Weekend Update: 03.10.2023

By Peggy Roalf   Friday March 10, 2023

Continuing: Kara Walker: Harper’s Pictorial History of the Civil War (Annotated) at N-YHS

Kara Walker’s work, in which a silhouette becomes far more than a figure, has stirred controversy for its use of exaggerated caricatures that reflect long-standing racialized and gendered stereotypes and for its lurid depictions of history. In this new exhibition, a series of 15 prints based on the two-volume anthology published in 1866 and 1868, Walker comments on the omission of African Americans from this narrative and urges viewers to consider the persistence of violent caricature and stereotype today. 

To create her prints, Walker enlarged select illustrations and then overlaid them with large stenciled figures. The silhouettes visually disrupt the scenes and suffuse them with scenarios evocative of the painful past left out of Harper’s original images. The Center for Women’s History contextualizes the exhibition—which originated at the Smithsonian American Art Museum—with objects, images, and documents from New-York Historical’s collections.Public Programs

Through June 11 at New-York Historical Society, 170 Central Park West, New York, NY Info 


Continuing: New work by Rachel Whiteread at Luhring Augustine

Rachel Whiteread has made a career of materializing the traces of life. Her casts of architectural negative space in industrial materials like resin and concrete are uncanny imprints of the spaces we take for granted. In this new exhibition, the artist creates a high-low dialogue: discarded, seemingly inconsequential items are rendered in often precious, high-art materials, which transforms and elevates them from their original context and reading.

The eye is tricked, and careful observation is required of the viewer. What appears to be spray-painted cardboard is in reality patinated bronze or silver, or shimmering metallic papier-mache, and assemblages of found materials are in reality amalgams of both found objects and hand-crafted simulacra. Cartons, boxes, branches, crates, cardboard, packing materials, and pipes overlap and interchange, creating an installation that becomes a pleasing visual puzzle.

Through April 22 at Luhring Augustine, 17 White Street, New York, NY Info




Continuing: A Movement in Every Direction at the Brooklyn Museum 

This multimedia exhibition brings together twelve contemporary artists’ reflections on the Great Migration, when around six million Black individuals relocated from the rural South to northern and midwestern cities as a result of organized racial violence and poor social conditions. These newly commissioned works ranging from large-scale installation, immersive film, and tapestry to photography, painting, and mixed media. Featured artists are Akea Brionne, Mark Bradford, Zoë Charlton, Larry W. Cook, Torkwase Dyson, Theaster Gates Jr., Allison Janae Hamilton, Leslie Hewitt, Steffani Jemison, Robert Pruitt, Jamea Richmond-Edwards, and Carrie Mae Weems.

A Movement in Every Direction presents a departure from traditional accounts of the Great Migration, which are often understood through a lens of trauma, and reconceptualizes them through stories of self-possession, self-determination, and self-examination. While the South did lose generations of courageous, creative, and productive Black Americans due to racial and social inequities, the exhibition expands the narrative by introducing people who stayed in, or returned to, the region during this time. Above: Detail from Robert Pruitt’s “A Song for Travelers” (2022)

Through June 25 at the Brooklyn Museum, 200 Eastern Parkway, Brooklyn, NY Info 

Continuing: Leanne Shapton | Books, Skirts, Figurines at Picture Room

Artist/ writer/publisher Leanne Shapton, co-founder with Jason of J&L Books, presents paintings that depict items for sale that had been photographed for secondhand marketplace listings. Shapton shows us that this mostly amateur type of photography is a language in itself—a vernacular and virtual gallery of poses, lighting, details and abstractions that have collective and specific meaning.

The photographs that foreground these items for sale, while pragmatic, meet along vectors of seduction and vectors of value. In paintings from these photograph, the artist attempts to study their particular language conventions, and inherent ability to transmit desire.

Picture Room, 117 Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn, NY Info



And Beyond: March 14: Tony Cragg | Riot at Lisson

With growing concerns about climate change and carbon forms, an early work by British sculptor, Tony Cragg, is getting a second run. His seminal 1987 work, Riot, comprised of found, discarded plastic objects, is readable as a response to the political and social turbulence and civil disorder of 1980s Britain and is considered as one of his most significant works.

Composed of a bright patchwork mosaic of plastic bits and pieces, the silhouettes formed in this way have surprising three-dimensionality. Despite its historic specificity, the work is simultaneously comprehensible as a current reflection of our own fraught context. Alongside this work at Lisson  are two further installations: Policeman (1981) and Leaf (1981) – that similarly address this unrest as well as our paradoxical relationship with nature. More about Tony Cragg

Lisson Gallery, 508 West 24th Street, New York, NY Info