Spend properly the first weekend proper of 2013 with these course-credit-worthy museum exhibitions, noted also in our 1/2 print issue.
SINISTER POP & DARK AND DEADPAN
Whitney Museum of American Art, 945 Madison Ave., through March 31st
While Sinister Pop explores an allegedly darker side of this postwar style often associated with brighter, so to speak, representations of booming consumer culture, Dark and Deadpan examines Pop from its various forms of visibility in films, commercials, advertising slogans and politics. In other words, the former will broaden your awareness of Pop as you observe it differently and anew, and the latter will widen your scope further yet by placing it within its greater cultural milieu. See them independently or both at once; your history lesson will be interdisciplinary either way.
INVENTING ABSTRACTION: 1910-1925
MoMA, 11 West 53rd St., through April 15th
Rather than narrowing their narrative scope, the limited temporal arc of this exhibition allows the curators to truly dig deep into their subject matter. Though it might not surprise you that abstraction, during the fifteen fervent years in the show's title, was much more than a merely painterly pursuit, it will likely delight you to see it inflected through so many different creative lenses—and all in the same museum at once. So you will see artists you know, paintings you know, stories you've heard. But you will also see—as a bit of wall reading, no less—how many of the creatives of the time influenced and worked with one another, and in some ways you'll hear it too. Abstraction in all dimensions, on display for all your senses.
MANTEGNA TO MATISSE: MASTER DRAWINGS FROM THE COURTAULD GALLERY
The Frick Collection, 1 East 70th St., through January 27th
There's an exhibit of master drawings at The Morgan, Matisse is in fuller form at The Met, and Picasso is typically findable all over town, but none of that should make the spread of works on view at the Frick here any less enticing. Regarding exhibits of this caliber, the more the merrier. From sketches and studies to fully executed pieces, the display's forms and dimensions are several and sundry, but not quite as varied as its names—to name a few, Dürer, Rembrandt, Seurat, Van Gogh, Matisse, Picasso, Géricault, Watteau. All courtesy of a loan of historical proportions from the Courtauld Gallery in London.
HENRY MATISSE: IN SEARCH OF TRUE PAINTING
Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1000 5th Ave., through March 17th
By gathering together pieces from a number of different institutions and collections, and by allowing for a great deal of wall space to be occupied by studies, unfinished works, repeated compositions and photographs of in-process paintings, the curators of this exhibition have created an investigatory, revelatory display of Matisse's oeuvre as you have most likely not seen it before. What you have here, in other words, is the artist questioning himself, challenging himself and reiterating himself, and thereby emboldening selectively those aspects of his painterly manners that seem, after so much scrutinizing, worthy of further refinement. A delightful show in many ways, and no matter your level of expertise on Matisse.
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