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This Week: Must-See Arts in the City

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The Koran reconfigured, the changing face of William Shakespeare, an installation that combines architecture and photography and a Brooklyn-based artist who works with found images of unknown African-American figures. Not to mention crazy-looking dogs. There are some highly intriguing art shows going on in New York this week—here's our round-up of some of the best:

The Changing Face of William Shakespeare and Mannerism and Modernism: The Kasper Collection of Drawings and Photographs, at the Morgan Library There are a number of things going down at the Morgan Library in midtown, making it an excellent time to pop in and examine the goods. First on the list: the art collection of fashion designer Herbert Kasper, who collected an odd-yet-compelling mix (see the NY Times review here) of old master drawings, modernist works and contemporary photography—including the image of the spectacular snuggle-pooch at left. Also at the Library is a highly intriguing, if tiny, show dedicated to William Shakespeare. The museum is exhibiting the famous Cobbe Portrait of the dramatist, thought to be the only portrait of the Bard of Avon that was created in his lifetime. And, if that’s not enough, definitely check out the permanent collection, where some new treasures are on display—including a manuscript by Albert Einstein that explains the theory of relativity and a first edition copy of the Star Spangled Banner. This latter document should be of great consolation to Christina Aguilera: the printers misspelled “patriotic” in the subtitle. Through May 1, in Manhattan.

Lorna Simpson: Gathered, at the Brooklyn Museum On the museum’s fourth floor galleries is this charming and intriguing little show by the Brooklyn-based Simpson, who works with vintage black and white photographs of African-American figures that she acquires through eBay and flea markets. One piece is composed of an array of found photo booth imagery, full of faces that span the emotional gamut from coy to dazed, interspersed with monochromatic watercolors produced by the artist. In addition, her wall-sized installation "1957-2009 Interiors" places amateur pin-up shots along images the artist has created. It's an exhibition that toys heavily with ideas of memory—and offers a prime opportunity to view vernacular imagery through a more conceptual prism. Through August 21, in Brooklyn.

Isidro Blasco, The End of Things, at Black & White Project Space in Williamsburg This Madrid-born artist has long melded the two dimensionality of photography with the three dimensional nature of sculpture—layering bits of photographs on explosive, architectural arrangements of museum board to create pieces that seem to operate on several dimensions at once. Now he is going big, with a sprawling installation at Black & White’s outdoor project space that will allow visitors to enter and walk through the work. Should be trippy. Opens Friday at 6 P.M., in Brooklyn.

Meg Hitchcock, Obsession: The Book of Revelations from the Koran, at Famous Accountants in Bushwick Taking piecemeal work to mindblowing levels, Hitchcock has reconfigured the individual letters of a printed copy of the Koran into the Book of Revelations in a looping piece that crawls along the gallery walls, down to the floor and back onto the walls in a never-ending circle. (In her statement, she likens religious devotion and artistic expression for requiring “an ongoing commitment to an intensely laborious and often monotonous practice.”) The whole arrangement is highly intriguing, moreso because she takes one holy book’s words to craft another—a wry statement about the universal need for faith. Through March 27, in Brooklyn. Note: the gallery is only open on Sundays.

Plus: James Welling is signing copies of his new book "Glass House" at David Zwirner Gallery in Chelsea, this Saturday at 5 P.M. It’s a wonderful opportunity to check out an incredible photographic record of architect Philip Johnson’s masterpiece. Learn more about the book here.

The Black & White Gallery Project Space in Williamsburg will be showing an expansive installation by Isidro Blasco, an artist who blends photography with sculpture. Above, a view of his work 'Aerial.'
The Black & White Gallery Project Space in Williamsburg will be showing an expansive installation by Isidro Blasco, an artist who blends photography with sculpture. Above, a view of his work 'Aerial.' ( Courtesy of the artist and Black & White Gallery/Project Space )
Blasco's installation at Black & White takes his pieces off the wall and pumps them up to human scale. In this image, his 2011 site-specific work 'The End of Things.'
Blasco's installation at Black & White takes his pieces off the wall and pumps them up to human scale. In this image, his 2011 site-specific work 'The End of Things.' ( Courtesy of the artist and Black & White Gallery/Project Space )
A sculptural piece by Blasco, part of 'The End of Things' — a work from this year.
A sculptural piece by Blasco, part of 'The End of Things' — a work from this year. ( Courtesy of the artist and Black & White Gallery/Project Space )
Getting Wordy: At Famous Accounts, in Bushwick, artist Meg Hitchcock has created a labor intensive site-specific install comprised of letters that weave along the walls and the floor of the gallery.
Getting Wordy: At Famous Accounts, in Bushwick, artist Meg Hitchcock has created a labor intensive site-specific install comprised of letters that weave along the walls and the floor of the gallery. ( Courtesy of the artist and Famous Accountants )
Hitchcock used a copy of the Koran to recreate the entire text of the Book of Revelation — weaving it along the gallery walls.
Hitchcock used a copy of the Koran to recreate the entire text of the Book of Revelation — weaving it along the gallery walls. ( Courtesy of the artist and Famous Accountants )
On Your Knees Boy: Gallery goers read Hitchcock's text piece at Famous Accountants.
On Your Knees Boy: Gallery goers read Hitchcock's text piece at Famous Accountants. ( Courtesy of the artist and Famous Accountants )
The only portrait of William Shakespeare believed to have been created in his lifetime is this work, known as the Cobbe portrait (c. 1610) — now on view at the Morgan Library.
The only portrait of William Shakespeare believed to have been created in his lifetime is this work, known as the Cobbe portrait (c. 1610) — now on view at the Morgan Library. ( Collection of Archbishop Charles Cobbe (1686–1765); Cobbe Collection, Hatchlands Park. Courtesy of the Morgan Library )
It is thought that all future depictions of Shakespeare (many of which were created after his death) were based on Cobbe's depiction, such as this print, from 1623.
It is thought that all future depictions of Shakespeare (many of which were created after his death) were based on Cobbe's depiction, such as this print, from 1623. ( Purchased by Pierpont Morgan with the Toovey collection, 1899. )
At the Brooklyn Museum: In a tight little exhibit at the Sackler, artist Lorna Simpson creates works inspired by found images. Pictured here, a detail of the work '1957-2009 Interiors.'
At the Brooklyn Museum: In a tight little exhibit at the Sackler, artist Lorna Simpson creates works inspired by found images. Pictured here, a detail of the work '1957-2009 Interiors.' ( Courtesy of the artist and Salon 94, New York, via the Brooklyn Museum of Art )
A closer detail shot of Simpson's installation at the Brooklyn Museum. The show, titled 'Gathered,' also includes other works of photography and video.
A closer detail shot of Simpson's installation at the Brooklyn Museum. The show, titled 'Gathered,' also includes other works of photography and video. ( Courtesy of the artist and Salon 94, New York, via the Brooklyn Museum of Art )
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