20 Art Exhibitions to View in N.Y.C. This Weekend

20 Art Exhibitions to View in N.Y.C. This Weekend


‘OCEAN WONDERS: SHARKS!’ at the New York Aquarium (ongoing). For years, the aquarium’s 14-acre campus hunkered behind a wall, turning its back to the beach. When aquarium officials last year finally got around to completing the long-promised building that houses this shark exhibition, maybe the biggest move, architecturally speaking, was breaking through that wall. The overall effect makes the aquarium more of a visible, welcoming presence along the boardwalk. Inside, “Ocean Wonders” features 115 species sharing 784,000 gallons of water. It stresses timely eco-consciousness, introducing visitors to shark habitats, explaining how critical sharks are to the ocean’s food chains and ecologies, debunking myths about the danger sharks pose to people while documenting the threats people pose to sharks via overfishing and pollution. The narrow, snaking layout suggests an underwater landscape carved by water. Past the exit, an outdoor ramp inclines visitors toward the roof of the building, where the Atlantic Ocean suddenly spreads out below. You can see Luna Park in one direction, Brighton Beach in the other. The architectural point becomes clear: Sharks aren’t just movie stars and aquarium attractions. They’re also our neighbors — as much a part of Coney Island as the roller coasters and summer dreams. (Michael Kimmelman)
718-265-3474, nyaquarium.com

‘BETYE SAAR: THE LEGENDS OF “BLACK GIRL’S WINDOW”’ at the Museum of Modern Art (through Jan. 4). “Black Girl’s Window,” which consists of an old window frame that Saar filled with a constellation of images, is the focus of this exhibition, one of several helping to reopen MoMA. Concentrating on Saar’s early years as an artist, it tracks the experiments in printmaking and assemblage that led her to arrive at the titular work. Despite the unusual color of the gallery’s deep purple walls, the show is relatively modest — a scholarly study of a specific period, anchored by MoMA’s recent acquisition of a group of 42 of her works on paper. Two pieces from 1972 that represent her shift from the mystical to the political — “Black Crows in the White Section Only,” which brings together a variety of racist advertisements, and “Let Me Entertain You,” which shows a minstrel singer with a guitar transforming into a black liberation fighter with a rifle — serve as a kind of coda. Their appearance at the end offers a tantalizing glimpse of the iconoclastic artist Saar was on her way to becoming. (Jillian Steinhauer)
212-708-9400, moma.org

‘STONEWALL 50 AT THE NEW-YORK HISTORICAL SOCIETY’ (through Dec. 1). For its commemoration of the anniversary of the Stonewall rebellion, the society continues with two micro-shows: “By the Force of Our Presence: Highlights From the Lesbian Herstory Archives” documents the founding in 1974 — by Joan Nestle, Deborah Edel, Sahli Cavallero, Pamela Olin and Julia Stanley — of a compendious and still-growing register of lesbian culture. And “Say It Loud, Out and Proud: Fifty Years of Pride” turns a solo spotlight on charismatic individuals: Storme DeLarverie (1920-2014), Mother Flawless Sabrina/Jack Doroshow (1939-2017), Keith Haring (1958-90) and Rollerena Fairy Godmother. (Cotter)
212-873-3400, nyhistory.org

‘T. REX: THE ULTIMATE PREDATOR’ at the American Museum of Natural History (through Aug. 9). Everyone’s favorite 18,000-pound prehistoric killer gets the star treatment in this eye-opening exhibition, which presents the latest scientific research on T. rex and also introduces many other tyrannosaurs, some discovered only in this century in China and Mongolia. T. rex evolved mainly during the Cretaceous period to have keen eyes, spindly arms and massive conical teeth, which packed a punch that has never been matched by any other creature; the dinosaur could even swallow whole bones, as affirmed here by a kid-friendly display of fossilized excrement. The show mixes 66-million-year-old teeth with the latest 3-D prints of dino bones, and also presents new models of T. rex as a baby, a juvenile and a full-grown annihilator. Turns out this most savage beast was covered with — believe it! — a soft coat of beige or white feathers. (Farago)
212-769-5100, amnh.org

‘VIOLET HOLDINGS: LGBTQ+ HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE N.Y.U. SPECIAL COLLECTIONS’ at Bobst Library (through Dec. 31). With the Stonewall Inn now a National Historic Landmark (and a bar again; it was a bagel shop in the 1980s), nearby New York University has produced a homegrown archival exhibition at Bobst Library, across the park from Grey Art Gallery. Organized by Hugh Ryan, it takes the local history of queer identity back to the 19th century with documents on Elizabeth Robins (1862-1952), an American actor, suffragist and friend of Virginia Woolf, and forward with ephemera related to the musician and drag king Johnny Science (1955-2007) and the African-American D.J. Larry Levan (1954-92), who, in the 1980s, presided, godlike, at a gay disco called the Paradise Garage, which was a short walk from the campus. (Cotter)
212-998-2500, library.nyu.edu

‘PUNK LUST: RAW PROVOCATION 1971-1985’ at the Museum of Sex (through Nov. 30). This show begins with imagery from the Velvet Underground: The 1963 paperback of that title, an exploration of what was then called deviant sexual behavior and gave the band its name, is one of the first objects on display. Working through photos, album art and fliers by artists like Iggy Pop, the New York Dolls, Patti Smith and, yes, the Sex Pistols, the exhibition demonstrates how punk offered a space for sexual expression outside the mainstream. In the story told by “Punk Lust,” much of it laid out in placards by the writer and musician Vivien Goldman, one of the show’s curators, graphic sexual imagery is a tool for shock that frightens away the straight world and offers comfort to those who remain inside. While some of the power dynamic is typical — underage groupies cavorting with rock stars — images from female, queer and nonbinary artists like Jayne County and the Slits make a strong case for sex as an essential source of punk liberation. (Mark Richardson)
212-689-6337, museumofsex.com



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