Art Rx

This week, the doctor’s prescription comes in the form of the theme: arty encounters with the everyday. From the assemblages of B. Wurtz, who repurposes shopping bags, socks, and more, to the photographs of Bern and Hilla Becher, which explore the visual characteristics of ordinary, industrial buildings, the doctor wants you to shake things up and shake off the art-world bubble.

Help research and write a report on the economics of US cultural production at the Invisible Dog in Cobble Hill, or discover vintage African photographs from the 20th century at the Walther Collection in Chelsea. If you’re in need of inspiration, head to the Guggenheim, where you can listen to artist Danh Vo discuss mining the collection of objects and possessions left behind by artist Martin Wong. You can also contemplate that most bland and ubiquitous of cultural phenomena — middlebrow — along with a cadre of critics at the New School, or ponder the effect of the nefarious and equally ubiquitous Body Mass Index at the Brooklyn Museum. The doctor has lots of options for you this week, and she promises you won’t go wrong with any of them.

B. Wurtz, "Untitled" (2009), plastic bags, acrylic paint, string, canvas, 75 x 90 x 1 inches (image via
B. Wurtz, “Untitled” (2009), plastic bags, acrylic paint, string, canvas, 75 x 90 x 1 inches (image via

 The Objects of Others

When: Tuesday, March 19, 6:30 pm ($12)
Where: Guggenheim Museum (1071 Fifth Avenue, Upper East Side, Manhattan)

Artist Danh Vo is not only the ninth winner of the Hugo Boss Prize; he’s also, over the course of several years, had the chance to explore the collection of widely celebrated downtown artist Martin Wong, who died in 1999. For his Hugo Boss exhibition at the Guggenheim, Vo has created an installation made up of objects from Wong’s collection. Tonight, in what should be a great conversation, he’ll talk about that, as well as his own artistic practice, with artist and writer Julie Ault and Peter Broda, who cofounded the Museum of American Graffiti with Wong.

 Exhibition Outer Space

When: Opens Wednesday, March 20, 6–8 pm
Where: Apex Art (291 Church Street, Tribeca, Manhattan)

Outer space may be on its way to becoming just one more exhibition venue these days, what with the cancelation of the manned space program while artists are launching pictures into space and NASA is beaming up the Mona Lisa with lasers. But there was a time when we were in the business of exploring and obsessing over space, and artist and writer Greg Allen is focusing on that era, the days of the Space Race, in the upcoming exhibition that he’s curated at Apex Art. Exhibition Space considers “a sudden transition in mankind’s perception of outer space” — a subject that will no doubt need revisiting another 50 years from now.

 What Is Middlebrow?

When: Wednesday, March 20, 6:30 pm
Where: The New School, Eugene Lang Building (65 West 11th St, 5th floor, Greenwich Village, Manhattan)

An all-star line-up of critics will consider the ever-nebulous concept of middlebrow at the New School this Wednesday. Does it still exist? What of “high-end television” and “accessible literary fiction”? Is cultural leveling good or bad? Ruth Franklin (The New Republic), Daniel Mendelsohn (The New Yorker), Christine Smallwood (author, former associate editor at The Nation) and Jennifer Szalai (former senior editor at Harper’s) will discuss all this and more. Moderated by Harper’s associate editor Christopher Beha. —AW

 Encounters with the Everyday

When: Opens Thursday, March 21, 6–8 pm
Where: Metro Pictures (519 West 24th Street, Chelsea, Manhattan)

Over the span of his 40-year career, B. Wurtz has been a collector of common objects such as yogurt lids, plastic bags, scrap wood, and socks. He creates understated assemblages that are made  by repurposing these materials formally, using mostly placement and gravity to arrive at finished forms. Many of these pieces avert representation or meaning and can be seen simply as a series of thoughtful encounters with the everyday. —KP

 Vintage African Archive

When: Opens Thursday, March 21, 6–8 pm
Where: The Walther Collection Project Space (526 West 26th Street, #718, Chelsea, Manhattan)

On Thursday, the Walther Collection Project Space opens the third and final part of its fantastic exhibition series, Distance and Desire: Encounters with the African Archive. Focusing on photography from southern Africa, the shows thus far have been illuminating in their complexity, combining ethnographic visions of the region with contemporary ones and offering views of both real people and modes of identity construction. Part III: Poetics and Politics will feature vintage portraits, books, albums, postcards, and cartes de visite from the 1870s to the early twentieth century.

Bernd and Hilla Becher, "Gas Tanks" (1983–92) (image via
Bernd and Hilla Becher, “Gas Tanks” (1983–92) (image via

 Art from Archeology

When: Opens Friday, March 22, 6–8 pm
Where: Paula Cooper Gallery (512 West 21st Street, Chelsea, Manhattan)

At Paula Cooper, Justin Matherly will be exhibiting a series of sculptures and monoprints based on monuments from Nemrud Dagi. A small temple/tomb in Turkey, Nemrud Dagi was dedicated to the late Hellenistic king Antiochus I of Commagene. Using materials he’s known for, like poured concrete and metal walkers, Matherly reflects on this site and offers a contemporary adaptation of classical Greek and Roman sculpture. Much of the work in the show is inspired by “dexiosis,” a hand-clasp gesture meant to signify the king’s passage into the afterworld that’s featured prominently throughout the ancient site. —KP

 Body Mass Index

When: Saturday, March 23, 2 pm
Where: Brooklyn Museum (200 Eastern Parkway, Prospect Heights, Brooklyn)

We know the impact of the ridiculous beauty standards of Fifth Avenue and glossy magazine covers, but what about the Body Mass Index (BMI)? The number doctors and nutritionists use as an indication of body fat in relation to weight and height may have more unhealthy long-term effects than healthful ones. Artists Laura Span and Monica Ong, along with Sayantani DasGupta, a professor of pediatrics, will discuss this longstanding measurement and its implications vis á vis feminism and art. —AW

 The Brooklyn Commune

When: Sunday, March 24, 2–6 pm
Where: The Invisible Dog (51 Bergen Street, Cobble Hill, Brooklyn)

As an introduction to this commune/research project/creative collaboration, Culturebot and the Invisible Dog offer a quote by art writer and business teacher Amy Whitaker: “What if we look at economics as a collective creative design problem?” In an attempt to answer that, and to investigate the economics of cultural production in this country, the two organizations are teaming up to create the Brooklyn Commune. The commune will consist of four public research sessions, the first one this Sunday, and culminate in a congress in October and the publication of a document that will be part research report, part manifesto for the future.

 Artists on Artists: Bernd & Hilla Becher

When: Monday, March 25, 6:30 pm ($6)
Where: Dia:Chelsea (535 West 22nd Street, 5th floor, Chelsea, Manhattan)

Los Angeles–based artist and teacher Shannon Ebner will speak on the work of German husband-and-wife artistic duo Bernd and Hilla Becher, known for their typological photographs that explore the technical details of — and seem to give personalities to — buildings. This talk is part of Dia’s Artists on Artists lecture series, established in 2001 to let contemporary artists give their take on admired works of art by their peers. —JDS

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With listings by Kyle Petreycik, JD Siazon, and Arianne Wack

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