8 Art Shows to See in New York This March


8 Art Shows to See in New York This March

Spring is finally peeking through the cold and clouds and New York galleries and museums are in full bloom with great shows. This month we’re highlighting some artists’ artists — from celebrated figures in art history like Paul Cadmus to New York stalwarts like our occasional contributor Stephen Maine, along with under-appreciated talents such as Dana Frankfort and the brilliant Kay WalkingStick. Colorful textile works by Queens artist Woomin Kim delight in everyday objects, and reflect the vivid hues of New York’s most multicultural borough. For those feeling childhood nostalgia along with those first warm days, make sure to see the Morgan Library’s wonderful display of art and ephemera by Beatrix Potter and imagine running through the grass with Peter Rabbit. Wherever you end up, you’ll surely encounter some art that brightens your day. —Natalie Haddad, Reviews Editor

Paul Cadmus, “Male Nude NM132” (1974), crayon on hand toned paper, 16 3/4 x 21 3/4 inches (photo by Chie Fueki)

Paul Cadmus: The Male Nude

Paul Cadmus’s exhibition of paintings and drawings is a treasure trove, starting with the taboo-breaking 1933 painting “Y.M.C.A. Locker Room,” which has not been on view for many years. Capable of sharp satire and close observation, the precocious and uncompromising artist seems always to be at his best. Near the beginning of World War II, when many artists were turning toward abstraction, Cadmus, who loved the Old Masters, began painting with egg tempera. His appreciation for Renaissance art and classical techniques is visible in all of his work. What makes it more than a love letter to the past is his ambition. Focusing on his drawings of the male nude, this large exhibition (also featuring paintings, prints, and a film interview) is his first in over 20 years. The world has evolved a lot in terms of inclusivity since Cadmus initially showed his homoerotic paintings and drawings. He helped make these positive changes happen. —John Yau

DC Moore Gallery (dcmooregallery.com)
535 West 22nd Street, Chelsea, Manhattan
Through March 16

Dana Frankfort, “You and I are Earth II” (2024), oil on canvas on panel, 18 x 24 x 1 inches (courtesy Olympia Gallery and the artist)

Dana Frankfort: Life and Death

This is Dana Frankfort’s debut exhibition at Olympia, a small, Lower East Side gallery with an ambitious program “dedicated to dismantling the cis-male-centric art canon.” The title of Frankfort’s exhibition, Life and Death, was inspired by Malcolm Morley, who said in an interview: “Each brushstroke is a matter of life and death. It’s a matter of identity, which I’m evolving as I go along. Through each painting, there’s a riddle. I discover the riddle through doing the painting.” In her paintings, Frankfort brings together words and paint until they become dance partners, each enhancing and inhabiting the other. When she writes “You and I are Earth,” as she does in a number of paintings, we sense both the artist’s joy and melancholy, the public declaration and intimate exchange. In a large painting where the words peek through a veil of orange and pink, the colors and layers stir up a wide range of associations. Every engagement with Frankfort’s paintings opens up a new vista of possibility. —JY

Olympia (olympiaart.org)
41 Orchard Street, Lower East Side, Manhattan
Through March 23

Works by Kay WalkingStick and Asher B. Durand on display in Kay WalkingStick / Hudson River School at the New-York Historical Society (photo Hrag Vartanian/Hyperallergic)

Kay WalkingStick / Hudson River School

This is the type of artistic intervention that should be happening more at art institutions. The art of the renowned Kay WalkingStick — whose 2016 retrospective at the National Museum of the American Indian was a stunning display (I selected it to be one of the best of 2016) — is in conversation with the Hudson River School, which is known as the first truly American school of European-inspired painting.

Juxtaposed with canvases by Asher B. Durand, Albert Bierstadt, and others, WalkingStick pulls back the curtain to reveal another way of experiencing the world that isn’t as “objective” and colonial in its gaze as those 19th-century artists still shilling the delusion of “manifest destiny.” The artist has integrated historical scenes, the geometric languages of Native American pottery, and other mark making that demonstrates how she often “sees” beyond the confines of historical Western perspective. Her diptych canvases are beautiful examples of how landscapes can be as visceral as they are visual.

Do not miss this sleeper of a show, which might inspire you to rethink 19th-century American landscape painting all together — and in an institution with one of the world’s best collections of that movement. —Hrag Vartanian

New-York Historical Society (nyhistory.org)
170 Central Park West, Upper West Side, Manhattan
Through April 14

Beatrix Potter, “A Dream of Toasted Cheese” (1899), watercolor and ink on paper (photo Lakshmi Rivera Amin/Hyperallergic)

Beatrix Potter: Drawn to Nature

This is a charmer of an exhibition that features incredible archival material connected with Edwardian-era author Beatrix Potter’s renowned Peter Rabbit children’s book series. Among those items on display is the original 1893 letter to Noel Moore in which Potter first told the story of her pet rabbit Peter Piper. Eight years later, she turned the epistolary tale into a series of beloved books. The love and care Potter put into her correspondence are a treat to see, but the real surprises are some of the delicate watercolors that demonstrate her appreciation for observation and nature, all revealing a wonderful sense of play — her images of the little mouse Appley Dapply and her “old snail with a nest” are two standouts. It’s easy to feel the innocence of childhood in these carefully arranged archival galleries. —HV

Morgan Library (themorgan.org)
225 Madison Avenue, Murray Hill, Manhattan
Through June 9

Installation view of Woomin Kim, The Warehouse (photo Hakim Bishara/Hyperallergic)

Woomin Kim: The Warehouse

If you’re looking for a different kind of art experience, I recommend you visit Materials for the Arts in Queens, a city-run reuse center that provides free art supplies to school teachers, students, and nonprofits. There, tucked in a corridor next to a 35,000-square-foot warehouse packed with everything from paints and brushes to fabrics and books, you’ll find a small exhibition by resident artist Woomin Kim, who is also based in Queens. Using discarded materials from the expansive warehouse, Kim quilts brightly colored textile still-lifes of quotidian objects like shoes, gloves, phones, and hats. (Some of the actual objects depicted in the works are displayed in transparent cases on the floor.) With this harmonious and uplifting miscellany, the works reflect and celebrate the multiculturalism and diversity of the borough, whose residents are said to speak 800 different languages. —Hakim Bishara

Materials for the Arts (materialsforthearts.org)
33-00 Northern Boulevard, Long Island City, Queens
Through April 12

Alina Tense, “Water Carrier, Walking in Circles with Sharp Edges” (2023) (photo Hakim Bishara/Hyperallergic)

Alina Tenser: Circles with Sharp Corners

You can go through life giving your utmost, playing by the rules and sacrificing a whole lot for others, but still end up on the losing end. What might be the remedy for that? Hardening your heart, growing selfish, or rather wearing your scars proudly for the next battle? Those thoughts and questions came to me as I stood in front of Alina Tenser’s steel sculptures, prefaced by a video work tellingly titled “Walking in Circles With Sharp Corners” (2023). Tenser has an uncommon ability to imbue cold, hard metal surfaces with complex human emotion. It’s all in there: pain and play, love and loss, death and rebirth. All together, the works emote a strong need to let go and move on, knowing that some things will always stay bent out of shape. —HB

Hesse Flatow (hesseflatow.com)
508 West 26th Street, Suite 5G, Chelsea, Manhattan
Through March 30

Stephen Maine, “Falling Rocket 53” (2023) (photo Hakim Bishara/Hyperallergic)

Stephen Maine: Falling Rocket

Stephen Maine is someone you’d call a “painters’ painter,” who has spent a lifetime contemplating the possibilities of the medium. He’s known for his “residue” paintings, intensely saturated compositions made with a process involving pressing printing plates onto canvas. Here, he lets loose, producing smaller-scale, breezy, and chance-driven pieces freckled with occasional paint drips. The works exude a sense of newfound freedom, and serve as a good reminder to keep it light, keep it moving. —HB

Satchel Projects (satchelprojects.com)
526 West 26th Street #913, Chelsea, Manhattan
Through March 30

Foreground: Huma Bhabha, “Even Stones Have Eyes” (2023) (photo Hakim Bishara/Hyperallergic)

Huma Bhabha: Welcome … to the one who came

Standing before Huma Bhabha’s 12-foot sculpture “Even Stones Have Eyes” (2023) at David Zwirner, I was impressed and awed by the monumental figure, but I also felt it didn’t belong in a fluorescent-lit gallery space. That’s how convincing Bhabha’s sculptures are as ancestral totems carved into stone or wood, while in fact they’re made out of patinated bronze or cast iron. I still would like to see them in nature, continuing a history that might have never been told. —HB

David Zwirner (davidzwirner.com)
237 West 20th Street, Chelsea, Manhattan
Through April 13


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