21 Art Exhibitions to View in N.Y.C. This Weekend – The New York Times

Posted By on February 28, 2020

SAHEL: ART AND EMPIRES ON THE SHORES OF THE SAHARA at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (through May 10). Sahel derives from the Arabic word for shore or coast. It was the name once given by traders crossing the oceanic Sahara to the welcoming grasslands that marked the deserts southern rim, terrain that is now Mali, Mauritania, Niger and Senegal. To early travelers, art from the region must have looked like a rich but bewildering hybrid. It still does, which may be one reason it stands, in the West, somewhat outside an accepted African canon. This fabulous exhibition goes for the richness. One look tells you that variety within variety, difference talking to difference, is the story here. New ideas spring up from local soil and arrive from afar. Ethnicities and ideologies collide and embrace. Cultural influences get swapped, dropped and recouped in a multitrack sequencing that is the very definition of history. (Cotter)212-535-7710, metmuseum.org

ZILIA SNCHEZ: SOY ISLA (I AM AN ISLAND) at El Museo del Barrio (through March 22). Snchez, who will turn 94 this summer and is still at work, has spent some 50 years making abstract yet sensual sculptural paintings, approximately 40 of which are gathered here to lead the viewer through her career. While modern art has a firmly established tradition of objects that simultaneously hang on the wall and jut into space, Snchez does something different. Lunar con Tatuaje (Moon With Tattoo), one of her most elaborate pieces, features two semicircular canvases with raised half-moons in the middle. Frenzied groups of lines arc between various points, accompanied by arrows and an occasional eye or hand. The picture isnt legible, but it calls forth a kind of cosmic knowledge. Such is the duality and lesson of Snchezs art: Its grounded in the material world but points toward something metaphysical. (Jillian Steinhauer)212-831-7272, elmuseo.org

TAKING SHAPE: ABSTRACTION FROM THE ARAB WORLD, 1950S-1980S at Grey Art Gallery (through April 4). The graphic simplicity of the Arabic alphabet means that it can be made to look like almost anything, from a rearing horse to a pixelated television screen. Most of the artists in this exhibition had some European or American training, and alongside unusual sandy palettes and a few unexpected details, youll see plenty of approaches that look familiar: lucid colors la Josef Albers, crimson bursts of impasto similar to early Abstract Expressionism. But unlike European artists, they also have an alphabet with an ancient history in visual art and this gives their abstraction a very different effect. (Heinrich)212-998-6780, greyartgallery.nyu.edu

T. REX: THE ULTIMATE PREDATOR at the American Museum of Natural History (through Aug. 9). Everyones 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 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

WORLDS BEYOND EARTH at the American Museum of Natural Historys Hayden Planetarium (ongoing). This new space show is a bit like being thrown out of your own orbit. Surrounded by brilliant colors, the viewer glides through space in all directions, unbound by conventional rules of orientation or vantage point. Dizzying spirals delineate the orbits of Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars. At one point, museumgoers are taken along a journey from the perspective of a comet. In illustrating the far reaches of our solar system, the show draws on data from seven sets of space missions from NASA, Europe and Japan, including the Apollo 15 mission in 1971 and still-active ones like Voyager. With a sense of movement and scale that only a visual presentation could convey, Worlds Beyond Earth makes an unforced point about the dangers of climate change. Another celestial body might have an alien sea that contains more liquid water than all the oceans on Earth, as its narrator, Lupita Nyongo, states. But Earth itself, she adds later, is the only place with the right size, the right location and the right ingredients an easy balance to upset. (Kenigsberg)212-769-5100, amnh.org

MAKING MARVELS: SCIENCE & SPLENDOR AT THE COURTS OF EUROPE at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (through March 1). This exhibition brings together nearly 170 elaborately crafted objects, many never seen in the United States: the mesmerizing 41-carat Dresden Green, an ornate silver table decorated with sea nymphs, a clock with Copernicus depicted in gilded brass. Some, like a chariot carrying the wine god Bacchus, are spectacularly inventive Bacchus can raise a toast, roll his eyes and even stick out his tongue. Some, like a charming rhinoceros, a collage created from tortoiseshell, pearls and shells, are merely lovely. The show could have been simply a display of ornamental wealth for the one percent of long ago, an abundance of gold and silver that was meant to be shown off in any way possible. But Making Marvels is about more than that. (James Barron)212-535-7710, metmuseum.org

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21 Art Exhibitions to View in N.Y.C. This Weekend - The New York Times

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