The Absolutely Crucial Spring Arts Preview 

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THEATER
Accent on Youth
at the Manhattan Theatre Club
Expert farceur David Hyde Pierce, directed by pro Daniel Sullivan, in a rarely performed play by Samuel Raphaelson, the screenwriter of Ernst Lubitsch’s Trouble in Paradise and The Shop Around the Corner. Mix those three ingredients, and you should have a perfect champagne cocktail. Opens April 29. $56-96.
HAPPY  FUN  EXPENSIVE

Why Torture is Wrong, And The People Who Love Them

at the Public Theater
Great title. A new Christopher Durang play, starring his muse, expert farceuse Kristine Nielsen. Opens April 6. $60.
HAPPY  SAD  FUN  EXPENSIVE

The Proust Project

at Classic Stage Company
Not to be confused with the popular competitive English pastime of summarizing Proust, the CSC presents a series of staged readings serving as a tour through one of the 20th century’s greatest works. Each show will be followed by a discussion on Proust (free madeleines too!). Weekly, starting March 23.
SMART  CHALLENGING

The Wooster Group’s La Didone

at St. Ann’s Warehouse
Perennial cool kids the Wooster Group present this 16th-century baroque Italian opera by Francesco Cavalli about Aeneas and Dido. Boring, right? Don’t worry: inspired by 60s sci-fi cult film Terrore nello spazio, there will also be space ships and electric guitars, which are never boring. Until April 26. $38-62.
SAD  SMART  CHALLENGING  EXPENSIVE  

Being Audrey
at the Connelly Theatre.
A play about Audrey Hepburn, or Audrey worship, doesn’t sound too promising, but The Transport Group can do no wrong lately. Opens March 27. $38.
HAPPY  CHALLENGING

9 to 5: The Musical

at the Marquis Theatre.
You love Dolly. We love Dolly. Dolly loves Dolly. Opens April 30. $66-126.
STUPID  LOW BROW  FUN  SEXY  EXPENSIVE   A/C

Naomi Wallace’s Things of Dry Hours by NY Theater Workshop

at Centerstage
MacArthur-certified genius Wallace’s latest play unpacks the multiple complexities of race, religion and politics against the backdrop of the Depression. The first Depression. April 27-June 3.
SAD  SMART  CHALLENGING

David Levine and CiNE’s Venice Saved: A Lecture,
at PS122 
This multimedia/interactive piece (don’t stop reading) begins with hyper-intense intellectual Simone Weil’s unfinished play and goes on to investigate relaxing topics like torture, outsourcing, anorexia, Israel, Palestine, Blackwater and performance art. March 21-April 5. $15-20.
SAD  SMART  CHALLENGING  CABLE

Anne Carson’s translation of An Orestia

Wonderful, wonderful poet Anne Carson went ahead and translated work by Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides (screenwriters for 300) and the Classic Stage Company went ahead and threw together a two-night extravaganza covering the fall of the House of Atreus (with marathon performances on Saturdays and Sundays, if you’re feeling tough). March 22-April 19. $30-70.
SAD  SMART  CHALLENGING  SEXY

MUSEUMS
Sun K. Kwak: Enfolding 280 Hours
at the Brooklyn Museum
The young NYC-based Korean artist takes over an entire gallery with her dark, fluid masking tape compositions. Like rivers of black running over the wall, Kwak’s interventions make even the brightest of white cube gallery spaces seem murky and ominous. March 27-July 5. $8.
SAD  CHALLENGING

Into the Sunset: Photography’s Image of the American West
at MoMA
Spanning 1850 to the present, this survey points towards parallels between the settling of the mythic Western landscape and its appearance in photographs. Did capturing the West on film effectively tame it? Did photography move in new directions upon discovering its expansive? Can photography re-imagine how the West was won? Cindy Sherman, Robert Adams, Dorothea Lange, Edward Weston and others provide answers. March 29-June 8. $20.
LOW BROW

Mark Amerika: Immobilité
at Chelsea Art Museum
New media and web artist Amerika presents the latest installment of the Chelsea Art Museum’s sparse but rewarding video program. His new feature-length work set in a kind of post-capitalist depopulated hinterland melds tropes of European art-house cinema with the DIY look of handheld video and the experimental editing and music (by sound artist Chad Mossholder) of contemporary American art. And speaking of experimental new media art, Immobilité will be available in shortened form for free download as an iPhone application. April 7-May 9. $4-8.
CHALLENGING ABSURD  CABLE

The Generational: Younger Than Jesus
at The New Museum
After a stripped slate of four installations all winter, this first edition of The New Museum’s triennial showcases some 50 artists born since 1976 (hence the exhibition title). Expect something like their opening show last winter, Unmonumental: a scattershot survey of contemporary gallery stars with some good, some mediocre and a pervasive giddiness from being surrounded by such a huge amount of art. April 8-June 18. $12.
HAPPY  SAD  SMART  STUPID

The Pictures Generation, 1974-1984
at the Metropolitan Museum
After exhibitions highlighting innovators in early and modern photography, the Met hosts this group show of New York-based artists who used their fluency in contemporary media to subvert and reconstruct the ways we picture our world. From movie stills, TV and print media news and the very discourse of art history, artists like Richard Prince, Sherrie Levine and Robert Longo invest familiar iconic images with new subjects and meanings. April 21-August 2. $20.
SMART  LOW BROW

Frank Lloyd Wright: From Without Outward
at Guggenheim
For the 50th anniversary of the opening of Wright’s iconic Guggenheim building, this exhibition offers some 80 works on every scale that showcase his revolutionary architectural theories as applied in his designs. Known for his modern, International Style forms, the emphasis here is on the spaces between Wright’s walls, the views and rooms created by his open-plan, cinematic aesthetic. May 15-August 23. $18.
SMART  LOW BROW

Avedon Fashion 1944-2000 and David Seidner: Paris Fashions, 1945
at the International Center for Photography
In the ICP’s ongoing program on fashion photography, these parallel exhibitions address works at once expansive and extremely focused. Richard Avedon’s work over a half century immortalized virtually every celebrity, political icon and famous designer of note in elegant, beautifully composed black and white photographs. Seidner, meanwhile, is represented in a series of photographs of famous two-foot fashion dolls deployed for an international tour by the French fashion industry in 1944. Intended as a way to re-assert the dominance of Paris’s war-torn fashion houses, the collection of dolls dressed by contemporaneous fashion stars will also be on display. May 15-September 6. $20.
HAPPY  LOW BROW  FUN

Francis Bacon: A Centenary Retrospective
at the Metropolitan Museum
Likely this year’s summer blockbuster show, Bacon’s first New York retrospective in 20 years comes on the centenary of his birth, and features some 153 artworks, highlighting recurring themes and important evolutions throughout his career. Come for the early uncanny surrealism and stay for the expressionist psycho-traumatic anguish! May 20-August 16. $20
SAD  SMART  CHALLENGING  SEXY

GALLERIES
Yeondoo Jung: Handmade Memories
at Tina Kim Gallery
In an effort to preserve quickly fading cultural memories in Korea, Jung has created six large-scale video works based on favorite experiences recollected by elderly people he encountered randomly in Seoul parks. Fictional memories can be as powerful as memorable fictions, and vice-versa, as Jung demonstrates with his lushly produced re-creations. 545 West 25th St, 3rd Floor, closes March 28
HAPPY  SAD  FREE  CABLE

Andreas Gefeller
at Hasted Hunt
The y-axis counterpart to famous countryman Andreas Gursky’s saturated horizontal expanses, Gefeller prizes patterns glimpsed from above or below. From the digitally assembled ceilings of entire office building floors to a tree branch being pulled out to sea by the tide, there’s a pervasive melancholic humor to his work: things are bleak, but at least we know it. 529 West 20th St, 3rd Floor, now through April 25
HAPPY  SAD  CHALLENGING FREE

Abdel Abdessemed: RIO
at David Zwirner
Coming off a blockbuster show at P.S.1 last winter, the Algerian-born multidisciplinary artist continues to ask how much violence and uncertainty it takes to cut through our contemporary stupor. In videos and installations that are at once aggressive, playful and spectacular, everyday objects and activities take on iconic significance. 519 West 19th St, April 3-May 9
SAD  SMART  CHALLENGING

Andrew Rogers: Odysseys and Sitings (1998-2008)
at White Box
This series of photographs and accompanying documentary chronicle Rogers’s 10-year land art project, comprising 32 stone sculptures in 14 different locations. Moving away from the modernism of preceding land artists like Robert Smithson, Rogers designs monuments attuned to the local culture and landscape and kicks off every construction effort ­— for which locals are hired — with a ceremony in the regional style. 329 Broome St, April 8-May 13
SMART  FREE

Nicolas Darrot
at Cueto Project
Seeing one of Darrot’s exhibitions — delighting with macabre robots and automated animal installations — is like stepping into the workshop of a postmodern Geppetto. Blending installation, sculpture and performance, the French artist’s inventive creations offer unsettling post-nature species prototypes. 551 West 21st St, April 16-June 20
FUN  ABSURD  FREE

Ward Shelley
at Pierogi
Though perhaps best known for elaborate architectural installations (like the four-storey living space he created at Sculpture Center in 2007) and grueling performance art (in 2004’s We have mice, Shelley lived inside Pierogi’s gallery walls for a month), this exhibition of new works hones in on equally meticulous and elaborate oil paintings of graphs and charts. In sprawling color-coded tables, Shelley attempts to chronicle entire artistic careers and eras. 177 North 9th St, April 17-May 17
SMART  CHALLENGING  FREE

Hernan Bas: The Dance of the Machine Gun & Other Forms of Unpopular Expression
at Lehmann Maupin
In his latest large-scale paintings, Bas continues his lavish, sensuous expressionist fantasies that blend mythic creatures and fantasy landscapes with aristocratic attire and country club rituals. The lush romantic visions are always cut with a lurking uneasiness, as if playful creatures and neon skies might be so many pretty harbingers of doom. 201 Chrystie St, April 23-July 10
LOW BROW  FUN  ABSURD  FREE

Marion Peck
at Sloan Fine Art
In uncanny oil paintings that mimic the poses and dimensions of classical portraiture, Peck unleashes stylized visions of childhood and fairy tales. Too playful to be nightmares and too disturbing to be dreams, Peck’s imagery evades detached observation and tests comfort zones. 128 Rivington St, May 13-June 13
CHALLENGING  SEXY  ABSURD  FREE

David Herbert
at Postmasters
In playful, mixed-media sculptures of architectural and pop cultural monuments in various states of deconstruction and dilapidation, Herbert calls America’s penchant towards self-mythologizing into question. His radiation-rotted Mickey Mouse, skeletal Superman and emptied out Empire State Building undermine deterministic national narratives. 459 West 19th St, May 21-June 20
SMART  ABSURD  FREE

CLASSICAL
Opera
Rigoletto
at the Met
Always wanted to go to the opera but were afraid to ask where to start? Whom would you ask, anyway? Well, ask us: Verdi’s Rigoletto is a fine place — you might even recognize a few of the tunes. Otto Schenk’s production returns to the Metropolitan Opera on April 1 for five performances over two weeks, with Joseph Calleja, the highlight of last season’s Macbeth, taking the role of the Duke. It should make for a memorable “La donna è mobile”! $15-375.
HAPPY  SAD  FUN  EXPENSIVE

The Amato Opera
Meanwhile, the charmingly modest Amato Opera is set to close this spring, after 61 years of providing downtown audiences with a little taste of uptown, stripped of its Lincoln Center pretension. So catch its productions of Puccini’s La Bohème (through April 5) or Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro (Apr. 25-May 31) — or miss out on a final glimpse of a bonafide New York classic. $30-35.
HAPPY  SAD  FUN  SEXY

Orchestral
Riccardo Muti and Esa-Pekka Salonen
Few laymen understand the importance of a conductor in leading an orchestra but, trust us, it’s really important! Or, see it for yourself — two baton-wielding powerhouses are coming to lead the New York Philharmonic: Riccardo Muti (Apr. 22-25) will conduct a program of Italian favorites; the Finnish-born Esa-Pekka Salonen (May 14, 16) will lead a program that includes fellow-Finn Sibelius’ Fifth Symphony. Salonen plans to retire soon to focus on composing, so catch him now in case he doesn’t stop by NY so much anymore. $30-109.
SAD  CHALLENGING  LOW BROW  EXPENSIVE

The Zehetmair Quartet
Those looking for something a bit more contemporary might visit the 92nd St. Y on April 22, where Heinz Holliger and Members of the Zehetmair Quartet will play a concert and pre-concert performance that includes ten pieces total from hometown composer Elliott Carter, as well as pieces by Mozart, Holliger himself and others. $25-48.

SAD  CHALLENGING

MULTIMEDIA
The Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra
If you won’t go see some live classical music on its own, maybe you will if a little film and video is thrown in? The Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra will be at Carnegie Hall on April 3 with a program of Mozart and accessible 20th Century composers, including Erik Satie’s “Cinéma,” which will be played as the accompaniment to famous French director René Clair’s debut film, the surrealist short Entr’acte. $40-50.
HAPPY  LOW BROW  FUN

Free Radicals
The following evening, April 4, the Klangforum Wien presents a multimedia program called Free Radicals at the newly refurbished Alice Tully Hall. It will feature avant-garde music by composers like Arnold Schoenberg set to avant-garde films by directors like Man Ray and Maya Deren. They’ll either complement each other or make you twice as crazy. $30-50.
SMART  CHALLENGING  ABSURD  EXPENSIVE

The Brooklyn Philharmonic
On May 9, the trolley dodgers of local classical will play Prokofiev-favorite Peter and the Wolf to Suzie Templeton’s short of the same name, which won the Oscar for Best Animated Short Film last year. A performance of Stravinsky’s A Soldier’s Tale will follow, which will feature the world premiere of Jody Oberfelder’s new staging and choreography. $20-60.
HAPPY  SAD  FUN

LITERATURE
L.J. Davis’ 1971 novel A Meaningful Life
Reissued earlier this month by NYRB, A Meaningful Life is the saga of a man buying and restoring a ruined Clinton Hill brownstone; it’s also a delicately satiric and then brutally, almost off-puttingly frank tale of early midlife crisis and the warping socioeconomic circumstances of White Flight-era Brooklyn. It couldn’t be more relevant to a gentrifying generation of ambivalent adults. Think of it as the ur-Fortress of Solitude — Jonathan Lethem, who wrote a new introduction (and was best friends with Davis’ son Jeremy growing up) does. They’ll talk about it at Park Slope’s Community Bookstore on March 31 (see listing on page 74).
SAD  SMART  ABSURD

David Foster Wallace’s This Is Water: Some Thoughts, Delivered on a Significant Occasion, about Living a Compassionate Life
On April 14, Little, Brown will publish this slim volume containing Foster Wallace’s way-beloved 2005 Kenyon commencement address. Which you have all already read, for free, on the internet, where it lives. Still, nice to have it in book form — and just in time to give as a graduation gift! (Which seems totally corny, until you remember how much of Wallace’s work was devoted to excavating the sincere and truthful core of what most people knee-jerk as corny.)
SAD  HAPPY  SMART  CHALLENGING

Colson Whitehead’s Sag Harbor
Everybody likes Fort Greene’s own Whitehead, for his shapeshifting allegories on race, pop culture, history, and his frankly unfair ease in a vast range of idioms. The parts we’ve read of his fourth novel, Sag Harbor, come closest to the easy, slangy voice of his interviews and essays; the riotously funny, regret-tinged coming-of-age of black teens in the eponymous summer community in the mid-80s, it is, he says, his “Autobiographical Fourth Novel (as opposed to the more usual autobiographical fist novel)”, and we have a hunch this one is going to be big. April 28
HAPPY  SMART

The PEN World Voices Festival
Like CMJ, only free, and catering to a worse-complexioned strain of nerd, this annual festival, sponsored by the international organization of conscientious writer types, brings most of the writers in the world to New York City for marquee group readings, panels, one-on-one talks, special events, and just a general atmosphere of collegial literacy and political awareness that can only come from listening to Paul Auster chat up some Hungarian poet in front of a rapt audience well into the double digits. April 27-May 3
SMART  FREE

Jonathan Safran Foer and Zadie Smith
at NYU
That same week, on the 30th, you can see these universally envied, oft-mocked youngsters in conversation at NYU. We mention this less as a literary event per se than as a chance to pick up earnestly hip college kids, which is a lot harder now that you don’t go to the same bars as them anymore.
CHALLENGING  ABSURD  FREE  HEATED POOL

The L Magazine’s  Literary Upstart: The Search for Pocket Fiction
Like a drunk American Idol for flash fiction, our short story contest has its first semifinal readings on April 16 and May 18, at the Slipper Room. For more info, see our ad on page 78, or email us at fiction@thelmagazine.com
SMART  STUPID  LOW BROW  ABSURD  FUN  SEXY  FREE

FILM
New Directors/New Films
MoMA and the Film Society of Lincoln Center’s annual spotlighting of, well, see the title… runs March 25-April 5. The selection is about as wheat/chaffy as you’d expect, but many of the best indie and arthouse movies of recent years got their first New York exposure here. Watch for Sophie Barthes’ Charliekaufmanesque debut Cold Souls, and the Soviet-era cosmonaut love story Paper Soldier.
SMART  CHALLENGING

The Prix Louis Delluc
at BAM
As everybody knows, the Prix Louis Delluc is an annual award honoring the best film of the year as determined by a group of French critics over an expensive, presumably drunken dinner. From April 16-28, BAM shows classic and recent winners, in a series that plays like a selective history of French Cinema, albeit one shockingly bereft of movies in which Emmanuelle Béart appears naked.
SMART  CHALLENGING  SEXY  ABSURD

Tribeca Film Festival
It still shows too many movies in too many categories screening in too many locations alongside too many corporate special events, but as clusterfucks go, the Tribeca Film Festival (April 22-May 3) is kind of a fascinating one: the kind where avant-garde projector performances pieces, unknown social-issue docs and the latest from high-profile foreign auteurs grapple for space with synergistic keystones (like this year’s Opening Night selection, the premiere of Woody Allen’s Whatever Works) and midday red carpet events wherein a family in from Iowa for the week might get lost and wander upon a half-dozen photographers desultorily snapping pictures of Julia Stiles.
CHALLENGING  ABSURD  EXPENSIVE  LOW BROW

Migrating Forms
The New York Underground Film Festival used to be Tribeca’s woolly flipside — with experimental fare, short-film provocations, indie features and Lacan-influenced cine-essays about Keith Hernandez — until folding up its tent last year. Except that its programmers, now calling themselves Migrating Forms, are returning to Anthology Film Archives from April 15-19.
SMART  CHALLENGING  ABSURD

Star Trek
If you find yourself walking past a movie theater and are suddenly caught amid a teeming mass of very white people in very unflattering maroon bodysuits, ask yourself: “Is today May 8?” If it is, don’t worry! They mean you no harm; they are merely nerds celebrating the release of J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek. If it is not, be afraid. Be very afraid.
ABSURD  STUPID  LOW BROW  FUN

Olivier Assayas’ Summer Hours
If indeed it is May 8, you may also wish to celebrate — in your own, discrete way — this story of three adult children selling off their late mother’s stuff. A contented, melancholy consideration of the meaning accrued in tangible things, it’s a thing of flyaway beauty.
SAD  HAPPY  SMART

Not exclusively a Spring Arts Event, but, still: did you know that you can watch Criterion Collection movies for free, at criterion.com? Every month, the champagne of DVD labels partners with cinephilic social networking website The Auteurs to program a free, streaming Film Festival drawn from their archives. March is Merchant-Ivory month, we’re told.
SMART  CHALLENGING  FREE  CABLE

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