David Smith cubes and art works that explore the boundary between the real and the imagined at the Whitney, psychedelic paintings that incorporate the human figure at Dodge Gallery, Edward Sorel's satirical cartoons at the Visual Arts Gallery and pieces at MediaNoche that bring the night sky (and other imagery) into the gallery space. Here's what's crackin' in the arts world in the coming week.
Real/Surreal at the Whitney Museum There’s always that moment in horror movies and end-of-world thrillers when everything gets eerily silent. Rooms stand empty and the air grows still, and the viewer suddenly realizes that something realllllllly bad is about to go down. If you enjoy that churning-in-the-pit-of-the-stomach kind of vibe, then put the Whitney’s Real/Surreal exhibit at the top of your to-do list. This highly compelling gathering drawn from the museum’s permanent collection gathers together 80 paintings, drawings, photographs and prints that explore the boundary between the real and the imagined in the period that surrounded World War II. The pieces in the show all seem to channel a distinct unease: industrial landscapes stand empty, figures are shrouded in robes, even the paintings of people at play seem contorted and strange — as if trapped in peculiar dreams, unable to wake up. Opens on Thursday, on the Upper East Side.
David Smith: Cubes and Anarchy at the Whitney Museum While you’re at the museum, be sure to pop upstairs to the fourth floor gallery, to examine the works by this influential 20th century artist (1906-1965), known for producing large-scale sculptures out of gleaming, welded steel. By now, his work may seem familiar — the sort of thing you see in sculpture gardens and while tooling around Storm King. But the show provides a thoughtful space in which to reconsider Smith's work and influences (which included everything from industrial infrastructure to surrealism to the constructivist works of artists such as Kazimir Malevich). The exuberant arrangements of cubes, rectangles and cylinders seem to defy gravity — and the gleaming, brushed steel sculptures from the ‘60s display a texture that is downright hallucinatory. Opens on Thursday, on the Upper East Side.
Go Figure at Dodge Gallery This exhibit, organized by painter Eddie Martinez, looks at the ways in which some contemporary artists are incorporating the human figure into their work. To be clear: this is not fuddy duddy portraiture. The artists in this show are splaying bodies along the edge of a canvas, showing figures that dissolve into painted backdrops and depicting faces that seem to melt in a explosions of psychedelic color. There’s even a clown painting. Opens on Thursday at 6 P.M., on the Lower East Side.
Edward Sorel, Nice Work If You Can Get It, at the Visual Arts Gallery For decades, Sorel has skewered American politicians, celebrities and cultural figures in his scratchy, satirical cartoons. His work has also been featured in publications as diverse as The New Yorker and The Nation. Now he will be honored as part of the School of Visual Arts’ Masters series. A good opportunity to see a compendium of his works. Opens Friday, in Chelsea. A reception for the artist will be held next Thursday, October 13 at 6 P.M.
Sutthirat Suparinya, Hypothetical, at MediaNoche Though a small space, this East Harlem gallery regularly challenges viewers with exhibits that explore the intersection of art and technology. This season, they will be displaying the works of Suparinya, a Thai-born artist who creates immersive pieces that bring the night sky (and other imagery) into the gallery space. Expect to be disoriented with sound, darkness and light. Opens Thursday at 6 .M., in East Harlem.