Mary Sibande, “The Domba Dance” (2019) (image courtesy the Museum of Arts and Design)

This summer already feels different from the last couple of years. Spending time with family and friends is a welcome respite, as is experiencing art in person again across the five boroughs. Against all odds, New York’s museum and nonprofit spaces are operating at full capacity for the first time since 2019, with programs looking back on recent history and forward to challenges ahead. With the summer equinox just around the corner, we present our most anticipated exhibitions of the season.

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The Clamor of Ornament: Exchange, Power, and Joy from the 15th Century to the Present

David Kulp, “Presentation Fraktur of a Double Eagle” (c. 1815) (Gift of Ralph Esmerian, Sotheby’s, courtesy American Folk Art Museum/Art Resource, NY and the Drawing Center)

When: through September 18
Where: The Drawing Center (35 Wooster Street, Soho, Manhattan)

A new ornamental art exhibition reconsiders how decoration shapes perceptions of power and prestige. Shared lineages unfold across a sprawling set of elaborate prints, textiles, and drawings from throughout design history, subverting Euro-American notions of artistic mastery.

everything slackens in a wreck

Kelly Sinnapah Mary, “Notebook of No Return: Memories” (2022) (photo by Sebastian Bach, courtesy Ford Foundation)

When: through August 20
Where: Ford Foundation Gallery (320 East 43rd Street, Midtown East, Manhattan)

Sculptures and paintings by Margaret Chen, Andrea Chung, Wendy Nanan, and Kelly Sinnapah Mary address the rise of migrant labor after slavery, in which indentured servants from Asia were forced into similar, albeit lesser-known, forms of subjugation.

Garmenting: Costume as Contemporary Art

Installation view of Zoe Buckman, “Every Curve” at Papillon Art, Los Angeles (image courtesy the artist and the Museum of Arts and Design)

When: through August 14
Where: Museum of Arts and Design (2 Columbus Circle, Hell’s Kitchen, Manhattan)

A contemporary survey of avant-garde costuming details its continued political relevance. Designs by 35 living artists show how the art form challenges normative conceptions of race, class, and gender all over the world.

Billie Holiday at Sugar Hill: Photographs by Jerry Dantzic

Billie Holiday holding her pet Chihuahua, Pepi, in front of Sugar Hill, Newark, New Jersey, April 18, 1957 (photo by Jerry Dantzic, courtesy Newark Museum of Art/Cultural Counsel)

When: through August 21
Where: Newark Museum of Art (49 Washington Street, Newark, New Jersey)

New York photojournalist Jerry Dantzic captured Lady Day’s residency at a Newark, New Jersey nightclub in 1957. His archives, part of the Newark Museum’s larger summer program on jazz history, portray the public and private labor that the legendary singer put into her short but triumphant career.

Angela Miskis: It’s a Luxury to Look Back

Angela Miskis, “Nine Years to Say Goodbye” (2022) (image courtesy Jamaica Center for Arts and Learning)

When: June 30–July 29
Where: Jamaica Center for Arts and Learning (161-4 Jamaica Avenue, Jamaica, Queens)

The Ecuadorian artist and community organizer presents more than 50 mixed-media works that transform recycled materials into colorful, nostalgic abstractions — a process she developed during her family’s migration to Southeast Queens.

Like the Waters We Rise

Installation view, Like the Waters We Rise (image courtesy Molly Garfinkel and Raquel de Anda)

When: through September 1
Where: City Lore (56 East 1st Street, East Village, Manhattan)

Climate justice is not just about shifting brand aesthetics, as some would have us believe. Accordingly, City Lore’s latest exhibition collects recent print media made by Indigenous water protectors with images of activists at rallies over the last few years, intertwining creative labor with the direct action it inspires.

Carla Zaccagnini: Accounts of Accounting

Carla Zaccagnini, still from “Película hablada (Spoken movie)” (2017–2019) (image courtesy Cultural Counsel and Amant)

When: through August 21
Where: Amant (315 Maujer Street, Williamsburg, Brooklyn)

Zaccagnini’s deconstructions of Latin American iconography look like vast constellations of decolonial history. Her latest at Amant allows us to connect the dots between personal, identity-based trauma and universal forms of suffering under capitalism.

Title IX: Activism On and Off the Field

“Five Duke University Students March in ‘Take Back the Night’ Protest” (1987) (photo by Peter Aman for the Duke Chronicle, courtesy New-York Historical Society)

When: through September 4
Where: New-York Historical Society (170 Central Park West, Upper West Side, Manhattan)

As we redefine the meaning of womanhood in sports, New-York Historical Society hearkens to the first constitutional amendment banning sex-based discrimination, displaying photographs and archival materials from the feminist groups who made it possible.

Stephanie Dinkins, Suzanne Lacy, Christine Sun Kim

Christine Sun Kim, “Time Owes Me Rest Again” (2022) (photo by Hai Zhang, courtesy Queens Museum)

When: through August 14
Where: Queens Museum (New York City Building, Flushing Meadows Corona Park, Queens)

Three contemporaneous exhibitions by Stephanie Dinkins, Suzanne Lacy, and Christine Sun Kim question how art and media reshape public spaces over time. Dinkins and Lacy accomplish this through data-driven video installations and experimental performance archives, while Kim’s mural around the Panorama of New York City silently signals fatigue with COVID-era ableism.

Chroma: Ancient Sculpture in Color

Column-Krater attributed to the Group of Boston (c. 360–350 BCE), Greek, South Italian, Apulian; Late Classical (image courtesy the Metropolitan Museum of Art)

When: July 5–March 26, 2023
Where: The Metropolitan Museum of Art (1000 Fifth Avenue, Upper East Side, Manhattan)

The Met’s latest exhibition dedicated to Greek and Roman sculptural history analyzes the rhetorical uses of color, or “polychromy.” Employing 3D imaging techniques, curators developed new restorative methods to simulate how ancient art appeared in its time, placing reproductions alongside originals to exemplify the aging process.

Life Between Buildings

“Photograph of Bowery Houston Community Farm and Garden (currently known as Liz Christy Community Garden)” (c. 1975) (image courtesy William Brunson)

When: through January 16, 2023
Where: MoMA PS1 (22-25 Jackson Avenue, Long Island City, Queens)

MoMA PS1’s summer exhibition details how artists and collectives have historically used New York City’s public spaces to build community organizations. Works from the 1970s to today detail efforts to occupy what dwindling spaces remain in the real estate capital of the world, from gardens and greenhouses to sidewalks and empty lots.

F*CK ART: THE BODY & ITS ABSENCE

Motoko Ishibashi, “Thank You, Enjoy” (2021). Courtesy the artist and Museum of Sex.

When: through October 11
Where: Museum of Sex (233 Fifth Avenue, Midtown, Manhattan)

With kink at Pride debates in full swing once again, the Museum of Sex is hosting an updated version of its 2012 group exhibition on sexual expression in public spaces. Featuring mixed-media works by 18 living artists, F*CK ART reframes desire and erotica as tables stakes issues in mainstream discourse, made possible by artists existing outside gender and sexual norms.

BLACK VENUS

Ayana V. Jackson, “Anarcha” (2017). Courtesy the artist and Mariane Ibrahim.

When: through August 21
Where: Fotografiska (281 Park Avenue South, Flatiron, Manhattan)

Fotografiska’s latest group show on Black femininity develops a narrative of subjugation and self-ownership. Works from the last two centuries reveal how Euro-American fetishization led to racialized caricatures of African women, followed by post-abolition agency and futurist empowerment.

Lydia Ourahmane: Tassili

Installation view of Lydia Ourahmane, “Tassili” (2022) (photo by Charles Benton, courtesy SculptureCenter)

When: through August 1
Where: SculptureCenter (44-19 Purves Street, Long Island City, Queens)

Ourahmane’s latest body of work draws influence from the remote desert region of Tassili n’Ajjer, located between Libya and Algeria. Filmed on-site and projected onto massive screens, these hulking installations produce dramatic, larger-than-life effects that shift with time and perspective.

Black Melancholia, Martine Syms: Grio College

Martine Syms, “Ugly Plymouths” (2020) (courtesy the artist, Sadie Coles, and Bridget Donahue, NYC)

When: through October 16, November 27
Where: Center for Curatorial Studies Bard / Hessel Museum of Art (33 Garden Road, Annandale-on-Hudson, New York)

A group exhibition at Bard College highlights African diasporic resilience through different expressions of grief. Concurrently, the Hessel Museum presents a vast multimedia study by contemporary artist Martine Syms, whose mesmerizing video installations build new worlds from the ashes.

Performing Documents: Modes of Assembling

Aarati Akkapeddi, still from “I knew that if I walked in your footsteps, it would become a ritual” (2020-2022) (image courtesy the Center for Book Arts)

When: July 15–September 24
Where: Center for Book Arts (28 West 27th Street, Chelsea, Manhattan)

With internet ephemera disappearing by the day, the Center for Book Arts celebrates modern-day archivists of print and digital media working with online data scraping, machine learning, interview recording, and video techniques. Performing Documents positions the act of collecting as a form of resistance against digital displacement.

Eva Hesse: Expanded Expansion

Detail from “Eva Hesse in Her Bowery Studio, New York” (c. 1966) (courtesy SRGF, the Estate of Eva Hesse, and Hauser & Wirth)

When: July 8–October 16
Where: Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (1071 Fifth Avenue, Upper East Side, Manhattan)

A new Hesse exhibition leans into the Post-Minimalist sculptor’s flair for the absurd, which she often used to critique traditional formalism. Guggenheim curators restored her well-known accordion piece, “Expanded Expansion” (1969), displayed publicly for the first time in 35 years. Visitors are also given a rare look into the artist’s working and living space through unedited footage captured on film by Dorothy Beskind.

Leslie Hewitt

Leslie Hewitt, “Untitled (Landmark)” (2021). Courtesy the artist and Dia Art Foundation.

When: June 24–June 5, 2023
Where: Dia Bridgehampton (23 Corwith Avenue, Bridgehampton, New York)

A new installation at Dia’s Long Island outpost brings Hewitt’s fragmentary, minimalist collages into conversation with soundscapes by Jamal Cyrus, resulting in a multisensory experience throughout the repurposed home and outdoor space.

Dakota Modern: The Art of Oscar Howe

Oscar Howe, “Umine Dance” (1958) (image courtesy Garth  Greenan  Gallery, New York and the National Museum of the American Indian, New York)

When: through September 11
Where: National Museum of the American Indian (1 Bowling Green, Financial District, Manhattan)

A retrospective of Yanktonai Dakota painter Oscar Howe (1915–1983) positions him among the foremost Indigenous modernists. Paintings and drawings point to his rejection of industry conformity, as well as his uplifting of Oceti Sakowin symbolism both figuratively and abstractly.

Raphael Montañez Ortiz: A Contextual Retrospective

Raphael Montañez Ortiz, “The Memorial to the Sadistic Holocaust Destruction of Millions of Our Ancient Arawak-Taino-Latinx Ancestors Begun in 1492 by Columbus and His Mission to, With the Conquistadores, Colonize and Deliver to Spain the Wealth of the New World No Matter the Human Cost to the New Worlds Less Than Human Aborigine Inhabitants…” (2019-2020) (photo by Martin Seck, courtesy El Museo del Barrio)

When: through September 11
Where: El Museo del Barrio (1230 Fifth Avenue, Upper East Side, Manhattan)

A co-founder of El Museo, Ortiz has dabbled in nearly every major movement of contemporary visual art, from Dada and Abstract Expressionism to Conceptualism and Post-Minimalism. Now 88, his latest retrospective spans this range of production from the 1950s to the present.

Analog City: NYC B.C. (Before Computers)

Arthur Rothstein and Earl Theisen, “Women Working at the Stock Exchange” (1951) (image courtesy Cowles Magazines, Inc. and the Museum of the City of New York)

When: through December 31
Where: Museum of the City of New York (1220 Fifth Avenue, Upper East Side, Manhattan)

Analog City examines the pre-digital history of New York through objects and artworks. Spanning the 1870s to 1970s, the show displays vernacular photographs of office workers before the invention of computers alongside preserved pieces of old technology, including the last working phone booth in the city.

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Billy Anania

Billy Anania is an editor, critic, and journalist in New York City whose work focuses on political economy in the cultural industries and the history of art in global liberation movements.