Walking into the ground floor gallery of The Grolier Club, it’s nearly impossible to comprehend the rarity and superlative quality of the material in Treasures from the Hispanic Society Library (September 29 – December 18, 2021). Covering eight centuries of Spanish and Latin American history, the one hundred and eight items on view are not only extraordinary, but also bring the Hispanic world vividly to life. There are diplomatic letters between kings and queens, illuminated manuscripts and prayerbooks, leather-tooled bindings for documents establishing noble titles, maps and sea charts, books from the Golden Age of Spanish literature, 16th century Mexican indigenous manuscripts, and the first books to be printed in the Americas as well as India, China, and the Philippines. It’s even more astonishing to realize that this selection is merely scratching the surface when it comes to the holdings of the Hispanic Society Library, founded by Archer M. Huntington in the late 1880s and located in upper Manhattan. With its extensive book and manuscript collection, along with other research materials, it is the premier destination of scholars and students working in Latin American and Spanish studies, no matter the period or subject. Because of this, the public does not have the same level of access as they do at other libraries (like NYPL), so this exhibit is a unique opportunity to appreciate the Hispanic Society Library itself, as well as the fascinating people who created these works.
The Grolier Club, 47 East 60th Street, Hours: Mon – Sat: 10-5, Admission: Free. THE GROLIER CLUBS REQUESTS ALL VISITORS MAKE A FREE RESERVATION TO SEE THE EXHIBTION, CLICK HERE. Current NYC COVID requirements for indoor entertainment apply, click here for more information.
Admired by millions across the world, the artwork of M. C. Escher has become a visual shorthand for everything from mathematics to science fiction and fantasy novels. But how many people have seen more than half a dozen of his images? Not as many as you’d think, which is why M. C. Escher: Prints, Drawings, Watercolors and Textiles (September 18 – November 20, 2021), curated by Dr. David Steel, is a great opportunity to explore the work of this OpArt pioneer. Featuring 75 works tracing his stylistic changes and imagination, there are drawings, prints, watercolors, and an extremely rare textile piece from Escher’s personal collection on view in the gallery, providing visitors with a new understanding of the artist’s unique ability to create believable three-dimensional worlds in a stunning variety of media.
Featuring a dynamic exhibition space to match its subject, the Cooper Hewitt presents Underground Modernist: E. McKnight Kauffer (September 15, 2021 – April 10, 2022), a retrospective of the American graphic designer whose work influenced British design for decades. Kauffer is best remembered for posters advertising the London Underground transit system, but also created images and branding campaigns for arts organizations, book publishers, and various commercial products. His graphics often drew on a multitude of artistic sources from classical to contemporary, while delivering a concise message easily understood at a glance, making him one of the top designers in the era between the wars. Another excellent feature of the show is the wall graphic that connects Kauffer’s work and friendships to leading figures in the arts, advertising, business, retail, and public services, providing context for the designer’s inspirations and personal history.
Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, 2 East 91st Street, Hours: Thur – Mon: 10-6, Admission: Free through October 31, 2021, admission fees apply after this date. TIMED ENTRY TICKETS ARE CURRENTLY REQUIRED TO VISIT THE MUSEUM. Click here to reserve your ticket. A small number of tickets are released daily for walk-up visitors, on arrival, ask the museum staff for details. Current NYC COVID requirements for indoor entertainment apply, click here for more information.
“From Surface to Space”: Max Bill and Concrete Sculpture in Buenos Aires – Institute for Studies on Latin American Art (ISLAA)
“From Surface to Space”: Max Bill and Concrete Sculpture in Buenos Aires (August 19 – October 30, 2021) curated by Francesca Ferrari, captures the essence of a dialog between idea and form with a precisely curated collection of 15 pieces summarizing the concrete art movement in Argentina as influenced by the writings of Max Bill, the Swiss artist, architect, and designer. Many avant-garde artists’ groups of the 1940s and 50s were intrigued by the idea that artworks could be non-representational and non-symbolic, but still evoke an emotional response in the viewer through form, manipulation of positive/negative space within and around the object; and texture. Bill’s use and discussion of geometric and mathematical principles to create a rational abstraction for sculpture was refined by these artists, in response, he adapted his ideas further to embrace their explorations and results.
ISLAA, 50 East 78th Street, Hours: Tue: 2-5, Wed – Fri: 2-7, Admission: Free. The gallery encourages visitors to make an online appointment, click here for details. Walk-in visits are allowed but visitors may be asked to wait, to comply with health and safety requirements for indoor gatherings. Current NYC COVID requirements for indoor entertainment apply, click here for more information.
The long overdue presentation Dindga McCannon: In Plain Sight (September 8 – October 17, 2021) is a deep dive into the work of an artist who has been an arts activist, mentor, and leader for decades within the Black arts community. Engaging in a extensive range of media from printmaking to sculpture, her pieces reflect interests in history, identity, and community. She is especially known for her fiber art: pieced, sewn, and painted works often celebrating Black women’s achievements in various fields. In addition to this, McCannon’s first solo show in a gallery setting, there will be a catalog published by the Fridman Gallery focusing on her practice and oeuvre.
Featuring an unusual take on a classic motif, Ravishing: The Rose in Fashion (August 6 – November 28, 2021) presents accessories, clothes, and textiles influenced by the famous plant’s color, shape, and symbolism through the centuries. The exhibit contains over 130 objects from the 1750s to the present and explores the endless fascination that designers and the public have for this popular flower. A special feature of this show at FIT was a virtual symposium held in April 2021, with curators, researchers, educators, and others, to learn more or watch their presentations, click here.
The Museum at FIT, Seventh Avenue and 27th Street, Hours: Wed – Fri: 12-8, Sat – Sun: 10-5, Admission: Free. Current NYC COVID requirements for indoor entertainment apply, click here for more information.
For some reason, when we think of folk art, we imagine it’s all small-scale objects. Perhaps that’s because of the craft element: it’s easier to make things that fit the hand or are scaled for human use. Another explanation may be that when creators use scrap or discarded items, it’s the material’s small size that defines a final product. At any rate, this mind set goes a long way to explain why walking into the exhibit American Weathervanes: The Art of the Winds (June 23, 2021 – January 2, 2022) was such a surprise: large metalwork sculptures in a wide variety of shapes and styles, with extraordinary levels of detail on their surfaces, all having a wonderful visual appeal while also being useful objects. In addition, rare examples of patterns, manufacturers’ advertisements, and one-off creations are on display, showing how this classic element was featured within the various architectural styles in 18th to 20th century America. The entire show is a delight and makes us wish that modern buildings could find a way to include these quirky yet functional objects in their designs.
American Folk Art Museum, 2 Lincoln Square (Columbus Avenue between 65th and 66th Streets), Hours: Wed – Sun: 11:30-6, Admission: Free. The museum requests that all visitors make a free reservation BEFORE arriving, details are here. Current NYC COVID requirements for indoor entertainment apply, click here for more information.