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This Week: Must-See Arts in the City

WNYC's Arts Datebook: February 22 - 28, 2012

Wednesday, February 22, 2012 - 12:00 AM

Crushed cars at the Guggenheim, costumed self-portraits at MoMA, site-specific installations in the Brooklyn Museum's period rooms and a gallery show that is all about nudes. It's a hopping week in New York. Here's what we're looking at:

John Chamberlain, Choices, at the Guggenheim Museum Crushed hoods, dismembered fenders and shredded van roofs. Beginning in the late 1950s — and right up until his death at the end of last year — Chamberlain was known for producing sculptures crafted out of welded car parts: supremely macho forms that reconfigured America’s favorite icon into flamboyant ribbons of steel. His pieces were explosive, yet simple. They employed color at a time when sculpture was all about monochromatic palettes. The museum will now showcase approximately 100 of his works from throughout his career, including some of his other experimentations, with materials such as foam and Plexiglas. Should be a smashing good time. Opens Friday on the Upper East Side.

Cindy Sherman at the Museum of Modern Art This much-awaited retrospective tracks the career of one of the most influential photographers of the late 20th century, a prolific figure who has turned the idea of the costumed portrait into a career-long conceit — one which regularly examines the roles of women in front of (and behind) the camera. On view at MoMA will be roughly 180 key works, including the series that pretty much launched Sherman’s career: the complete ‘Untitled Film Stills’ from the late 1970s, in which the photographer casts herself as prototypical female characters in invented films. (To be clear: Sherman isn’t the first to do this, but it’s been her pieces that have had the most impact on the work of others.) The show will include other series, too: including the maligned (for good reason) clown portraits, her humorous riffs on historic painting and her most recent work, in which she depicts herself as ladies of a certain age. Opens Sunday in Midtown.

Playing House at the Brooklyn Museum In the children’s book "From The Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler," a pair of siblings run away from home and take up residence in the period rooms at the Met. The Brooklyn Museum is now inviting various contemporary artists do virtually the same: create installations for the museum’s period rooms as a way to consider the history of these spaces. Tucked into a plantation dining room and John D. Rockefeller’s late 19th century smoking room, among other spots, will be fabric sculptures, drawings and video installations produced by Ann Agee, Anne Chu, Betty Woodman and Mary Lucier. A good opportunity to see old spaces anew. Opens Friday in Brooklyn.

Dan Flavin, Drawing, at the Morgan Library The artist best known for his buzzing installations comprised of fluorescent light tubes was also an avid illustrator, not only sketching out ideas for his sculptures, but more pastoral motifs, like sailboats. He was a noted collector, too. The exhibit will include sketches from his archive by Hudson River School painters, Piet Mondrian, Donald Judd and Sol Lewitt. Through July 1.

Ellen Harvey, The Nudist Museum Gift Shop, at Dodge Gallery Riffing on the idea of the nude, Harvey takes over a portion of this Lower East Side space with an installation that explores the ways in which painters have historically employed nekkid people — be it for beauty, titillation or simple anatomical representation. Opens Thursday at 6 P.M., on the Lower East Side.

The Museum of Modern Art, New York
In a major retrospective, MoMA will showcase Cindy Sherman in her many guises. Above, an image from the artist's 'Centerfolds' series, from 1981.
The Museum of Modern Art, New York.
Sherman has inserted herself into a variety of staged settings over her career, from clown portraits to art historical figures, the latter of which (an image from 1989) is seen above.
Courtesy the artist and Metro Pictures, New York © 2012 Cindy Sherman
In work from 2007-08, Sherman portrayed herself as a series of ladies of a certain age, encrusted with plenty of lipliner and jewels.
Courtesy the artist and Metro Pictures, New York © 2012 Cindy Sherman
Sherman again, in her 2007-08 series, looking like she's ready to attack the Meatpacking District on a Saturday night.
Collection of Stephen Flavin © 2012 Stephen Flavin / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York Photography: Graham S. Haber, 2011
At the Morgan Library, the drawings of Dan Flavin, an artist known for his works with fluorescent light. Seen here: 'In Honor of Harold Joachim,' from 1984.
Collection of Stephen Flavin © 2012 Stephen Flavin / Artists Rights Society (ARS). Photograph: Graham S. Haber, 2011
The Morgan exhibit is a rare opportunity to see Flavin's rough sketches and inspirations -- including 'Sails,' from 1986, seen above.
© Anne Chu, courtesy of the artist
The Brooklyn Museum is inviting contemporary artists to install works in their period galleries, such as Anne Chu -- who made this piece 'Birds of Prey (Vulture).''
© Ann Agee, courtesy of the artist
The installations in the Brooklyn Museum's period rooms are all site-specific -- intended to get artists (such as Ann Agee, above) to consider the history of those spaces.
Courtesy of the artist and DODGEgallery. Photo credit: Jan Baracz
Painter Ellen Harvey has created an installation at Dodge Gallery that riffs on the idea of historical nudes.
Courtesy of the artist and DODGEgallery. Photo credit: Jan Baracz
In this painting, Harvey pays tribute to Master of Villamagna's 'Virgin and Child with Saint John the Baptist and Two Angels.'
Photo: David Heald/Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York
Chamberlain was the first sculptor to employ found bits of automobiles. The piece 'Dolores James,' from 1962 will be one of the works on view at the Guggenheim.
Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen, Sammlung Brandhorst. Photo: Courtesy The Pace Gallery
Chamberlain was not entirely classifiable as an artist, labelled a minimalist, an expressionist and pop. His 1989 piece 'Lord Suckfist' is seen here.

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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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