Masterworks, monstrosities and implicit herpetologies are not lacking in this series of art picks from the current issue of our pleasurable paper.
DÜRER TO DE KOONING: 100 MASTER DRAWINGS FROM MUNICH
The Morgan Library & Museum, 225 Madison Ave., through January 6th
This invariably stunning exhibition, whose broader temporal arc actually precedes Dürer and postdates de Kooning, is a culling of timeless masterworks older and newer—from Ghirlandaio, Michelangelo, Pontormo and Grünewald to Van Gogh, Caspar David Friedrich, Max Beckmann and Sigmar Polke—from the Staatliche Graphische Sammlung in Munich. Take your sweet time as you stroll through this one lest you miss the subtly perceptible embossing or typeface on the verso side of a fluid sketch by Rembrandt, or lest your pace become a half-step too quick to realize that a variably layered drawing by Francis Picabia is nothing short of oneiric plunges depicted. Sticky details of this sort are abundant in this exhibit.
BRUCE DOW & ALLYSON STRAFELLA
Norte Maar Gallery, 83 Wyckoff Ave. #1B, through November 18th
In the gallery's main room, a lone sculpture by Bruce Dow, Love Seats, is a graceful, nearly seamless merging of kindred Eames chairs whose frozen moment of mirror-like confrontation—a lovely instant of ergonometric implausibility—is grounded by marble and framed by a room, its bichromatic palette well timed for All Hallows' Eve. Accompanying this piece are two of Dow's works on paper, one born of the positive-space elements extracted from the other. Similarly splendid in their simplicity are Allyson Strafella's drawings in the project room, the delicate yields of a painstaking meta-manual process in which the wielded utensil of mark making is a typewriter. Both exhibits are perfectly spare, perfectly placed, perfectly poised to please.
MARY CARLSON: BEAUTIFUL BEAST
Studio 10, 56 Bogart St., through October 28th
Of apparent importance in Carlson's firm command of her craft is her willingness to leave finished forms to chance. Thus her finely sculpted figures of various beasts and personages are coated with experimental, to some extent unpredictable glazes before they achieve consummate form in final firings. The yields of this process are impressive and enticing. Dimple-like, knuckle-nooked, thumb-prodded surfaces glisten irregularly and lure you in to explore their stains and sutures more closely. Before you know it you'll walk a tightly elliptical circuit or two around Big Blue—a sixteen-foot-long herpetologist's wet dream that seems seized up in indigestive turmoil—as you attempt to determine if it is, in fact, molting. And this is but one piece among a dozen in this excellent show.
JONAS MEKAS: IMAGES OUT OF DARKNESS
James Fuentes, 56 Delancey St., through October 28th
A visual recounting of physical and psychological displacements from a Nazi labor camp in Wiesbaden, Germany, where Jonas Mekas and his brother Adolfas worked in a machine factory, to a farm near the Danish border, then back to displaced persons camps in Germany before eventually moving on to New York City—all in the turn of five fraught years from 1944-49—Images Out of Darkness digs into wartime history to dig its way back out via variably photographic revisitings. Somehow Mekas, both despite and as a result of such desperate surroundings, wields his camera to celebrate life.
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