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This Week: Must-See Arts in the City

WNYC's Arts Datebook: May 2 - 8, 2012

Wednesday, May 02, 2012 - 12:00 AM

The portraiture of Alice Neel in Chelsea, the weird-grotesque films of a Swedish artist at the New Museum and the filmy interiors of a post-Impressionist at the Jewish Museum. Plus: photographic narratives at MoMA and text-based works in Tribeca. There's lots going on in the city this week. Here's what we're looking at:

Alice Neel, Late Portraits and Still Lifes, at David Zwirner Gallery At a period in the 20th century when artists were devoted to the abstract or the purely conceptual, the famously irascible Neel was firmly focused on painting the figure: her friends, lovers, acquaintances and various inhabitants of New York’s cultural circles. The latest exhibit of her work at Zwirner (the gallery that represents the estate) pulls together portraits and still lifes from the last two decades of Neel’s life — when she was experimenting with expressive brushstrokes and acid colors, even as she stayed true to the human form. Opens on Friday, at 6 p.m.

The Parade: Nathalie Djurberg with Music by Hans Berg at the New Museum Anyone who associates claymation with the cutesy antics of Wallace & Gromit should be ready to have their mind blown by this exhibit. Djurberg is known for creating short, stop-motion films that employ a primitive assortment of clay characters engaging in the base and the grotesque: violence, gluttony, revenge, sexual god-knows-what and a host of other off-putting scenarios. Ick factor aside, these videos are often irresistibly compelling to watch, perhaps because they reflect the animalistic in all of us. Djurberg and her collaborator Berg will be exhibiting their largest multimedia installation to date in the New Museum’s brand new Studio 231 space, with sculptural installations accompanying all the video. Should be good-weird. Opens on Wednesday, on the Lower East Side.

Edouard Vuillard: A Painter and his Muses, 1890-1940, at the Jewish Museum This French post-Impressionist painter is known for his treatment of interiors: blurring objects and light into often muted arrays of colors and lines. Some of these can feel downright hallucinatory, as in the canvas 'Messieurs and Mesdames Josse and Gaston,' from 1905, in which the pinks and reds bleed together into something that almost resembles a negative (or perhaps an Instagram filter). This exhibit at the Jewish Museum will feature more than 50 works, featuring portraits of the friends and acquaintances who were key to the artist’s career. Opens on Friday, on the Upper East Side.

Taryn Simon: A Living Man Declared Dead and Other Chapters at the Museum of Modern Art For four years, photographer Taryn Simon has been investigating the relationship between people (and animals) and the historical forces that shape them. In this project, she has documented the living ascendants and descendants of a single bloodline: from survivors of the genocide in Bosnia to the first woman to hijack an airplane to the living dead in India. One series is even dedicated to test rabbits infected with a lethal disease in Australia. The work is divided into 18 chapters and MoMA is exhibiting nine — an interesting exercise in examining the roles that chance and fate play in our lives. Opening on Wednesday, in Midtown.

Soledad Arias, On Air, and Text in Process, at RH Gallery This roomy Tribeca space is putting on a pair of texty new exhibits. In one gallery, Argentine artist Soledad Arias explores the mechanics of sound and words — including a neon piece that serves as a visual representation of John Cage’s infamous ambient sound piece 4’33”. In the other gallery, a group show pulls together text-based works by a group of diverse artists, including the wordy doodles of Leon Ferrari (whose work was featured at MoMA three years ago). Through June 22, in Tribeca.

Courtesy Walker Art Center, Minneapolis. Photo: Gene Pittman
Nathalie Djurberg's grotesque-weird videos go on view at the New Museum's new ground floor space. A view of the installation 'The Parade,' above.
Courtesy the artists, Zach Feuer Gallery, New York and Giò Marconi, Milan
A still from 'Open Window,' one of Djurberg's videos at the New Museum. Her claymation characters explore the basest aspects of violence and gluttony.
Courtesy the artists, Zach Feuer Gallery, New York and Giò Marconi, Milan
Djurberg produces the pieces with her long-time collaborator Hans Berg (he does the music). Seen here: a still from 'I wasn't made to play the son.'
Collection of Guy-Patrice Dauberville, courtesy of the Galerie Bernheim-Jeune, Paris.
At the Jewish Museum, a look at the portraits and blurry domestic scenes of post-Impressionist Edouard Vuillard. His 1905 oil, 'Messieurs and Mesdames Josse and Gaston Bernheim-Jeune,' is seen above.
Collection of Helen Frankenthaler
Vuillard could reduce a scene to a composition of color and lines. Seen here: 'Thadée Natanson at His Desk,' from 1899.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Gift of Alex M. Lewyt, 1955, 55.173.
The Vuillard show includes this charming self-portrait of the artist, made when he was 21, in 1889.
© 2012 Taryn Simon. Courtesy the Museum of Modern Art, New York
MoMA is displaying part of an intense photographic series by Taryn Simon -- pieces that examine individuals tied to a specific bloodline. Seen here: students from the Ukraine.
© 2012 Taryn Simon. Courtesy the Museum of Modern Art, New York
Also part of Simon's series at MoMA: pictures documenting the family of Joseph Nyamwanda Jura Ondijo in Kenya, a figure considered powerful because he leases his land for a cell phone tower.
Courtesy of the artist and RH Gallery
RH Gallery in Tribeca is opening two new exhibits, including a solo show of pieces by Soledad Arias. Seen above: 'Phonetic Neon [aha],' from 2011.
Courtesy of the artist and RH Gallery
The other exhibit at RH is a collection of text-based works -- including 'Fuck Off (Moleskin) 1' by Ken Nicol.
© The Estate of Alice Neel. Courtesy David Zwirner, New York
The portraiture of Alice Neel goes on view at David Zwirner in Chelsea. A 1973 painting featuring David Sokola is shown above.
© The Estate of Alice Neel. Courtesy David Zwirner, New York
Neel had a knack for conveying the personalities of her sitters in a just a few brushstrokes -- as in this painting 'Geoffrey Hendricks and Brian,' from 1978.
© The Estate of Alice Neel. Courtesy David Zwirner, New York
Neel stuck to portraiture at a time when many artists were turning to abstraction, pop and conceptualism. Hugh Hurd is seen above, in a portrait from 1964.

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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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