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This Week: Must-See Arts in the City

WNYC's Arts Datebook: March 14 - 20, 2012

Wednesday, March 14, 2012 - 12:00 AM

Early works by a pop-graffitist in Brooklyn, paintings of devils in Chelsea, art from the Byzantine era at the Met, the stark look of Deco in Japan, the stirring self-portraits of Francesca Woodman at the Guggenheim and a very special drawing class at the Whitney. There is lots to see and do this week. Here's what we're looking at:

Keith Haring: 1978-1982 at the Brooklyn Museum The artist who was known for his doodle-like drawings of babies, dogs and jittery human figures in subway stations is getting a thorough examination of his early works. The museum has gathered dozens of works on paper, more than 150 archival objects (including sketchbooks, journals and photographs) and rarely-seen experimental videos — all of which cover Haring’s early years in New York, when he was beginning to find his voice. Opens Friday, in Brooklyn.

Deco Japan: Shaping Modern Culture, 1920-1945, at the Japan Society As in other parts of the world, the early 20th century was a time of great change in Japan. Women entered the workforce in great numbers and a streamlined modernity imbued areas such as art, fashion, architecture and design. This resulted in an Art Deco movement that was distinctly Japanese. Bobbed, red-lipped women appeared in posters that bore the influences of block printing. Kimono textiles featured skyscraper motifs. And decorative sculpture came with sharp, angular lines. This is a fine opportunity to explore the roaring ‘20s from the P.O.V. of Japan. Opens Friday, on the Upper East Side.

Francesca Woodman at the Guggenheim Museum In 1981, at the age of 22, photographer Francesca Woodman committed suicide by leaping out a window. In her lifetime, she’d had few exhibits. But she’d been prolific: relentlessly photographing herself in decaying dilapidated rooms, camouflaged into a patterned wallpaper, emerging from woodwork, in the process of getting lost in her surroundings. Her enigmatic images read like a nod to the surrealism of the early 20th century (hence her inclusion in a worthwhile surrealism show at LACMA, in L.A.). But her production technique is all late 20th century, with the focus on photography. The exhibit will include rarely-seen videos. Opens Friday, on the Upper East Side.

Byzantium and Islam: Age of Transition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art At the beginning of the seventh century, the area that comprised the wealthy southern extremes of the Byzantine Empire (North Africa, Syria and the Eastern Mediterranean) was fast becoming an important hub in the rising Islamic world. The Met takes a look at work from this dynamic period, surveying more than 300 incredible objects, including silver, monumental wall hangings, floor mosaics, leaves from a rare vellum gospel and delicately-carved ivories. Opens on Wednesday, on the Upper East Side.

Hernan Bas, Occult Contemporary, at Lehmann Maupin in Chelsea. Born in Miami, but now living in Detroit, Bas’s latest solo outing at Lehmann Maupin features a series devoted to the devil — or, more accurately, exploring the ways in which the devil has manifested himself in other areas of culture, including music and literature. (The artist draws from the work of poet Charles Baudelaire and composer Giuseppe Tartini, among others.) The pieces feature Bas’s trademark solitary figures inhabiting grim landscapes, all full of fantastical flourishes. Opens Thursday, in Chelsea.

Stikman, 20, at Pandemic Gallery. For two decades, the street artist who goes by the name of Stikman has been producing works that feature a cryptic, faceless stick figure crafted from a range of materials: wood, collaged paper, stickers, and even reflective road tape. Now the elusive artist will be showcasing a whole series of works — including works on paper — at his first solo gallery show. Opens Friday at 7 P.M., in Williamsburg.

PLUS... Artists Take Note: Esteemed painter Nicole Eisenman is leading a figure drawing class at the Whitney Museum this Friday at 7:30 P.M. It's free with admission!

Courtesy George and Betty Woodman
The Guggenheim is displaying the works of Francesca Woodman, an artist who used photography to explore questions of identity and gender.
Courtesy George and Betty Woodman
In her images, Woodman often appears to be dissolving into her surroundings. Seen here, an untitled work from 1976.
Courtesy George and Betty Woodman
In her brief career (she died at the age of 22), Woodman created a body of work that was heavily influenced by surrealism.
Courtesy of the Japan Society
The Japan Society has pulled together Art Deco works from the two decades starting in 1920. Posters of the era frequently feature a woman with bobbed hair and red lipstick -- a 'moga,' or modern girl.
Courtesy of the Japan Society
Women joined the professional ranks in great numbers during the 1920s. A color lithograph by K. Kotani from 'The Modern Song (Modan bushi),' 1930, is seen above.
Courtesy of the Japan Society
An affinity for modernism in 1920s Japan also translated into streamlined decorative objects, such as this 1930s porcelain sake flask in the shape of an Akita.
Courtesy the artist and Lehmann Maupin Gallery, New York
Lehmann Maupin in Chelsea is showing the latest paintings by Miami-born painter Hernan Bas, whose canvases are frequently inflected with the surreal. 'Jack of the Lantern,' from 2011, is seen here.
Courtesy the artist and Lehmann Maupin Gallery, New York
Bas's latest series -- including 'A Satanist on a Tuesday (or The Key Master)' -- features works inspired by the appearance of the devil in music and literature.
Courtesy of the Brooklyn Museum, New York
The Metropolitan Museum is gathering works produced on the southern side of the Byzantine Empire during the rise of Islam. Seen here: a sixth century mosaic of a lion from the Hammam Lif Synagogue.
Benaki Museum, Athens. Photo by Strefanos Samios
Byzantium covered much of North Africa and the eastern Mediterranean during the seventh century and was a dynamic mix of cultures. Seen here: earrings with birds.
Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles
A folio from a 10th century Q'uran, likely crafted somewhere in modern-day Tunisia, also at the Met.
Collection Keith Haring Foundation. © Keith Haring Foundation
A sumi ink drawing from 1981 by Keith Haring, part of an examination of the artist's early work at the Brooklyn Museum.
Collection Keith Haring Foundation. © Keith Haring Foundation
One of Haring's journal drawings, from 1977. The exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum will feature dozens of artifacts, including journals, sketchbooks and rare videos.

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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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