Everything feels topsy-turvy in New York right now. The Whitney has voted to move downtown, and its current home may be leased to the Met. Marina Abramovic is getting ready to end her run. (How will MoMA's atrium look with the artist absent?) Julie Mehretu is showing bracing new paintings at the Guggenheim. Even London is looking peculiar: Ernesto Neto is gearing up to provide a Surrealist installation at the Hayward Gallery.
This week's openings provide some perhaps equally unusual opportunities. The Austrians are hosting an exhibition themed around the novel 1984 at their cultural forum in midtown, Jack Shainman is showing Jonathan Seliger's enormous reconstructions of everyday objects, and James Hyde is repainting photos of earlier paintings by Stuart Davis. It's a confusing time: as good a time as any to go out and see some new art.
Austrian Cultural Forum, 11 East 52nd Street
Opened Wednesday, May 26
It takes a remarkably permissive government to allow its cultural embassy in the United States base an exhibition on George Orwell's dystopian novel 1984. Who knew that Austria would be that government? The show, focused on art that addresses "our panoptic era," includes Tris Vonna-Michell, Jordan Wolfson, and Cory Arcangel. The forum's building is alone with the trip: a futurist skyscraper bunker that has been wedged into a narrow lot in Midtown, one of the few completed structures of the late architect Raimund Abraham and seems perfectly suited to the show's theme.
Jonathan Seliger, "Spoils"
Jack Shainman Gallery, 513 West 20th Street
Opening Thursday, May 27, 6-8 p.m.
Viewed from afar, Jonathan Seliger's enamel on bronze sculptures have the look of Minimalist sculptures: large cubes, cones, and totems. Up close, though, they're revealed as milk cartons and grocery bags, enlarged to sometimes-gargantuan sizes. Like Robert Therrien, he seems determined to show us how strange and wonderful the objects we use every day just may be, though his objects are more specific than Therrien's: the milk is America's choice, the shopping bags Hermes. They're crowd-pleasing sculptures, to put it another way, and perfect first stop when jumping off the High Line park (whose north end stops just outside Shainman's gallery).
James Hyde, "Stuart Davis Group"
The Boiler, 191 North 4th Street (Brooklyn, NY)
Opening Friday, May 28, 7-10 p.m.
James Hyde picked up a heavy house-painting roller, coated it with the heavy acrylic used by sign painters, and reworked photographic prints of details of two works by the early American abstractionist Stuart Davis. The four resulting works push Davis's 1939 and 1940 paintings closer to the hard-edge, geometric abstractions that he would venture into later in his career. The magisterial Boiler space (a towering, old boiler room) is also just a short walk from McCarren Park, a perfect place to lounge post-opening during these cool summer nights.
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