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Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Four excellent art shows to see in New York

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It’s back to school after the holidays, a time for getting back to the life you used to have before the Nov. 6 election. Here are four art shows you should see.

“Storybox,” through Oct. 30 at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York, is a huge survey of art by Cecily Brown. Shot through with absurdist black comedy, the pieces riff on the centuries-old image of African Americans in the American imagination as being natural and impulsive. Stripped down to rudimentary sketches and applied with a broad brush (suggesting that Brown sees the pictures’ shape and structure as the aesthetic subject), the works are monumental and endlessly ironic, even tragic. Brown’s mother died in a car accident when she was 16, and one of the first pieces in the show, a collage of a series of postcards made by her in her childhood, is an unsettling yet hopeful cry of a reminder.

“An America in Denial,” through Oct. 30 at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, highlights the full range of American Islamophobia, through art as disparate as sculptures, photographs, installations and performance. Much of the exhibition is at eye level, with everything from Riff Regan’s Ektachrome photos of Minneapolis storefronts showcasing the faces of various people of color to new-age effects done using Microsoft Paint software on an iPad. Pieces by local artists such as Abdullah Hussein, Terrence Small and Omar Akram and Cage Taylor and others portray characters drawn from modern American culture, a point that the Walker’s Jennifer L. Raffel makes in her program notes.

“The Fabric of the Cosmos,” Oct. 7-Nov. 26 at Paris Gallery in Manhattan, takes its name from the title of the forthcoming book of the same name by artist John Moore. In this show, Moore is one of a group of artists who have incorporated traditional art materials such as carved wood, sculpted steel and graphite to create works representing the universe. In addition to Moore’s. work, there are works by Jennifer Li, Tom Dean, John Barton, Jordan Barling and Ryan Hofferber. (The show closed on Friday.)

“Modernist Mixed-Media,” opening Friday at the Carl J. Moellenberg Gallery in New York City, examines the making of the way black artists made collages, drawings and other abstract artworks in the 20th century. In a venue referred to as “the 60’s room,” a selection of paintings, drawings, paintings with mirrors and painted furniture explains the creative process. The works include those by Katharine Helene and Sandy Black; the exhibition runs through Oct. 28.

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