Rashmi Gill

Our new series, Reasons to Travel Now, highlights the news, events, and openings that have us scoping out plane tickets each day. 

Hannah Walhout
May 16, 2018

Everyone knows New York City is one of the centers of the art world — that’s not news. With dozens of superlative museums and world-class galleries in all five boroughs, this is a make-it-here, make-it-anywhere market for artists from across the globe. But in the next few months, an injection of new shows and innovative projects is making this tried-and-true art destination feel new again.

International artists are debuting commissioned public works, galleries from around the country (and the world) are opening new spaces in the city, and some of New York’s favorite museums are presenting artists you thought you knew in a new and innovative light. There’s even a museum on a barge.

Here’s why art lovers should drop everything and book a flight to NYC.

Installation views of Autocontusión, kurimanzutto new york project space, May 3 – June 22, 2018.
© EPW Studio/Maris Hutchinson, 2018

Out-of-towners are popping up in the city.

One of the most talked-about openings is the New York wing of kurimanzutto, a contemporary art space and incubator in Mexico City founded by gallerists José Kuri and Mónica Manzutto with influential artist Gabriel Orozco. To celebrate its new project space, kurimanzutto new york is hosting a installation from Autocontusión, an ongoing project by Mexican artist Abraham Cruzvillegas. In addition to the project’s signature hanging sculptures, expect some new pieces — including a mural inspired by Manhattan. (Through June 22)

Sailing in from a little closer to home is GlassBarge, a floating glass-making workshop from western New York's Corning Museum of Glass. For the second half of May, the boat will be docked at Brooklyn Bridge Park offering free demonstrations and other events. After its residency, the barge will spend the summer months touring the waterways of New York State as part of the Erie Canal Bicentennial celebrations, sailing up the Hudson, around the Finger Lakes, and eventually back to Corning in September. (May 17 – 28) 

In June, the Museum of Latin American Art in Long Beach, CA, organizes an exhibition of pan-Caribbean art as part of the Getty Foundation’s Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA project. Relational Undercurrents: Contemporary Art of the Caribbean Archipelago at Columbia University’s Wallach Art Gallery presents the work of over 70 artists from Aruba, the Bahamas, Barbados, Cuba, Curaçao, the Dominican Republic, Guadeloupe, Haiti, Jamaica, Martinique, Puerto Rico, St. Martin, and Trinidad and Tobago. (June 1 – September 23) 

Synonym, 2017–2018 Polymer modified gypsum, fiberglass, powder-coated aluminum, and pigment. Courtesy of the artist and Marianne Boesky Gallery, New York.
Rashmi Gill

Notable artists are setting up public works and outdoor installations.

In Madison Square Park, visitors can wander through an exhibition by Syrian-American artist Diana Al-Hadid specially commissioned by the park conservancy. Delirious Matter consists of six sculptures, including human figures, wall installations, and multimedia pieces the artist describes as “a blend between fresco and tapestry,” integrated into the plant life and water elements around the park. Also on the docket: art talks, guided tours, and performance pieces. (Through September 3) 

At Rockefeller Center, prominent German painter and sculptor Anselm Kiefer unveils his first-ever public art commission in the U.S., curated by Public Art Fund: Uraeus, a massive, imposing lead sculpture inspired in part by Nietzsche's Thus Spoke Zarathustra and the religious symbolism of ancient Egypt. (Through July 22) 

Stay up late to visit Times Square, where another colossal work comes to the masses. For this month’s installment of the Midnight Moment series — which injects groundbreaking digital art into the advertising screens around this much-maligned NYC tourist destination — Times Square Arts presents Pattern Language, an ongoing work by Brooklyn-based artist Peter Burr. Be sure to arrive in time for the 11:57 PM start-time; the display runs for three minutes every night in May. Up next: works by animator Jeff Scher in June and British video artist Alice Dunseath in July. (Through May 31)

Later in the summer, two elements of experimental multi-location installation Mel Chin: All Over the Place​​ will also make their way to Times Square, with a 24-foot-tall sculpture and a mixed-reality immersive art piece taking up residence among the throngs of milling tourists. (July 11 – September 5)

Stanley Kubrick, from "Peter Arno...Sophisticated Cartoonist," 1949
Courtesy of the Museum of the City of New York

You can view old favorites in new contexts.

Some of the country's most recognizable artists feature prominently in New York's latest museum shows — but you've never seen them like this before. First, a look at the unlikely early career of one of the most acclaimed filmmakers of the 20th century. Stanley Kubrick, legendary director of such pivotal films as 2001: A Space Odyssey and The Shiningactually started out as a staff photographer at the now-defunct Look magazineThrough a Different Lens: Stanley Kubrick Photographs at the Museum of the City of New York shows the city through the eyes of this young genius — he sold his first photo to the publication when he was just 17 — with over 120 street scenes, subway shots, and portraits of notable NYC characters. (Through October 28)

At the New York Botanical Garden, Georgia O'Keeffe: Visions of Hawai'i highlights the iconic painter's lesser-known subjects — instead of cow skulls and desert plants, this collection showcases the lush scenery, tropical flowers, and exotic fruits that O'Keeffe painted during a two-month journey through the islands. The paintings, paired here with an exhibition of Hawaiian flora in the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory, have not been displayed together in New York in nearly 80 years. (May 19 – October 28)

And the New-York Historical Society is the first stop for the highly anticipated Rockwell, Roosevelt & the Four Freedoms, a touring exhibition that places Norman Rockwell's famous 1943 series — Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Worship, Freedom from Fear, and Freedom from Want — in the context of Rockwell's oeuvre, the FDR presidency, and the contemporary global imagination. For this 75th anniversary tour, the paintings will be displayed alongside historical archival materials and other works from the era. (May 25 – September 2)

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