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This Week: Must-See Arts in the City

WNYC's Arts Datebook: May 19 - 25

Thursday, May 19, 2011 - 12:00 AM

WNYC
'The Whore of Babylon Dresses the Part,' at the Morgan Library — part of the museum's examination of medieval fashion in illuminated manuscripts of the period. Divine! (The Morgan Library & Museum)

Medieval fashion in illuminated manuscripts at the Morgan, Nancy Grossman's S&M heads at MoMA PS1, declassified images of the destruction wrought by Hiroshima at the I.C.P. and a fresh look at a 15th century painting of St. Francis at The Frick. There's some amazing arts stuff going down in New York City this week. Here's our guide to what's tops:

Illuminating Fashion: Dress in the Art of Medieval France and the Netherlands at the Morgan Library & Museum The 200 years leading up to the Renaissance were a period of incredible change for northern European fashion — when simple, form-fitting frocks gave way to elaborately printed gowns, luxe robes and a variety of downright architectural headgear. In what promises to be a seriously wild exhibit (Alexander McQueen had nothing on the Whore of Babylon as depicted by Loyset Liédet, at left), the museum has gathered more than 50 surreal and bizarre illuminated manuscripts that chronicle this important period of design. Note to cognoscenti: Always don the finery when riding a seven-headed, web-footed monster. Opens Friday, in Manhattan.

Nancy Grossman: Heads at PS1 in Long Island City In what promises to be an amazingly sadomasochistic show, MoMA PS1 is displaying 14 of Grossman’s infamous head sculptures: wood carvings of (male?) figures who have had their faces layered in shining black leather and a suffocating array of straps and harnesses. These mysterious, unsettling portraits feature humans with obscured eyes, mouths sewn shut and skulls held firmly into place by studded harnesses -- tributes to power (or a lack thereof) that should leave the viewer gasping. Opens Sunday, in Queens.

Elliott Erwitt: Personal Best and Hiroshima: Ground Zero, 1945 at the International Center of Photography (I.C.P.) There’s a couple of goodies opening at the I.C.P. this week, making a trip to Midtown very worthwhile. First up: a major retrospective by photographer and filmmaker Elliott Erwitt, a shooter known for iconic images of overdressed dogs on walks, and a couple snuggling within the frame of a rearview mirror. But expect a few surprises, too — coy young marrieds, segregated fountains and a row of ladies clucking at a gentleman without his choners. Also at the museum: a powerful reminder of the devastating power of the bomb. Hiroshima: Ground Zero, 1945 is comprised of images snapped by photographers in the employ of the U.S. government to document the extent of the destruction wrought by the atomic attack at the end of World War II. Once classified, many of these ghostly frames show a city in tatters -- eerie precursors of the footage coming out of Japan in the wake of the tsunami. Opens Friday, in Manhattan.

In New Light: Bellini’s St. Francis in the Desert at The Frick Collection Created by Giovanni Bellini sometime in 1480, the painting "St. Francis in the Desert" shows the saint standing outside his mountainside monastic cell, at the moment he is about to receive the stigmata. The painting is remarkable for numerous reasons — because of the realistic ways in which the landscape is depicted and because St. Francis is shown in a more naturalistic guise, without halos or other symbols of divinity. Recently, an international team of experts came together to study the work (complete with infrared scans), to better understand its meaning and the artist’s process. This weekend, the team’s findings (along with Bellini’s masterpiece) will go on display at The Frick. It's a great opportunity to get reacquainted with a treasured work. Opens Sunday, in Manhattan.

Magnum photographer Elliott Erwitt gets a retrospective at the International Center of Photography. Seen here: A pair of New Hampshire newlyweds shot in 1958.
© Elliott Erwitt/Magnum Photos
Magnum photographer Elliott Erwitt gets a retrospective at the International Center of Photography. Seen here: A pair of New Hampshire newlyweds shot in 1958.
Dressed to kill: Pooches on the prowl in New York City in 1974, courtesy of Erwitt.
© Elliott Erwitt/Magnum Photos
Dressed to kill: Pooches on the prowl in New York City in 1974, courtesy of Erwitt.
One of Erwitt's most iconic images: This photograph of a smooching couple, taken in Santa Monica, Calif. in 1955.
© Elliott Erwitt/Magnum Photos
One of Erwitt's most iconic images: This photograph of a smooching couple, taken in Santa Monica, Calif. in 1955.
'North Carolina,' taken in 1950 — Erwitt's show covers topics from the historic to the mundane.
© Elliott Erwitt/Magnum Photos
'North Carolina,' taken in 1950 — Erwitt's show covers topics from the historic to the mundane.
A group of ladies survey the merchandise in Erwitt's shot, 'Bakersfield, California,' snapped in 1983.
© Elliott Erwitt/Magnum Photos
A group of ladies survey the merchandise in Erwitt's shot, 'Bakersfield, California,' snapped in 1983.
At MoMA PS1, Nancy Grossman's leather-clad heads, carved from the soft wood of telephone poles. Shown here: 'T.Y.V.L.,' a sculpture from 1970.
ollection of halley k harrisburg and Michael Rosenfeld
At MoMA PS1, Nancy Grossman's leather-clad heads, carved from the soft wood of telephone poles. Shown here: 'T.Y.V.L.,' a sculpture from 1970.
Grossman plays with ideas of gender, frequently referring to the heads as self-portraits. 'T.O.K.,' crafted from 1969 to '70, is shown above.
Courtesy of Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, LLC, New York, NY
Grossman plays with ideas of gender, frequently referring to the heads as self-portraits. 'T.O.K.,' crafted from 1969 to '70, is shown above.
Bellini's 'St. Francis in the Desert' gets a fresh look at The Frick. Though rife with symbolism, the painting is renowned for its naturalistic depictions of the Saint and the surrounding landscape.
The Frick Collection, New York Photo: Michael Bodycomb
Bellini's 'St. Francis in the Desert' gets a fresh look at The Frick. Though rife with symbolism, the painting is renowned for its naturalistic depictions of the Saint and the surrounding landscape.
At the Morgan Library: Some killer medieval fashion. Shown here, Salome decked out in a body-hugging number to oversee the decapitation of John the Baptist, circa 1390.
Pierpont Morgan Library
At the Morgan Library: Some killer medieval fashion. Shown here, Salome decked out in a body-hugging number to oversee the decapitation of John the Baptist, circa 1390.
Fringed shawls were clearly big in the mid-14th century. As was running around nekkid with your finger in your bum. An illustration from Jacques de Longuyon's 'Vows of the Peacock.'
Pierpont Morgan Library
Fringed shawls were clearly big in the mid-14th century. As was running around nekkid with your finger in your bum. An illustration from Jacques de Longuyon's 'Vows of the Peacock.'

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About Gallerina

Carolina A. Miranda is a regular contributor to WNYC and blogs about the arts for the station as "Gallerina." In addition to that, she contributes articles on culture, travel and the arts to a variety of national and regional media, including Time, ArtNews, Travel + Leisure and Budget Travel and Florida Travel + Life. She has reported on the burgeoning industry of skatepark design, architectural pedagogy in Southern California, the presence of street art in museums and Lima's burgeoning food scene, among many other subjects. In 2008, she was named one of eight fellows in the USC Annenberg/Getty Arts Journalism Program for her arts and architecture blog C-Monster.net, which has received mentions in the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times. In January of 2010, the Times named her one of nine people to follow on Twitter. Got a tip? E-mail her at c [@] c-monster [dot] net

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