Jewish Museum, RB Kitaj
In 1969, painter RB Kitaj made 50 screen prints based on books in his library, stains, rips and all—”an intellectual self-portrait”—and through early August, the museum will have 33 of them on display. Well into September, it will also exhibit a comprehensive retrospective (the first in America!) of Jack Goldstein, the Canadian-born painter and filmmaker who transformed familiar images from pop culture by removing certain details and context, most famously with the roaring MGM lion.
Hopper Drawing (through October 6)
Edward Hopper’s widow, Josephine, bequeathed the Whitney hundreds of the artist’s drawings, giving the museum both the most extensive Hopper collection in the world and the ability to stage this show, one of the most comprehensive looks at Hopper ever. Many of Hopper’s most celebrated paintings (including the iconic “Nighthawks,” 1942) are on display here alongside the original pencil drawings. Don’t miss this chance to see one of the masters of American art.
American Museum of Natural History
The museum boasts that it has “one of the largest frog collections in the world,” and through January more than 20 species will be on display (alive, btw) in its “Frogs: A Chorus of Colors” exhibition. Like your animal exhibits to be about animals a little, um, larger? There’s the ongoing “Whales: Giants of the Deep,” where you’ll learn all about them, from their ancestors’ roots on land to the ways humans have revered these mammalian seamonsters. Think frogs and whales are both stupid? Try Jim des Rivières’s 30 large-format prints of moths, which involved “scanning each moth at high resolution to reveal unexpected colors and intricate patterns.” What!
James Turrell (June 21-September 25)
Turrell’s exhibition—his first in a New York museum since 1980—transforms the Guggenheim’s Frank Lloyd Wright rotunda by using light and color to emphasize the empty space around the iconic architecture. This exhibit allows visitors to have a notably new experience in a space that seems immutable because of how well-known it is. Go experience the Guggenheim in a way you never knew was possible.
New Museum, Ellen Gallagher
Ellen Gallagher: Don’t Axe Me (June 19-September 15)
This exhibit is the first major New York museum show of Gallagher’s and spans 20 years of the artist’s work. It includes paintings, drawings, prints, and film installations. This show is an excellent chance to see Gallagher’s newest work alongside some of her most celebrated pieces of the last couple decades, all of it exploring her radical take on modern culture and society.
The first major solo exhibition of contemporary artist El Anatsui, Gravity and Grace (through Aug 4) doesn’t disappoint, taking over the walls of the museum with a breathtaking series of massive, large-scale installations and sculptures the artist has carefully culled from found materials.
There’s not much we can say about John Singer Sargent’s renowned impressionistic watercolors that hasn’t already been said, but with a collection of works that haven’t been on view to the public for decades on display through July 28, there’s no time like the present to reacquaint yourself (and likely discover a few new favorites, too).
Probably the most widely hyped exhibition of the season, the Met’s Punk: Chaos to Couture (through Aug 4) is sort of a must-see, whether you earnestly want to see the inspiration behind several decades worth of design or are just curious to see what it looks like when an art museum recreates a notoriously gross bar bathroom. As a comprehensive collection of landscape paintings, photographs, and genre paintings by the likes of Winslow Homer, the Civil War and American Art exhibition (through Sept 2) offers an impressive overview of American art, and also, a good choice for anyone looking to see the exact opposite of the Punk exhibition.