Arguing over aesthetics can make for good drama. Painters from Vermeer to Pollock have been subjects of biopics. Both Stephen Sondheim's Sunday in the Park with George (selection of which are featured in Sondheim on Sondheim) and Art by Yasmina Reza reaped Tony Awards, and a number of current plays are trying to repeat their success.
Here are our Top 5 New York theater productions currently about art:
1. Alfred Molina's Mark Rothko layers no less than his philosophy of the world into the crimson-hued murals in Red, an account of the painter's two-year struggle to create a commissioned series of paintings for the Four Seasons Restaurant.
2. The actress and playwright Claudia Shear stars in her play Restoration at New York Theater Workshop. She plays Giulia, a Brooklyn art restorer given the chance to spruce up Michelangelo's David for its 500th birthday and revive her floundering career.
3. What if Robert Rauschenberg unleashed his vision in three dimensions rather than two. bobrauschenbergamerica imagines what would have been, extrapolating his aesthetic from the canvas onto the stage. SITI Company revives Charles Mee's loosely connected series of vignettes at Dance Theater Workshop.
4. A little farther off Broadway (i.e. Red Bank, New Jersey) the Two River Theater has mounted a production of Steve Martin’s Picasso at the Lapin Agile. Albert Einstein joins Picasso at a Paris café and their discussion on genius, science as well as the nature of art carries the plot.
5. An art detective, a playwright, an OB/GYN, a widow and a New York Times food writer gather for an Alice B. Toklas-inspired dinner in the Off-Broadway Bass for Picasso. The Spanish artist appears only in name, but certainly his aesthetics come into play.