Now that the holidays are over, its time to get back to the work (and pleasure) of looking at art in NYC. In this section, we’ll be featuring the art fairs/shows that are must-sees as well as listing current museum exhibits around town. We make a point of going to at least one fair that has a theme or items we don’t know much about, then start chatting with the gallery employees to understand why the pieces were chosen. They really enjoy talking about the work, making it a fun and easy way to learn about art.
Late winter in the NYC is often a quiet time of year – except in the art world. From January to April, there are fourteen thematic fairs and counting, with galleries, dealers, auction houses, and museums participating or sponsoring events. Many of the lectures and talks at the fairs are given by experts in their fields and are either included in the cost of admission or listed as a separate charge.
Art Fairs/Shows: January – April
January: Outsider Art Fair (Jan 16-19), NY Antiques Ceramics Fair (Jan 23-26), The Winter Show (Jan 24-Feb 2), and Master Drawings NY (Jan 25-Feb 1). There are also exhibits and symposiums at the major auction houses during these fairs. Sotheby’s (York Avenue and 72nd Street) has Americana Week with selections from four upcoming auctions, on view Jan 16 – 25. Christie’s (20 Rockefeller Plaza, entrance on 49th Street between 5th and 6th Avenues) also has their own Americana Week, displaying items from three upcoming auctions, on view Jan 11 – 24.
February: The Art Show (ADAA) (Feb 27-Mar 1)
March: Volta NY (Mar 4-8), The Armory Show (Mar 5-8), Art on Paper (Mar 5-8), Clio Art Fair (Mar 5-8), Klari/SCOPE NY (Mar 5-8), AABA New York International Antiquarian Book Fair (Mar 5-8), Asia Week (Mar 12-19), and the Affordable Art Fair (Mar 26-29)
Museum Shows – January to April 2020
Late winter is also often a slow time at museums, but it’s an excellent time to catch up on the smaller shows that might be overlooked in favor of the blockbuster spectaculars that are so popular with visitors. We like to visit the permanent collection spaces at this time of year: not only are those galleries quieter than the special exhibit areas, but it gives us a chance to see old favorites, discover new pieces, and generally geek out with all the art. Check out the listings below to see what’s happening in NYC between January and April.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art (main location) has three shows opening in late winter: Sahel: Art and Empires on the Shores of the Sahara (January 30 – May 10), Photography’s Last Century: The Ann Tenenbaum and the Thomas H. Lee Collections (March 10 – June 28), and Making the Met, 1870 – 2020, a survey through objects of The Met’s collecting history (March 30 – August 2). Other exhibitions include Wangechi Mutu: The NewOnes, will free us (until June 8), Felix Vallotton: Painter of Disquiet (until January 26), Making Marvels: Science & Splendor at the Courts of Europe (until March 1), and In Pursuit of Fashion: The Sandy Schreier Collection (until May 17). The Met Breuer has Gerhard Richter: Painting After All (March 4 – July 5) and From Géricault to Rockburne: Selections from the Michael and Juliet Rubenstein Gift (January 29 – March 29)
MoMA’s recent reopening on October 21 with redesigned permanent collection spaces, has been a huge success (and also received a huge amount of criticism for what they left out). Their current exhibitions are: member: Pope.L, 1978-2001 (until February 1), Energy (until January 26) Haegue Yang: Handles (until April 12) and Sur moderno: Journeys of Abstraction (until March 14), to name just a few.
The Whitney currently has three shows: Order and Ornament: Roy Lichtenstein’s Entablatures (September 27 until late 2020), Pope.L: Choir (October 10 – Winter 2020), and Making Knowing: Craft in Art 1950-2019 (November 22 – January 2021). Three new shows for the late winter season are Vida Americana: Mexican Muralists Remake American Art, 1925 – 1945 (February 17 – May 17), Agnes Pelton: Desert Transcendentalist (March 13 – June 28), and Salman Toor: How Will I Know (March 20 – July 5).
The New Museum has Hans Haacke: All Connected (until January 26, 2020), then brings in three shows for the late winter-early spring season: Daiga Grantina: What Eats Around Itself (January 21 – May 10), Peter Saul: Crime and Punishment (February 11 – May 31) and Jordan Casteel: Within Reach (February 19 – May 24)
With the smaller museums in New York City, visitors have the best of all worlds: exhibits exploring little known facets of art history, lovingly assembled collections, and some of the latest ideas in art and design explained in a thoughtful and engaging way. It’s the kind of thing a big institution really can’t do well, so it’s fortunate we have so many other venues available here.
The American Museum of Folk Art is showing Memory Palaces: Inside the Collection of Audrey B. Heckler (September 17, 2019 – January 26, 2020). The show is an excellent way to learn about the wide variety of imagery in folk art, a genre that still struggles to get the attention it deserves. The next show is American Perspectives: Stories from the American Folk Art Museum Collection (February 11 – May 31), a selection of works with fascinating backstories.
Asia Society has one show for the late winter season: The Art of Impermanence: Japanese Works from the John C. Weber Collection and Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection (February 11 – April 26) with calligraphy, ceramics, lacquers, paintings, sculptures, and textiles on view.
Bronx Museum of the Arts has two exhibits this winter: Henry Chalfant: Art vs Transit, 1977-1987 (September 25, 2019 – March 8, 2020), with photographs documenting the ephemeral work of graffiti artists and writers who used NYC’s subways as their canvas and The Life and Times of Alvin Baltrop (August 7, 2019 – February 9, 2020) featuring photographs of the underground gay culture of the 1970s. In late February, the Museum presents José Parlá: It’s Yours (February 26 – August 16), the first solo exhibit of this local artist with an international following and in April the exhibit Sanford Biggers: Code Switch (April 8 – September 6) features over 60 quilt-based-mixed media works referencing American history and linking it to cultures around the world
Brooklyn Museum has the current exhibits: JR: Chronicles (October 4, 2019 – May 3, 2020), the first major North American exhibition for the artist and One: Xu Bing, a tribute to Walt Whitman (October 25, 2019 – April 26, 2020). They’re also finishing a reinstallation of the Arts of Asia galleries (opening October 25, 2019). Upcoming winter shows are: Out of Place: A Feminist Look at the Collection (January 24 – September 13), Jacques-Louis David Meets Kehinde Wiley (January 24 – May 10), Climate in Crisis: Environmental Change in the Indigenous Americas (February 14, 2020 – January 10, 2021), African Arts-Global Conversations (February 14 – November 15), and Studio 54: Night Magic (March 13 – July 5)
Cooper Hewitt presents Face Values: Exploring Artificial Intelligence (September 20, 2019 – May 17, 2020), Nature by Design: Selections from the Permanent Collection (ongoing rotating selections), and Herbert Bayer: Bauhaus Master (through April 5)
The Frick Collection has Henry Arnhold’s Meissen Palace: Celebrating a Collector (begins November 7, 2019) and the house with its stunning collections of paintings, sculptures, and decorative arts is always open to the public. We recommend picking up the free audio guide (or downloading it on your phone) because there are few labels on the objects.
The Jewish Museum has Edith Halpert and the Rise of American Art (October 18, 2019 – February 9, 2020), about the first woman gallerist to open a commercial gallery in Greenwich Village and Rachel Feinstein: Maiden, Mother, Crone (November 1, 2019 – March 22, 2020), a multi-media exhibition.
The Leslie-Lohman Museum of Art has a powerful exhibit titled On Our Backs: The Revolutionary Art of Queer Sex Work (September 28, 2019 – January 19, 2020) examining facets of the history and culture of queer sex work and its relationship to activism and artistic inspiration. The museum has two shows for late winter: Uncanny Effects: Robert Giard’s Currents of Connection (January 22 – April 19), with photographic work from all aspects of his career and Other Points of View (February 8 – May 17), discussing the work of View magazine in the mid-1940s, with its editorial focus on lesser known art forms of the time.
The Morgan Library and Museum has several shows closing and opening in late winter: Guercino: Viruoso Draftsman (October 4, 2019 – February 2, 2020), Illusions of the Photographer: Duane Michals at The Morgan (October 25, 2019 – February 2, 2020), Alfred Jarry: The Carnival of Being (January 24 – May 10), Jean-Jacques Lequeu: Visionary Architect. Drawings from the Bibliothèque nationale de France (January 31 – May 10), The Book of Ruth: Medieval to Modern (February 14 – June 14), and The Drawings of Al Taylor (February 21 – May 24).
The Museum at FIT currently has one exhibit at this time: Power Mode: The Force of Fashion (December 10, 2019 – May 9, 2020). Two new shows are slated for late winter: Ballerina: Fashion’s Modern Muse (February 11 – April 18) and Eleanor Lambert: Empress of Seventh Avenue (March 3 – March 28), with special events discussing her work and legacy in the fashion industry.
Museum of Art and Design (MAD) has The World of Anna Sui (September 12, 2019 – February 23, 2020) and Vera Paints a Scarf: The Art and Design of Vera Neumann, (until January 26). A new long-term show opens in February: Jewelry Stories: 1947 to Now (February 13, 2020 – January 24, 2021)
The Museum of Chinese in America has three long-term exhibits on now: With a Single Step: Stories in the Making of America (now until December 31, 2020) and Gathering: Collecting and Documenting Chinese American History (now until March 22, 2020) and The Chinese Helped Build the Railroad – The Railroad Helped Build America (now until March 22, 2020). In April, the new show Godzilla vs the Art World: 1990-2001 (April 23 – September 13) examines the groundbreaking work of Godzilla: Asian American Art Network, an organization that protested, confronted and ultimately changed ideas and conversations about contemporary Asian art within the broader context of the American art world.
Museum of the City of New York has three current exhibits as well as several ongoing shows. Urban Indian: Native New York Now (until March 8) discusses the native presence and its cultural/political/social impact on the city. Cultivating Culture: 34 Institutions that Changed New York (until February 9) is an exploration of the city’s cultural landscape. Who We Are: Visualizing New York by the Numbers (until July 19) is a timely examination of the data collected by census work and how it may be interpreted to understand the complexity of our population’s backgrounds, interests, and needs. Late winter brings three new shows: Collecting New York’s Stories (starting January 22), City/Game: Basketball in New York (starting February 14), and The City Within: Brooklyn Photographs by Alex Webb and Rebecca Norris Webb (starting March 11).
National Museum of the American Indian presents Stretching the Canvas: Eight Decades of Native Painting (November 16, 2019 – Fall 2021), works that shatter the artistic stereotypes associated with Native creativity and originality.
Neue Galerie has a superlative collection of early 20th century Austria and German art, set in a beautiful Fifth Avenue mansion. The late winter exhibition will be in open in February with Madame D’Ora (February 20 – June 8), a fascinating survey of the life and career of this Austrian photographer.
New-York Historical Society has several shows at this time: Beyond Midnight: Paul Revere (September 6, 2019 – January 12, 2020) examines the life and career of this American patriot, Mark Twain and the Holy Land (October 25, 2019 – February 2, 2020) discusses this famous trip and the book that inspired thousands of writers since, and Artist in Exile: The Visual Diary of Baroness Hyde de Neuville (November 1, 2019 – January 26, 2020), a groundbreaking exhibition of this little known European artist’s time in America, and Life Cut Short: Hamilton’s Hair and the Art of Mourning Jewelry (December 20, 2019 – May 10, 2020). January starts with one new exhibit: In Profile: A Look at Silhouettes (January 17 – April 5), and February has three: Bill Graham and the Rock & Roll Revolution (February 14 – August 23), Women March (February 28 – August 30), and Colonists, Citizens, Constitutions (February 28 – May 31)
Poster House is New York City’s latest museum, using poster art to explore cultural history and graphic design from around the world. Current shows are Baptized by Beefcake: The Golden Age of Hand-Painted Movie Posters from Ghana (until February 16), 20/20 Insight: Posters from the 2017 Women’s March (until February 10), Posters of the Japan Red Cross Society (until February 16). February has two new exhibits: The Sleeping Giant: Posters & the Chinese Economy (February 27 – August 23) and The Swiss Grid (February 27 – August 23).
Queens Museum continues with the following shows: The Art of Rube Goldberg (October 6, 2019 – February 9, 2020), a survey of the artist’s career from his famous invention drawings to later work that earned him a Pulitzer Prize in 1948, American Artist: My Blue Window (October 6, 2019 – February 16, 2020) a multi-media installation examining the issues of data collecting by law enforcement and the impact on black communities, Nicolas Moufarrege: Recognize My Sign (October 6, 2019 – February 9, 2020), the first solo exhibition of this artist’s work in New York City. A new exhibition cycle starts April 5, 2020: Ulrike Müller and Amy Zion: The Conference of Animals, a collaboration between Muller’s painting and Zion’s curated exhibit of drawings by NYC children; Bruce Davidson: People in Public Spaces, photographs recently acquired for the permanent collection; and After the Plaster Foundation, a multi-artist, multi media exhibit discussing issues of gentrification and artists’ needs.