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20 Art Exhibitions to View in N.Y.C. This Weekend | Press "Enter" to skip to content

20 Art Exhibitions to View in N.Y.C. This Weekend

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‘TAKING SHAPE: ABSTRACTION FROM THE ARAB WORLD, 1950S-1980S’ at Grey Art Gallery (through April 4). The graphic simplicity of the Arabic alphabet means that it can be made to look like almost anything, from a rearing horse to a pixelated television screen. Most of the artists in this exhibition had some European or American training, and alongside unusual sandy palettes and a few unexpected details, you’ll see plenty of approaches that look familiar: lucid colors à la Josef Albers, crimson bursts of impasto similar to early Abstract Expressionism. But unlike European artists, they also have an alphabet with an ancient history in visual art — and this gives their abstraction a very different effect. (Heinrich)
212-998-6780, greyartgallery.nyu.edu

‘T. REX: THE ULTIMATE PREDATOR’ at the American Museum of Natural History (through Aug. 9). Everyone’s favorite 18,000-pound prehistoric killer gets the star treatment in this eye-opening exhibition, which presents the latest scientific research on T. rex and also introduces many other tyrannosaurs, some discovered only in this century in China and Mongolia. T. rex evolved mainly during the Cretaceous period to have keen eyes, spindly arms and massive conical teeth, which packed a punch that has never been matched by any other creature; the dinosaur could even swallow whole bones, as affirmed here by a kid-friendly display of fossilized excrement. The show mixes 66-million-year-old teeth with the latest 3-D prints of dino bones, and presents new models of T. rex as a baby, a juvenile and a full-grown annihilator. Turns out this most savage beast was covered with — believe it! — a soft coat of beige or white feathers. (Farago)
212-769-5100, amnh.org

‘VIDA AMERICANA: MEXICAN MURALISTS REMAKE AMERICAN ART, 1925-1945’ at the Whitney Museum of American Art (through May 17). This exhibition, which fills the Whitney’s fifth floor, represents a decade of hard thought and labor, and that effort has paid off. The show is stupendous, and complicated, and lands right on time. Just by existing, it does three vital things: It reshapes a stretch of art history to give credit where credit is due. It suggests that the Whitney is, at last, on the way to fully embracing “American art.” And it offers yet another argument for why the build-the-wall mania that has obsessed this country for the past three-plus years just has to go. Judging by the story told here, we should be actively inviting our southern neighbor northward to enrich our cultural soil. (Cotter)
212-570-3600, whitney.org

‘WORLDS BEYOND EARTH’ at the American Museum of Natural History’s Hayden Planetarium (ongoing). This new space show is a bit like being thrown out of your own orbit. Surrounded by brilliant colors, the viewer glides through space in all directions, unbound by conventional rules of orientation or vantage point. Dizzying spirals delineate the orbits of Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars. At one point, museumgoers are taken along a journey from the perspective of a comet. In illustrating the far reaches of our solar system, the show draws on data from seven sets of space missions from NASA, Europe and Japan, including the Apollo 15 mission in 1971 and still-active ones like Voyager. With a sense of movement and scale that only a visual presentation could convey, “Worlds Beyond Earth” makes an unforced point about the dangers of climate change. Another celestial body might have an “alien sea” that “contains more liquid water than all the oceans on Earth,” as its narrator, Lupita Nyong’o, states. But Earth itself, she adds later, is the only place with the right size, the right location and the right ingredients — an easy balance to upset. (Kenigsberg)
212-769-5100, amnh.org

‘AGNES DENES: ABSOLUTES AND INTERMEDIATES’ at the Shed (through March 22). We’ll be lucky this art season if we get another exhibition as tautly beautiful as this long-overdue Denes retrospective. Now 88, the artist is best known for her 1982 “Wheatfield: A Confrontation,” for which she sowed and harvested two acres of wheat on Hudson River landfill within sight of the World Trade Center and the Statue of Liberty. Her later ecology-minded work has included creating a hilltop forest of 11,000 trees planted by 11,000 volunteers in Finland (each tree is deeded to the planter), though many of her projects exist only in the form of the exquisite drawings that make up much of this show. (Cotter)
646-455-3494, theshed.org

‘ZILIA SÁNCHEZ: SOY ISLA (I AM AN ISLAND)’ at El Museo del Barrio (through March 22). Sánchez, who will turn 94 this summer and is still at work, has spent some 50 years making abstract yet sensual sculptural paintings, approximately 40 of which are gathered here to lead the viewer through her career. While modern art has a firmly established tradition of objects that simultaneously hang on the wall and jut into space, Sánchez does something different. “Lunar con Tatuaje” (“Moon With Tattoo”), one of her most elaborate pieces, features two semicircular canvases with raised half-moons in the middle. Frenzied groups of lines arc between various points, accompanied by arrows and an occasional eye or hand. The picture isn’t legible, but it calls forth a kind of cosmic knowledge. Such is the duality and lesson of Sánchez’s art: It’s grounded in the material world but points toward something metaphysical. (Jillian Steinhauer)
212-831-7272, elmuseo.org


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