Yayoi Kusama Cosmic Nature Brooklyn Botanical Garden may New York Art Exhibition

Grandlife guide

Spring Forward: Must-See Art Shows

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Art lovers, get that calendar app fired up and drop in these can’t-miss spring art shows.

Sure, spring doesn’t officially begin until March 19, but the art world is kicking its season off early this year with an exciting, destination-worthy line-up that includes a multidisciplinary, floral Yayoi Kusama takeover (and infinity room!) at the Brooklyn Botanical Garden, The Met’s latest fashion exhibition, and cutting-edge world-class art fairs galore. 

Get that calendar app fired up, art lovers, and drop in these can’t-miss spring art shows (and book tickets via the respective websites).

Yayoi Kusama: Cosmic Nature

Showing at Brooklyn Botanical Garden, May 9 – November 1.

Yayoi Kusama’s most recent infinity mirror room drew major crowds (and Insta snaps), as it always does, at David Zwirner Gallery last year. Her 2020 exhibition at the Brooklyn Botanical Garden, Cosmic Nature, promises not only a brand new infinity room designed for the outdoors but literal flower paintings and installations exhibited across its 250-acre grounds, including four never-before-seen pieces created expressly for the occasion including a 16-foot-tall sculpture, Dancing Pumpkin, that will be juxtaposed against foliage inspired by the birch forests of Matsumoto where Kusama grew up. There, visitors can “plant” artificial coral-colored flowers around an interactive “obliteration greenhouse.” Tickets are now on sale, so book ASAP.

Armory Show Week 

Running March 5 – 8 at Pier 90 and Pier 94 on 12th Avenue.

With a timeline that dates back to 1913’s seminal The International Exhibition of Modern Art, the Armory Show as we know it was founded in 1994 as the Gramercy Art Fair, which ran from 1994 to 1998 at the Gramercy Park Hotel before moving to Lexington Avenue’s 69th Regiment Armory and acquiring its permanent name. Now relocated far west to Piers 90 and 94 on 12th Avenue, over 100 international galleries—from NYC to Berlin, Turkey to Singapore—participate, representing hundreds of creators, many broken into themed sections and curated artist-specific installations. Armory week also includes the concurrent Spring/Break Art Show from March 3 – 9 at UN Plaza, and the Scope Art Show from March 5 – 8 at Metropolitan Pavilion.

Julie Blackmon: Fever Dreams

On show at Fotografiska New York, March 5 – May 3.

Missouri-born photographer Blackmon creates utterly cinematic, theatrically designed scenes of children in suburbia, inspired by her own upbringing in a large family, that are both whimsical and slightly off-kilter—think Sally Mann and Achim Lippoth meet Wes Anderson. Just opened this past spring, New York’s branch of the sleek, edgy Stockholm-based photography museum (Tallinn, Estonia is home to another, and Fotografiska London is in the works) will see several other notable spring exhibitions including Nick Brandt: The Empty World/Inherit The Dust (April 2 – June 21), Cooper & Gorfer’s Between These Folded Walls, Utopia (March 26 – June 7), Naima Green: Brief and Drenching (April 16 – June 14), and a collaboration with VICE Media featuring 14 emerging talents’ work, New Visions (March 13 – July 5).

Studio 54: Night Magic

On show at the Brooklyn Museum, March 13 – July 5.

Although it only existed from April 1977 to February 1980, Ian Schrager and Steve Rubell’s debauched, VIP-filled Studio 54 nightclub lives on through pop culture (see: Pet Shop Boys’ “New York City Boy,” Whit Stillman’s The Last Days of Disco, and the 2018 documentary Studio 54, currently on Netflix). The exhibition showing at Brooklyn Museum from March 13, pays homage with almost 650 items including photography, fashion, paintings, decor, original blueprints and models in a space with lighting inspired by the real deal and a soundtrack that includes Chic’s “Le Freak,” which, as the story goes, was written as a clapback when the band failed to get past the infamously selective door staff.

Salman Toor: How Will I Know

On show at the Whitney, March 20 – July 5. 

Pakistan-born, Brooklyn-based artist Salman Toor receives his first solo museum exhibition at the Whitney—now, that’s prestigious!—comprising new and recent oil paintings that depict “intimate views into the imagined lives of young, queer Brown men.” With classic stylistic elements yet wholly contemporary subject matter—lovers examining a smartphone display, a passenger being scrutinized by airport security officers—“His paintings are so attuned to the subtle nuances of everyday life,” says Whitney curator Christopher Y. Lew. “Toor captures the quiet celebrations and anxieties of the day to day, and it’s thrilling to share his poignant vision with broad audiences.”

We Fight To Bring A Free World

On show at the Jewish Museum, March 20 – August 2.

New York-born and based artist Jonathan Horowitz—who works in video/audio, sculpture, photography and painting—hits some hot, timely buttons while exploring how artists respond to authoritarian regimes, antisemitism, xenophobia and other forms of bigotry. Besides new pieces by Horowitz, the exhibition includes works by Glenn Ligon, Chicano art collective Asco, and Kara Walker, plus 36 newly commissioned posters by contemporary artists. Bring someone you can engage in a dialogue with!

About Time: Fashion and Duration

On show at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, May 7 – Sept 7.

The Costume Institute is taking on Henri Bergson’s concept of la durée (duration) for its 2020 spring exhibition, exploring “how clothes generate temporal associations that conflate past, present, and future,” to Virginia Woolf narration. Expect juxtaposition of past and present fashion—including 19th-century ensembles, Alexander McQueen’s “Bumster” skirt, and Commes des Garçons—and let’s not forget peeping today’s freshest looks (paging Billy Porter!) at the Met Gala that kicks it off.

Frieze New York

Running May 7 – 10 at Randall’s Island Park.

Celebrating its eighth edition, the UK-spawned art fair—sibling to the 27-year-old Frieze London and two-year-old Frieze Los Angeles—will see dozens of international galleries represented. Highlights include a 2020 Spotlight section curated by NYC’s Drawing Center Executive Director Laura Hoptman, a tribute to Chicago female artists in commemoration of women’s US voting rights’ 100th anniversary, solo projects by emerging galleries—the Frame section—and the second edition of the Latin American-focused Diálogos. Be sure to also swing by Rockefeller Center for the free Frieze Sculpture outdoor installations, on view from April 22.

WORDS Lawrence Ferber

IMAGE Yayoi Kusama, 2020. Courtesy of the artist. 

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