Kiefer, DeFeo, Gatson and Copley, et. al., in this merely circumstantially Frieze Week suite of art picks from our 5/8 issue.
ANSELM KIEFER: MORGENTHAU PLAN
Gagosian, 522 West 21st St., through June 8th
There was a time when dramatic demilitarization was only one of several proposed consequences Germany should suffer for its aggressions in World War II. Another proposal—put forth by Henry Morgenthau Jr. for the Roosevelt administration, and thus known as the Morgenthau Plan—aimed to tamper Germany's potential as a military threat via dramatic de-industrialization instead. Considered seriously though ultimately scrapped, this proposal might have rendered Germany an agricultural state, if not a failed one, rather than the heavily industrialized economic force it has become. German artist Anselm Kiefer continues to mine the visual possibilities of the alternate history that such a 'solution' might've begotten by crafting oppositional binaries—formal, material, sociopolitical—to summon forth "the complexity of things," as he has said, in which darknesses loom as flowers dare to bloom.
JAY DEFEO: A RETROSPECTIVE
Whitney Museum of American Art, 945 Madison Ave. at 75th St., through June 2nd
It would be challenging, to say the least, to imagine an artist whose retrospective might cover more creative territory in terms of mediums, skill sets and expressive gravities than Jay DeFeo. In a massive, thoroughly sourced exhibition including paintings, collages, photographs, sculptures, drawings and jewelry, the Whitney succeeds abundantly in conveying the artist's wide range of material activities—from the execution of smallish, curio-like sculptures to the gradual consummation of a painting weighing a ton—as well as her heavily textured, surface-complicating tendencies that serve to bind all her works together.
FINE LINES: AMERICAN DRAWINGS FROM THE BROOKLYN MUSEUM
Brooklyn Museum, 200 Eastern Parkway, through May 26th
Divided into six thematic sections related to figuration and setting—and spanning nearly two full centuries, from the 18th to the 20th—this exhibit of around a hundred works by over seventy American artists features an expectedly extensive array of styles, mediums and expressivity. Perhaps somewhat more intriguing, though, is how this same array provides, via depictions writ generally small, a visual narrative of life's changing priorities and diminishing simplicities in a nation increasingly tethered to the mighty promises of industry.
RICO GATSON: THE PROMISE OF LIGHT
Ronald Feldman Fine Arts, 31 Mercer St., through May 25th
Rico Gatson's extensively multi-media solo show spans both of the gallery's exhibition spaces and features paintings, sculptures, video projections, digital prints and installations. Inspired in part by The Warmth of Other Suns, by Isabel Wilkerson, and in part by personal ties and ancestral tales, Gatson deploys narrative progressions, variable abstractions and the power of chromatic associations in the telling, retelling and reformulating of histories of mid-20th-century African American migration out of the US South. Get a glimpse of the promises Gatson's lights hold in store, and of how glimpses of hope are furled into the folds.
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