In New York over Thanksgiving, I saw so many great shows, much of which I want to write about in more depth, and missed so many that I wanted to see. To save you from a similar fate of missing shows in the holiday chaos, allow me to point out three exhibition that will be closing soon after the New Year. Of the shows that I did see, these three stuck out as being well-worth the effort of seeing over the holidays.
- Chris Offili at the New Museum, through January 25
Chris Offili: Night and Day was the biggest (pleasant) surprise for me. I was familiar with the British artist’s work, from his original controversial dung paintings to his red, green, and black makeover at the British Pavilion at the Venice Biennale, but I hadn’t realized how lush and sensuous his large, detailed paintings could be. This gorgeous visual quality was apparent overall, and highlighted by the way they were installed in the museum. Especially in his most recent blue paintings, the viewer gets the rather rare experience of painting as one would with Rothko: an intense bodily confrontation and visual experience that grows over time. However, the subject matter quickly pulls it away from the sublime and into the lyrical.
- Robert Gober at MoMA, through January 18
I, being an ignoramous, or perhaps merely too young, was not familiar with Gober’s work and wasn’t sure what I would make of the artist’s sinks and other examples of warped domesticity at Robert Gober: The Heart Is A Metaphor. What I found was pleasantly tactile work whose logic proceeded like that of dreams, intuitively making sense. It was odd, touching, bizarre–and images of it stick. I only wish I could walk through it again.
- Egon Schiele at Neue Galerie, through January 19
Finally, Egon Schiele: Portraits is a beautiful and thorough show of this Viennese Expressionist painter’s work. The collection overall makes clear the stark break a young Schiele made with Gustav Klimt’s decorative style in favor of the psychological, in a city where Freud was doing his pioneering work in psychoanalysis. Remaining stylized, Schiele veered toward an expression of the inner mind, in ways that feel freshly startling. Similarly, his drawings, sometimes conventional, show his precocious skill as a draftsman.