Davide Sorrenti Photographer Downtown New York

Grandlife guide

Basquiat, Davide Sorrenti & More: Summer Art Picks

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From Sorrenti’s photographs of 90s downtown New York to the Guggenheim’s first artist-curated exhibition—these shows are not to be missed.

Summer exhibitions in New York are a special occurrence because they often include group shows, guest curators, and this summer, several of our top picks feature exhibitions by women. Whether you live in New York and are a regular in the galleries and museums, or visiting from across the US or from abroad, these shows are not to be missed.

Our Beutyfull Future at CC Projects

Hidden in a subterranean gallery at 431 East 6th Street, is a wonderfully curated selection of work by Davide Sorrenti who took hundreds of photographs between the time he started shooting in 1994 and his untimely death in 1997. The exhibition features many works that have never been shown before, including two of his paintings, as well as photographs of friends, documenting downtown life in 90s New York City. A low exposed ceiling, black carpet, and backroom with a few of the artist’s paintings and a video interview he did with Richard Avedon reveal much about a life that was cut short. On my visit, I was fortunate to run into the artist’s mother, Francesca Sorrenti, who spoke of her son’s energy, the mannerisms he displayed when speaking, and how he was in pain nearly all the time. Having suffered from Thalassemia Major, a form of anemia and chronic illness, his work was categorized as “heroin chic” but truly represents a diaristic representation of youth, now frozen in time.

Speaking to Francesca, her sadness was palpable even many years later, and she admitted to halting her own career after Davide’s passing. “I found Davide’s fashion pictures, in particular, to be a little melancholy because of his illness, very otherworldly,” she said. “I’ve never seen his fashion work as being druggy pictures. He did smoke a lot of weed, but he really wasn’t a part of the heroin scene. He probably tried it at least four times, but he was in a lot of pain and had the body of an 80-year-old. All of the boys who were in his transfusion group have all died.” She then gave my dog, who was with me at the gallery, a drink of water —a display of motherly kindness. “His documentary, See Know Evil, has been a huge success but revisiting the work for this show has been bittersweet.” 

Our Beutyfull Future runs through July 28, 2019.

Basquiat’s Defacement: The Untold Story at the Guggenheim

Basquiat is definitely having a moment. The artist who also died at the age of 27, could have never imagined the success his legacy carries today. That said, guest curator Chaédria LaBouvier put together an engaging exhibition that focuses on Basquiat’s The Death of Michael Stewart, informally known as Defacement, and a selection of artists who also were inspired by the same subject matter, a young black artist, killed by police in 1983 after having sprayed graffiti onto a subway wall. Artists in Defacement at the Guggenheim include Lyle Ashton Harris, George Condo, Keith Haring, and Andy Warhol, along with ephemera from the time of Stewart’s death. 

Basquiat’s Defacement: The Untold Story runs through November 6, 2019.

Artistic License: Six takes on the Guggenheim Collection

In Artistic License: Six takes on the Guggenheim Collection six artists were invited to select works from the permanent collection. That said, nearly 300 paintings, sculptures and drawings are on view in the rotunda of the museum, offering a unique perspective from the likes of Cai Guo-Qiang, Paul Chan (a 2014 Hugo Boss Winner), Jenny Holzer, Julie Mehretu, Richard Prince, and Carrie Mae Weems, all who have exhibited in the Guggenheim previously. Any visit to the Guggenheim can also correspond with a walk through Central Park or a visit to The Met.

Artistic License: Six takes on the Guggenheim Collection runs through January 2020.

Mika Rottenberg: Easypieces, Marta Minujín: Menesunda Reloaded, and Lubaina Himid: Work from Underneath at the New Museum

Three women artists recently opened individual solo exhibitions at the New Museum, spanning three floors. They include video artist Mika Rottenberg, neon artist Marta Minujin and painter Lubaina Himid. Each of the three are quite different but the New Museum is definitely making a statement by showing these strong female voices for its summer shows. This is Mika Rottenberg’s first-ever museum exhibition in New York and Lubainsa Himid’s debut solo museum show in the US. Himid, who is London-based and originally from Zanzibar, won the famed Turner Prize in 2017. Her exhibition, Work from Underneath, features various methodologies tackling historical narratives. Mika Rottenberg is debuting Spaghetti Blockchain, a 2019 video installation along with two older works titled, NoNoseKnows (2015) and Cosmic Generator (2017). Marta Minujín is a veteran artist from Buenos Aires and is exhibiting La Menesunda, a site-specific installation originally created for the Museo de Arte Moderno de Buenos Aires in 2015. Through the work, the artist asks viewers to contemplate their role in commercialism, social strati, and urban life.

Mika Rottenberg: Easypieces is on view through September 15, 2019; Marta Minjín: Menesunda Reloaded runs through September 29, 2019; and Lubaina Himid: Work from Underneath runs through September 29, 2019. 

Outlooks: Jean Shin & Mark Dion: Follies at Storm King Art Center 

Whether a tried-and-true New Yorker or visiting from somewhere else, Storm King Art Center is a great day trip for the summer months outside of NYC. This summer marks a new site-specific installation by Jean Shin and a series of structures, ‘follies,’ by Mark Dion. Installed among the center’s permanent collection of large-scale sculptures by Lynda Benglis, Alexander Calder and Daniel Buren to name a few, Shin and Dion’s works are catalysts for interaction and meant to be explored. Shin, in particular, made a table which has already been home to several outdoor meals held on the premises. Dion’s follies, which don’t exactly fit the standard description of the term—“ornamental buildings with no practical purpose, especially a tower or mock-Gothic ruin built in a large garden or park”—can be more closely described as areas a hunter might hide in order to shoot his or her prey. Several of his structures, some of which can be entered, are installed throughout the property and allow for a scavenger hunt of sorts, providing an afternoon of fun, research and leisure on a warm summer day. 

Outlooks: Jean Shin runs through November 24, 2019; Mark Dion: Follies runs through November 11, 2019.

Carmen Herrera: Monumental Structures at City Hall Park

At 104 years old, Carmen Herrera is finally getting the exposure that she rightfully deserves. This summer on July 11, the Public Art Fund, presented a series of public sculptures by Herrera titled Estructuras Monumentales. Herrera is Cuban born, based in New York and has made paintings and sculpture that stretch over a 70-year career. She had a series of paintings on view at The Whitney in 2017 and her sculptures on view in the public sphere emulate the way she works on canvas; bold, graphic, and largely monochromatic. Her work is incredibly inspirational and kudos to curator Daniel S. Palmer for being part of the recognition she has received the last several years even in this late stage of life. 

Carmen Herrera: Monumental Structures runs through November 8, 2019.

WORDS Katy Diamond Hamer

PHOTOGRAPHY Davide Sorrenti courtesy of CC Projects 

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