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10 Must See Painting Shows: May 2012

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May is traditionally the last month of the art world "season." As summer looms, rhythms change and many galleries choose to mount group exhibitions instead of solo shows. It makes sense, after all. Why try to promote an individual's work when your clients are scattered to various vacation spots around the world? Fortunately, many galleries are ending the season with a bang and presenting A-level solo shows by artists of all career points.

On the higher end of the scale are the exhibitions of established painters like Brice Marden, Bill Jensen and Carroll Dunham. All three are on view this month with shows that demonstrate the continued vitality of their respective projects. Dunham's show at Blum & Poe in Los Angeles, which is effectively a retrospective of his works on paper, is not to be missed. Many feel that he treads too much on the territory carved out by Philip Guston, but this exhibition shows him to be a mature artist with a pictorial language that is all his own. And speaking of paper, New York's Acquavella Galleries has organized a tightly curated show of works on paper by the late Lucian Freud that offers a chance to see works from throughout his long career.

May 2012 Must See
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New York is always filled with painting shows, but there is truly a lot to see this month. Lower East Side galleries have a number of shows with emerging artists who are pushing painting in all sorts of directions, Michael DeLucia, Noam Rappaport and Ned Vena, among them. At the artist run Canada gallery, Xylor Jane has just opened an exhibition of new work; Jane is a fascinating painter whose compositional strategies spring from mathematics. Just over the bridge in Brooklyn, past New American Paintings' cover artist Ryan Mrozowski has opened a show at Pierogi that is well worth leaving "the island" for.

Chelsea boasts a number of great shows. Don't miss the work of our old friend Chuck Webster at Zieher Smith; his latest paintings are an extraordinary integration of his painting and drawing practice. Dana Schutz, the artist who many credit as having rejuvenated the activity of figure painting in the early 2000s, opens her first solo exhibition at Friedrich Petzel this month after migrating from her long time dealer Zach Feuer. There is no way to overstate Schutz's importance. From our perspective at New American Paintings, she is one of the most important artists to emerge in the past decade, not only because of the quality of her work, but due to her almost instantaneous influence over a younger generation of painters.

Please visit the New American Paintings BLOG for a more comprehensive list of must-see painting shows in May.

New American Paintings magazine is a juried exhibition-in-print and the largest series of artist competitions in the United States. Working with experienced curators, New American Paintings reviews the work of thousands of emerging artists each year. Forty artists are selected to appear in each bi-monthly edition, many of whom go on to receive substantial critical and commercial success. Additional content focuses on the medium of painting, those who influence its direction, and the role contemporary painting plays within the art world.Visit New American Paintings for more information or to subscribe.