Art Shows You Need to See This Month

Sahar Khan | October 30, 2017 | Feature Features

November's new art shows promise an exchange of cultural ideas and an indulgence in self-portraiture by artists across the centuries.
“Study for Homage to the Square: Consent” by Josef Albers at the Guggenheim

BETWEEN 1935 AND 1967, Josef Albers and his wife visited Mexico and other Latin American countries almost a dozen times, trips that spurred the imagination of the multimedia abstract artist. Albers took hundreds of black-and-white photographs of the shrines, sanctuaries and pyramids he saw. These photographs are the subjects of a new show, Josef Albers in Mexico, at the Guggenheim. Albers’ photography is still underappreciated, a serious negligence given its influence on some of his most famous artworks, including his Homage to the Square and Variant/Adobe series. Many of the pieces have never been exhibited before. Seeing the monuments that caught Albers’ eye in Latin America can help scholars interpret his paintings and prints, and the larger public to understand that cultural influence cannot be stopped by a wall. Nov. 3-Feb. 18, 2018, 1071 Fifth Ave.

Through a psychedelic swirl of vivid colors without the endorphin release, Edvard Munch: Between the Clock and the Bed at The Met Breuer showcases the early 20th century Norwegian artist’s celebrated ability to connect to modern man’s (and woman’s) battle with anxiety. Forty-five compositions spanning six decades explore Munch’s tendency to revisit and rework themes from his earlier works—Munch believed his biggest breakthroughs happened later in life—many of which delve into the psyche’s dark underbelly. Six of the artworks will be shown in the United States for the first time, including 1892’s “Despair,” which was the compositional genesis for “The Scream,” while 16 self-portraits, which Munch called “self-scrutinies,” follow the artist from youth to old age. They lead off with one of the last works Munch painted, “Between the Clock and the Bed,” a scene that depicts the artist standing between a handless grandfather clock and his bed, his studio in the background, perhaps a reminder to himself and a warning to the viewer of the race against time to accomplish as much as possible before it is time to tuck into the eternal bed. Nov. 15-Feb. 4, 2018, 945 Madison Ave.

This year marks the 400th birthday of Spanish master Bartolomé Esteban Murillo, and The Frick Collection celebrates with Murillo: The Self-Portraits. While best known for his religious iconography and genre scenes like street urchins of Seville or the domestically enigmatic “Two Women at a Window,” Murillo also painted half- and full-length portraits of his friends and patrons, which is what The Self-Portraits commemorates. Given modern culture’s obsession with taking selfies, the idea behind the exhibit speaks to the very human desire to be seen in the moment and documented for posterity. The show displays 17 paintings and works on paper, including Murillo’s two surviving self-portraits, one as a young man, the other the visage of a weary middle-aged man, which will be shown together for the first time since they were documented in Murillo’s son’s art collection inventory in 1709. Nov. 1-Feb. 4, 2018, 1 E. 70 St.


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