensity of his canvases. Not only is the subject matter of his painting often disturbing — most often featuring guns, violence, and soldiers in combat — but he scratched and scraped away at the surface of his images, making them look scarred. This exhibition is a powerful look at an artist who had a particular, albeit painful, vision of the world.

Lucas Foglia, “Vanessa and Lauren watering, GreenHouse Program, Rikers Island jail complex, New York” (2014) (© the artist and courtesy, Fredericks & Freiser Gallery, New York)

Prison Nation

When: February 7–March 7
Where: Aperture Foundation (547 West 27th Street, 4th Floor, Chelsea, Manhattan)

This exhibition takes to heart the idea that the masses of people incarcerated, in addition to everything else they lack, are also bereft of dignity — particularly in the ways they are portrayed publicly. Photographers use a variety of methods — everyday snapshots, landscapes, documentary photos borrowed from archives, and even image transfers rendered on bars of soap — to begin to subtly distinguish the individual subjects, so they are not relegated to simply being prisoners. With care, the show aims to move the viewer’s perceptions of these people beyond stereotype.

Danh Vo: Take My Breath Away

When: February 9–May 9
Where: Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (1071 5th Ave, Upper East Side, Manhattan) 

In 2014, the Vietnam-born Danish artist Danh Vo installed full-scale copper replicas of sections of the Statue of Liberty around New York City, effectively abstracting the most iconic sculpture in the world — and one of the most potent symbols of US mythology. This exhibition, Vo’s first US survey, brings together that project and others that seek to deconstruct and make viewers question how nationalism, colonialism, and capitalism become embedded in the objects, images, and even the activities that make up our everyday experiences. Some works are pointedly personal, like a quasi-anthropological spread of personal objects belonging to his family members, while others obliquely reference momentous geopolitical events, like a piece featuring the chandeliers that illuminated the 1973 Paris Peace Accords, which brought the Vietnam War to an end.

Pablo Helguera, “School of Panamerican Unrest Banner” (2006), installation view, AD&A Museum, UC Santa Barbara (image courtesy the 8th Floor)

The Schoolhouse and the Bus

When: February 9–May 12
Where: The 8th Floor (17 West 17th Street, Chelsea, Manhattan)

For the first time, Suzanne Lacy and Pablo Helguera are shown side by side. Helguera is part of a younger generation of socially engaged artists that has increasingly adopted Lacy’s ways of engaging passerby in public space. This exhibition compares two specific projects, one in which Helguera traveled from Alaska to South America with a portable schoolhouse, and another in which Lacy transformed a bus into a memory bank.

Tarsila do Amaral: Inventing Modern Art in Brazil

Tarsila do Amaral, “Abaporu” (1928), oil on canvas, 33 7/16 x 28 3/4 in. (Collection MALBA, Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires, © Tarsila do Amaral Licenciamentos)

When: February 11–June 3
Where: Museum of Modern Art (11 West 53rd Street, Midtown, Manhattan)

In 1928, Tarsila do Amaral painted an image of an androgynous figure with enlarged feet sitting beside a cactus and under a bright sun. The famous painting inspired the “Anthropophagus Manifesto,” which formulated the tenets of Brazilian modernity: to create art that was distinctly Brazilian. This is, astonishingly, the first exhibition in the US dedicated to Tarsila (as she is known in Brazil) and traces her influential career with 130 of her seminal artworks.

2018 Triennial: Songs for Sabotage

Daniela Ortiz, “Columbus (Colón)” (2018), ceramic and paint (photo by Benjamin Sutton/Hyperallergic)

When: February 13–May 27
Where: New Museum (235 Bowery, Lower East Side, Manhattan) 

The New Museum triennial may be the best barometer we have in New York of where contemporary art is headed, as opposed to other recurring showcases like the Whitney Biennial and MoMA PS1’s quinquennial Greater New York, which serve more of a star-making function. The co-curators of the triennial’s fourth edition — Gary Carrion-Murayari, Alex Gartenfeld, and Francesca Altamura — have brought together 30 young artists and collectives around the theme of, essentially, political engagement. This can take very different forms, from works that amount to a call to action in the vein of classic 1960s poster art, to more disruptive sculptural and performance pieces that demand a reaction from the viewer. True to form, this year’s triennial isn’t likely to leave anyone feeling ambivalent.

Kay Rosen 

When: February 22–April 7
Where: Alexander Gray Associates (510 West 26th Street, Chelsea, Manhattan)

Kay Rosen likes to play with language, splitting up words, like “PEA/COC/K.” She’ll often trick and confuse the reader, creatively bending grammar and typography, sometimes for pure fun, and often to make political commentary. Rosen’s new display will undoubtedly show how we are constantly relearning language and that words do, indeed, matter.

A Lost Future: Shezad Dawood 

When: February 23, 2018–January 28, 2019 
Where: Rubin Museum of Art (150 West 17th Street, Chelsea, Manhattan)

Three contemporary artists challenge stereotypes and put forth alternative futures for the diverse region of Bengal in this spectacular-sounding exhibition series. The first installment features the work of Shezad Dawood: a virtual reality experience of traveling through the mountains, a monastery, and more.

Golden Kingdoms: Luxury and Legacy in the Ancient Americas

When: February 28–May 28
Where: Metropolitan Museum of Art (1000 Fifth Avenue, Upper East Side, Manhattan)

This luxurious display will illuminate the long history of gold-working in the Ancient Americas, from Mayan masks to Aztec jewelry. Originating at the Getty in Los Angeles, this exhibition reveals the incredible craftsmanship of metalworking in the Americas from 1000 BCE to the age of European conquest, while delving into objects’ religious and royal origins.


Grant Wood, “Parson Weems’ Fable” (1939), oil on canvas, 38 3/8 x 50 1/8 in (Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Fort Worth, Texas 1970.43. © Figge Art Museum, successors to the Estate of Nan Wood Graham/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY)

Grant Wood: American Gothic and Other Fables

When: March 2–June 10
Where: Whitney Museum of American Art (99 Gansevoort Street, Meatpacking District, Manhattan)

Beyond his iconic “American Gothic” (1930) — which the Art Institute of Chicago is loaning to the Whitney for this major retrospective — Grant Wood was a tireless, inventive artist who portrayed an evocative, endearing, and wholesome Midwestern way of life. In addition to his best-known work and other paintings of the noble agrarian lifestyle, this exhibition will showcase his early decorative objects in the Arts and Crafts style and later murals and illustrations.

Armory Week 

When: March 7–March 11
Where: Various locations

Despite competition from the newer Frieze New York in May, the Armory Show and the spate of concurrent fairs that make up Armory Week — including NADA New York, the Independent, and Spring Break — still add up to the biggest week for contemporary art in New York City. If you want to see blue chip art in bulk, now is the time to do it, just remember that it really is a bulk experience. There’s no time (or space) for measured aesthetic contemplation, it’s all about seeing as much as you can as quickly as possible before your eyes glaze over and you can’t tell the difference anymore between the text paintings of Barbara Kruger and David Shrigley.

Hasegawa Tōhaku, “Willows in Four Seasons(Right)”” (late 16th century, Momoyama period), pair of six-panel folding screens; ink, color, and gold on paper, 58.7 x 135.4 in (London Gallery, Tokyo)

A Giant Leap: The Transformation of Hasegawa Tōhaku 

When: First rotation: March 9—April 8, 2018; second rotation: April 12—May 6, 2018
Where: Japan Society (333 East 47th Street, Midtown East, Manhattan)

Hasegawa Tōhaku’s exquisite screens of birds in golden landscapes and minimalist black trees were sought after by samurais in the 16th century. However, Hasegawa had more humble beginnings as a provincial painter. This exhibition, which will happen in two installments to protect the delicate screens, claims to present the rarely seen screen that marked the artist’s stylistic shift.

Dramatic Threads: Textiles of Asia 

Koshimaki Kosode Embroidered with Auspicious Motifs (Japan, Edo Period, 1615-1868), silk floss embroidered on nerinuki silk
(Gift of Herman A. E. Jaehne and Paul C. Jaehne, 1941 41.1335)

When: March 14, 2018–February 2019
Where: Newark Museum (49 Washington Street, Newark, New Jersey)

Drawing on the Newark Museum’s exceptional collection of Asian textiles, this exhibition brings together not only objects spanning different eras and regions (including China, Korea, Japan, Tibet, and Nepal), but also very distinct functions. Per its title, the show includes truly dramatic costumes used in theatrical productions and in the more subdued theater of politics, as well as decorative textiles, showcasing how artists in different periods and places used specific materials, colors, and processes to articulate the status (whether actual, performative, or aspirational) of the owner. The artifacts on view also reflect each region’s natural resources and access to channels of international trade through the use of local and imported materials like silk, wool, and gold.

Bordering the Imaginary: Art from the Dominican Republic, Haiti, and their Diasporas 

When: March 15–April 29
Where: BRIC (647 Fulton Street, Fort Greene, Brooklyn)

The border between Haiti and the Dominican Republic slices their shared island in two. Now a forthcoming exhibition, starting in March at BRIC, will bring them together. Featuring work from 19 Haitian and Dominican artists, Bordering the Imaginary will explore cultural connections and political divisions that cut through the island.

Osias Yanov, “VI SESIÓN EN EL PARLAMENTO” (2015), video still from performance (courtesy the artist)

Health Show II 

When: March 15–April 15
Where: A.I.R. Gallery (155 Plymouth Steet, Dumbo Brooklyn); SOHO20 Gallery (56 Bogart Street, Bushwick, Brooklyn); and Triangle Arts Association (20 Jay Street, 317 & 318, Dumbo, Brooklyn)

In February of 1994 the Women’s Caucus for Art sponsored a series of exhibitions around New York City collectively titled The Women’s Health Show. The initiative sought to draw attention to women’s health and “how women are perceived” in the US medical system. From panel discussions to video screenings, the events revealed how medical research and treatment is sexist and prejudiced against people of color. This spring, A.I.R. and SOHO20 (two spaces that participated in 1994) and the Triangle Arts Association are putting on a sequel to the show, as the topic of healthcare is as relevant as ever.

Marc Camille Chaimowicz: Your Place or Mine…

When: March 16–August 5
Where: Jewish Museum (1109 Fifth Avenue, Upper East Side, Manhattan)

Marc Camille Chaimowicz’s installations often evoke domestic spaces or clubs and bars. He immerses you in fantastic, fictional rooms that combine sculpture, video, and collage. This is Chaimowicz’s first museum exhibition in the US and will span his almost 50-year career.

The Metropolis in Latin America, 1830–1930 

When: March 22–June 30
Where: Americas Society (680 Park Avenue, Upper East Side, Manhattan)

Using a rich trove of materials, the Americas Society investigates the cultural, social, and political transformations of six Latin American capitals through their architectural landscapes. Through photographs, prints, plans, and maps, this exhibition documents and explores a century’s worth of societal transformations.

Miriam Schapiro, “Connection” (1978), found embroidered handkerchiefs and acrylic on canvas, 60 x 60 in (© 2017 Estate of Miriam Schapiro / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York Courtesy the University of Iowa Museum of Art)

Surface/Depth: The Decorative after Miriam Schapiro

When: March 22–September 2
Where: Museum of Arts and Design (2 Columbus Circle, Midtown, Manhattan)

Nearly three years after her death, this exhibition honors the legacy of Miriam Schapiro and her “femmages” — works that combine painting and collage. In addition to displaying her luminous and feminist art, the Museum of Arts and Design has selected works by various contemporary artists (including Sanford Biggers and Judy Ledgerwood) who’ve been influenced by her open embrace of crafts.


Eduardo Navarro, “Into Ourselves”(2017), A4 drawing on edible paper with edible ink (image courtesy the Drawing Center)

Eduardo Navarro: Into Our Cells 

When: April 6–22
Where: The Drawing Center (35 Wooster Street, Soho, Manhattan)

Have you ever heard of an edible drawing? Us either — which makes this exhibition worth visiting. Eduardo Navarro will place his drawings under red “heat lamps” and eventually dissolve them into an edible soup. The project is meant to illustrate the law of quantum physics, whereby nothing can ever be destroyed, only recycled. However, it remains to be seen whether this experiment is a delicious one.

Mel Chin: All Over the Place

When: April 8–August 12
Where: Queens Museum (New York City Building, Flushing Meadows Corona Park, Corona, Queens)

Mel Chin’s work defies tidy summarizing and shorthand encapsulation, but suffice to say that its most consistent and defining feature is that it is always incredibly smart and enduringly poignant. And, as a bonus, it is often quite funny, too. Take, for instance, his 2005 project “WMD,” whose ominous initials stand for Warehouse of Mass Distribution. The artwork is a full-size replica of a US Peacekeeper nuclear missile transformed into a movable tractor trailer filled with food and clothing. Other projects he’s been involved in include an alternative currency (“Fundreds”) and a collective that made contemporary art for the set of Melrose Place. Many such projects (and several new commissions) will be featured in this ambitious exhibition co-curated by Manon Slome of No Longer Empty, and former Queens Museum Director Laura Raicovich

Sandra Eleta, “Edita (la del plumero), Panamá (Edita [the one with the feather duster], Panama)” (1977), from the series La servidumbre (Servitude) (1978–79), black-and-white photograph, 19 × 19 in. (image courtesy Galería Arteconsult S.A., Panama. © Sandra Eleta)

Radical Women: Latin American Art, 1960-1985

When: April 13–July 22
Where: Brooklyn Museum (200 Eastern Parkway, Prospect Heights, Brooklyn)

This groundbreaking exhibition, which originated at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles, surveys the largely overlooked history of Latin American political women artists from 1960 to 1985 — a period marked by various South American dictatorships. After six years of research, the curators of this show bring a stunning and illuminating display of video art, photography, sculpture, and more.

Amie Cunat: Meetinghouse 

When: April 13–May 27
Where: Victori + Mo (56 Bogart Street, Bushwick, Brooklyn)

According to the Shakers, a disappearing sect of restorationist Christians, there’s something heavenly about handicraft. In Meetinghouse, named for Christian spaces that are both religious and domestic, Amie Cunat riffs on Shaker symbols by filling a bright and simple interior with handmade objects. Cunat has shown her paintings, ceramics, and installations in solo shows in New York and abroad. This one, at Victori + Mo, is a modest monument to craft. 

Tribeca Film Festival

When: April 18–29
Where: Various locations

New York City’s other major film festival (to the fall’s New York Film Festival) returns for its 16th edition with its typically enormous slate of films (short, feature-length, fiction, and non-fiction), games, talks, virtual reality projects, and more. True to the festival’s reputation for being a launchpad for excellent documentaries, its opening night film will be Love, Gilda, a documentary about the late great comedian Gilda Radner.

Harmony Hammond, “Untitled” (1995), mixed media, 74h x 82w in (image courtesy Alexander Gray Associates, New York © 2018 Harmony Hammond/Licensed by VAGA, New York)

Harmony Hammond

When: April 19–May 26
Where: Alexander Gray Associates (510 West 26th Street, Chelsea, Manhattan)

For several years now Harmony Hammond has been using the language of process-oriented art making to get at issues of feminism and queer politics. Her fascination with materiality always comes through and frequently generates objects that are not quite painting, almost sculpture, and always invigorating the space between the mediums. In this show found and repurposed objects will be key. Hammond will concentrate on the gendered body and how our expectations of it are projected onto landscapes. Of course, violence and exploitation will ensue.

Chloë Bass, “The Book of Everyday Instruction, Chapter Six: What is shared, what is offered” (2017), custom-printed disposable cup, napkin and utensils, dimensions variable (image courtesy Kalaija Mallery)

Chloë Bass: The Book of Everyday Instruction 

When: April 21–June 17
Where: Knockdown Center (52–19 Flushing Avenue, Maspeth, Queens)

Chloë Bass’s eight-part project, The Book of Everyday Instruction, looks at the concept of “the pair.” Since January 2015, she has orchestrated “pair activities” with one individual at a time (generally a stranger) to explore how we shift our behaviors when we’re alone and in company. The first chapter, for instance, consisted of the artist spending a day with a stranger and doing an activity that they would generally do with a partner; for chapter five, Bass asked participants to take her to a place they identified as a “safe space.” The exhibition at the Knockdown Center will be the first time all eight chapters are shown together.

Painted in Mexico, 1700-1790: Pinxit Mexici

When: April 24–July 22
Where: Metropolitan Museum of Art (1000 Fifth Avenue, Upper East Side, Manhattan)

This exhibition is considered to be the first to study the history of 18th-century painting in New Spain (Mexico) in depth. There will be 112 artworks, more than half of which were restored for this occasion, and together they will illustrate how painting rapidly transformed in style and subject during this period.


Frieze Week 

When: May 3–6
Where: Randall’s Island Park (Randall’s Island, Manhattan) and various other locations

The season’s second blockbuster week of art fairs centers on British import Frieze New York, which brings some 200 galleries to its airy, curvy tent on Randall Island. Though it’s about as daunting as March’s Armory Show, the bigger and generally more sparsely hung booths at Frieze mean you won’t reach your visual saturation point quite as quickly, plus the ride to Randall Island is a pleasant palate-cleanser. Concurrent with Frieze are several other fairs around town, including the tony TEFAF New York (favored by the Old Masters set), the Collective Design fair (ideal for those who like to touch prohibitively expensive things), and the always excellent 1:54 contemporary African art fair.

Stanley Kubrick, “From Life and Love on the New York City Subway” (1947) (image courtesy the Museum of the City of New York)

Through a Different Lens: Stanley Kubrick Photographs

When: Opens May 3
Where: Museum of the City of New York (1220 Fifth Avenue, East Harlem, Manhattan) 

We all know Stanley Kubrick for his movies, but less so for his photographs. This exhibition gathers 120-plus images he took when he was as young as 17, working on assignments for Look magazine, capturing the streets and nightlife of New York City. It will be a rare chance to see Kubrick’s still frames, before he set them into motion.

Wedding Ensemble, Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana for Dolce & Gabbana, spring/summer 2013 alta moda (image courtesy Dolce & Gabbana, courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, digital composite scan by Katerina Jebb)

Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination

When: May 10–October 8
Where: Metropolitan Museum of Art (1000 Fifth Avenue, Upper East Side, Manhattan)

For centuries, Catholic painters have wrapped religious figures in intricate and elegant clothing, whether gilded gowns or flowing white robes. Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination, an exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, gathers religious fashion that has accompanied and adorned and religious traditions. The objects on view will include papal robes and accessories from the Vatican. 

Maia Cruz Palileo, “Lover at Woodland Creek (Bat’s Land)” (2018), oil on canvas, 52 x 62 in (courtesy the artist)

Maia Cruz Palileo 

When: May 18–July 1
Where: Pioneer Works (159 Pioneer Street, Red Hook, Brooklyn)

Each time I’ve encountered Maia Cruz Palileo’s bright paintings I’ve been intrigued by how they reflect her family’s Filipino heritage while also obliquely commenting on the West’s exoticizing view of the Philippines and the US government’s neo-colonial relationship to it. In the new paintings she’ll be showing at Pioneer Works, she’ll turn her gaze stateside to address her family experience arriving in the US and the oral history of that migration.

Rockwell, Roosevelt, and the Four Freedoms

When: May 25–September 2
Where: New-York Historical Society (170 Central Park West, Upper West Side, Manhattan)

A monument to the “Four Freedoms,” named by President Roosevelt in 1941, sits on Roosevelt Island in the East River. Now Norman Rockwell’s artistic monument to those freedoms — freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear — will spend several months in the New-York Historical Society. They’re a historic (if somewhat heavy-handed) way to reflect on freedoms that are still threatened today. 

With contributions by Daniel Gross, Laila Pedro, Seph Rodney, Benjamin Sutton, and Elisa Wouk Almino.