This month, beat the New York humidity with a trip to some of the summer’s most anticipated exhibitions (all of which are delightfully temperature controlled). From retrospectives devoted to Shahzia Sikander, Lynn Hershman Leeson, and Wardell Milan, to a tribute to the legendary (but little documented) Sapphire Show, there’s plenty to see.
Keep the (HEPA-filtered) air flowing.
—Dessane Lopez Cassell
Lynn Hershman Leeson: Twisted
When: through October 3
Where: New Museum (235 Bowery, Lower East Side, Manhattan)
Somehow, Twisted is the first New York museum solo show dedicated to Lynn Hershman Leeson, a new media art progenitor who has been reliably ahead of her time since the ‘60s. Spanning five decades and media ranging from collage to net art, the works on view pose questions about modern-day, mediated selfhood, probing cutting-edge technologies such as cloning and artificial intelligence. Highlights include the San Francisco-based artist’s celebrated durational performance piece “Roberta Breitmore” (1972–79), in which she privately played a fictional character for years, and her multimedia installation “Infinity Engine” (2014–ongoing), a functional replica of a genetics lab.
Wardell Milan: Amerika. God Bless You If It’s Good To You
When: through October 24
Where: Bronx Museum of the Arts (1040 Grand Concourse, the Bronx)
In this major museum presentation, Harlem-based artist Wardell Milan explores the banality and embedded nature of evil in a country built upon structural racism and white supremacy, as well as the resilience and persistence of marginalized groups in the face of lived trauma. The artist, who is perhaps best known for his collages, presents a series of mixed media collages that incorporate boxing imagery; new works on paper and a plaster sculpture that contemplate the everyday lives of white nationalists; and a series of performances titled 5 Indices on a Tortured Body, choreographed in collaboration with Zachary Tye Richardson with sculptures designed by Billy Ray Morgan.
Shahzia Sikander: Extraordinary Realities
When: through September 26
Where: the Morgan Library & Museum (225 Madison Avenue, Murray Hill, Manhattan)
Extraordinary Realities offers a window onto Shahzia Sikander’s longstanding practice of contemporizing traditional Indo-Persian manuscript paintings and miniatures. The exhibition, which will travel to the RISD Museum in November, features work spanning fifteen years of the Pakistani-American artist’s career, from intricate watercolors on tea-stained paper that she made as a student in Lahore, to recent works including a large-scale tracing paper installation and the artist’s first freestanding sculpture. Recordings of Sikander discussing individual works are also available on the Morgan’s website.
When: through August 3
Where: David Zwirner (525 West 19th Street, Chelsea, Manhattan and 34 East 69th Street, Upper East Side, Manhattan)
Held on the fortieth anniversary of the CDC’s first report on AIDS, this series of solo shows centers the perspective of gay male artists who died from the disease in the period between the late ‘80s and early ‘00s. At the gallery’s downtown location, posters, ephemera, and photographs related to the Silence = Death Project and AIDS activism are on view along with Marlon Riggs’s experimental documentary Tongues Untied (1989) and Derek Jarman’s final feature film Blue (1993), accompanied by several paintings by Jarman. Uptown is an exhibition of photographs by Mark Morrisroe, curated by photographer Ryan McGinley, who lost his brother to AIDS.
The Other Art Fair Brooklyn
When: July 22–25
Where: Brooklyn Expo Center (72 Noble Street, Greenpoint, Brooklyn)
Slowly but surely, art fairs are starting to reemerge. This year’s edition of the Other Art Fair, a roving annual event presented by Saatchi Art, which focuses on showcasing affordable works by emerging and independent artists, offers a chance to dip your toes back into collecting (or just browsing) in person. Highlights include the New Futures program (a special presentation of work by emerging artists, selected by a jury to receive free exhibition space and mentorship opportunities), and an abstraction-focused pop-up from ArTech Collective, a Bronx-based community arts center.
Engraved into the Body & Karyn Olivier: At the Intersection of Two Faults
When: both through July 30
Where: Tanya Bonakdar Gallery (521 West 21 Street, Chelsea, Manhattan)
This month, there are two particularly exciting shows worth checking out at Tanya Bonakdar Gallery. Engraved into the Body, jointly presented by the gallery and the Rio de Janeiro-based Fortes D’Aloia & Gabriel, reframes the photographic archive of the Teatro Experimental do Negro (Black Experimental Theater), the radical, working-class theater troupe founded by Abdias Nascimento, a prominent Black artist, politician, and scholar. Here the archive is presented alongside works by both emerging and established Brazilian artists, charting the long legacy of artists engaging with themes pertaining to identity, race, and the body. Also worth a visit is At the Intersection of Two Faults, Karyn Olivier’s first solo exhibition with the gallery. The presentation features a wide range of sculptures and prints made from found and industrial materials, including the monumental “FORTIFIED” (2018–2020), which pushes the viewer to ponder themes of loss, instability, and borders.
You’ve Come a Long Way Baby: The Sapphire Show
When: through July 31
Where: Ortuzar Projects (9 White Street, Tribeca, Manhattan)
For six days in 1970, in response to a corporate exhibition of work by Black artists that included only one woman, the experimental artist-run space Gallery 32 held the Sapphire Show, the first Los Angeles survey dedicated solely to Black women artists. With You’ve Come A Long Way, Baby, Ortuzar Projects revisits rather than recreates this historic show — which remains undocumented aside from an extant flyer. This tribute presents 29 works made between 1966 and the present day by the six original Sapphire Show participants, including Suzanne Jackson, who ran Gallery 32, and Betye Saar.
Huguette Caland: Tête-à-Tête
When: through September 19
Where: The Drawing Center (35 Wooster Street, Soho, Manhattan)
Over the course of five decades of artmaking, during which she resided in locales from Beirut to Paris to Southern California, Huguette Caland produced a diverse body of work that was unified by its emphasis on organic linework and joyful erotics. Mounted two years after her death, this survey show features over 100 drawings and paintings by the Lebanese artist, many of which depict playfully abstracted body parts at close range, as well as sculptures, notebooks, and the caftans that she designed and wore, hung here on unconventional mannequins.
Igshaan Adams, Veld Wen
When: through July 30
Where: Casey Kaplan (121 West 27th Street, Chelsea, Manhattan)
Titled after an Afrikaans phrase meaning “to gain ground,” Veld Wen presents ten wall-mounted tapestries and five hanging sculptures by Igshaan Adams, a Cape Town-based artist who navigates his cultural and religious contexts across weavings, installations, and performance. The tapestries, which combine materials as varied as wood beads, nylon rope, and silver and gold chains, take their design from pieces of linoleum flooring excavated from his neighbors’ homes, while the nebulous suspended sculptures, constructed from wire fencing and material found around the studio, are inspired by the Indigenous Riel dance that he witnessed his grandparents perform.
When: through January 2022
Where: Dia: Chelsea (537 West 22nd Street, Chelsea, Manhattan)
For its reopening after a major renovation and expansion, Dia presents new commissions by Lucy Raven, a multidisciplinary artist whose work explores industry and infrastructure in the American West, riffing on Land Art. The West Gallery is occupied by a large, shaped screen displaying Ready Mix (2021), an elegant 45-minute black-and-white film shot in Idaho that portrays the processes behind common ready-mix concrete. In the East Gallery, check out two kinetic sculptures from the artist’s Casters series, with customized steel armatures inspired by rotocasters, which emit roving beams of light.