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Highlights from Artscope: New York at MoMa, The Met and The New Museum

Updated: May 25, 2023

Our international Artscope connections enjoyed several of the springtime offerings at three iconic museum venues last week–the Museum of Modern Art in Midtown, the Metropolitan Museum on the Upper East Side, and the New Museum Downtown on the Bowery. With the arrival of the art fair to cultural epicentres such as New York, will follow the most carefully-curated programmes to benefit the audience that flock to these locales.


'Wangechi Mutu: Intertwined,' 2023. Exhibition view: New Museum, New York. Courtesy New Museum (Image credit: Dario Lasagni)
'Wangechi Mutu: Intertwined,' 2023. Exhibition view: New Museum, New York. Courtesy New Museum (Image credit: Dario Lasagni)

Museum of Modern Art


On plunging right into MoMA’s vast lobby, you cannot miss (nor should you) the gargantuan, 24-foot-high digital installation Refik Panadol: Unsupervised. What the New York Times reviewer describes as “a 3-D animation of sloshing, puffy liquid fizzing in ectoplasmic earth-tones and rancid pastels” – the data artist trained a sophisticated machine learning model to interpret the publicly available data of MoMA’s collection, reimagine the history of modern art and effectively manifest its possible future course. A crowd puller and pleaser, the work is nevertheless controversial in New York – a visionary glimpse of the next avant-garde or just another screensaver? The installation has no current end date but is ‘ongoing’.


Installation view of 'Refik Panadol: Unsupervised'. Image courtesy of MoMa.
Installation view of 'Refik Panadol: Unsupervised'. 2023. Image courtesy of MoMa.


Pressing on up the stairs, with a glance out to MoMA’s magnificent Sculpture Garden, spend a moment in the soaring space of the central atrium and take in three pieces by master of line, form and pure colour with Ellsworth Kelly: A Centennial Celebration. All too rarely seen given their enormous scale, the works have uninhibited breathing capacity here. The one hundred and four panels of Sculpture for a Large Wall from 1956-57 look particularly majestic as they float at their leisure in this vast multi-height galley. But hurry, this installation comes down June 11th.


Installation view of Ellsworth Kelly's 'Sculpture for a Large Wall', 1956-7. Image courtesy of MoMa.
Installation view of Ellsworth Kelly's 'Sculpture for a Large Wall', 1956-57. 2023. Image courtesy of MoMa.

A quick pivot on this floor to the compact spaces and low-level lighting of MoMA’s Prints and Drawings galleries will bring you to the sublime Georgia O’Keeffe: To See Takes Time. A skillfully selected exhibition of O’Keeffe’s works on paper (but anchored and contextualised by a few well-chosen, and often more familiar paintings), this quietly spoken and well-paced show was picked up for attention by the city’s go-to culture publication The New Yorker, whose critic proposes that while she’s known for her paintings of skulls, flowers and deserts, her early work was stronger. Lovely examples of charcoal drawings, jewel-like watercolours and increasingly skilled printmaking unfold in this visually gorgeous but cerebrally satisfying presentation. Up through August 12th.


Installation view of 'Georgia O'Keefe: To See Takes Time'. Photograph: By Rossilynne Skena Culgan / Time Out
Installation view of 'Georgia O'Keefe: To See Takes Time'. 2023. Photograph: By Rossilynne Skena Culgan / Time Out.

The Metropolitan Museum


Somewhat buried in a ‘destination’ gallery amidst the Met’s Modern and Contemporary wing, Cecily Brown: Death and the Maid is well worth the somewhat labyrinthine search. A tour de force of luscious paint handling this is a showcase of the British artist’s virtuosity. Organized neither chronologically nor thematically but in a doubling back and forth of her looping explorations and revisitations, mirrors and doppelgangers abound and demand close looking. Viewer curiosity is rewarded, however, with gratifying connections and revelations – not to mention multiple jolts of erotic charge. Through December 3rd.


Installation view of 'Cecily Brown: Death and the Maid'. Image courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Installation view of 'Cecily Brown: Death and the Maid'. 2023. Image courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art.


The New Museum


A museum-wide exhibition at the more modestly-scaled, four floor New Museum on the Manhattan’s Lower East Side, Wangechi Mutu: Intertwined engulfs the visitor immediately. A comprehensive retrospective of over 100 works created over 25 years in both her Brooklyn, New York and Nairobi, Kenya studios, this show startles, seduces and mesmerizes. Fantastical creatures of bizarrely hybridised forms are rendered in paint, drawing, photography, sculpture and film – many works encompassing several of these media collaged into one piece. Timely in her address of the power of the feminine but timeless in her use of mythologies, Mutu’s work is unmistakable. London residents may well have had a taste of a couple of her masterworks in the Hayward Gallery’s recent In the Black Fantastic. With a scandalously short run in New York and no indication that it will travel, catch it before it comes down on June 4th or order the beautiful Phaidon Press catalogue online.



For more information on the artists and galleries in this feature, or on our Artscope programme in New York, L.A. and Palm Beach, , please email kate@artscopeintl.com.


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