Annie Leibovitz: A Photographer’s Life Brooklyn Museum
Through January 21
Annie Leibovitz has put an elegant, sensual, and occasionally wry touch on the high-profile portraits she’s been snapping since the early 1970s. But don’t expect exclusively glossy celebrity shots at the Brooklyn Museum: While the 15-year retrospective contains a fair share of posing rock stars and languid actors, the real focus of the show is Leibovitz herself. The famed photographer doesn’t make many appearances in the flesh (save for the nude portrait of her taken by Susan Sontag), but elements of her life that might previously have seemed disparate or incongruous come crashing together in the daringly curated 200-photo exhibition. Black and white pictures of Leibovitz’s daughter‘s birth are beside a dim image of Sontag on her deathbed; a harrowing large-scale photograph of the bloody hand- and footprints left behind by massacred Tutsi schoolchildren hangs near an image of Brad Pitt lounging in leopard-print pants. The juxtapositions are jarring and the show as a whole is utterly thrilling. Ron Mueck
Through February 4
Ron Mueck would be better off working behind the scenes in Hollywood. The Australian artist’s sculptures of both miniature and larger-than-life humans are so convincing that one forgets to consider anything beyond what incredible feats of illusionism they are. We marvel at the accuracy of every flexed muscle and each perfect hair on Wild Man, a giant and completely believable silicone model clutching the oversized stool on which he is perched, or the frighteningly bluish tone of the smaller-scale Dead Dad’s skin. Perhaps Mueck is conveying some emotional messages through these sculptures: the two-foot tall spooning couple lies staring glumly into space, ostensibly pondering their unhappiness with each other. But before you can consider Mueck’s decision to make this pair so small (is physical size a representation of ego here?), you’re back to considering how distractingly well made they are. And why not just visit Madame Toussaud’s for that?