Shows! Shows! Shows! 34 New York Must-See Gallery Exhibitions to See This May
Anchored by Frieze Week, May is one of the busiest months for gallery shows in New York.
The editors at artnet News searched New York City high and low for the most exciting, bizarre, and thought-provoking gallery exhibitions this May.
Matthew Brannon continues his tireless quest to mine the depths of the Vietnam War and its lasting effects on society, politics, and the culture at large. Brannon’s painstaking research yields prints that combine ephemera sourced from archives with familiar icons of American politics and propaganda posters.
May 1–June 16; opening reception: 6 p.m.–8 p.m.; 121 West 27th Street
2. “An Eccentric View” at Mignoni Art
The exhibition brings together nine women—Tauba Auerbach, Jo Baer, Marsha Cottrell, Tara Donovan, Eva Hesse, Kathleen Jacobs, Yayoi Kusama, Agnes Martin, and Mira Schendel. Included are works from the beginning of the mid-1960s through to the present day.
May 1–June 19; 960 Madison Avenue
3. “Oliver Clegg: Euclid’s Porsche” at Rental Gallery
For his first solo show in New York, Oliver Clegg has mined the depths of eBay listings, making photorealistic oil paintings of images of McDonald’s Happy Meal toys. Imbued with nostalgia, the 150 works elevate cheap childhood playthings to the realm of fine art, blending the highbrow and the low with unabashed sentimentality.
May 1–25; opening reception, 6 p.m.–8 p.m.; 524 West 19th Street
4. “Camille Henrot: Born, Never Asked” at Metro Pictures
On view are more than 50 works by the French artist Camille Henrot, exploring the malleability of figures. Her graceful watercolors and calm color palette belie work that is often graphic, the humans are sometimes drawn with animal heads or contorted into inhuman positions. Her work draws on the philosophies of power—how systems confine and constrict literal bodies; she references art forms like Manga cartoons where the characters traverse the seemingly fine lines of human and animal, male and female, domination and subjugation.
May 1–25; Upstairs Gallery at 519 West 24th Street
5. “Wanda Koop: Standing Withstanding” at Arsenal Contemporary
Canadian painter Wanda Koop gets her first major New York solo exhibition, showcasing her unique take on landscape painting, informed by globalization and the technological age, as well as the tradition of communal bonfires maintained by the indigenous people of her native Winnipeg.
May 1–June 17; opening reception, 6 p.m.-8 p.m.; 214 Bowery
6. “John Latham: Skoob Works” at Lisson Gallery
In 1958, John Latham began attaching books to his canvases, creating “skoob” works—”books” in reverse—with sawed, sliced, or burned volumes. “It was not in any degree a gesture of contempt for books or literature. What it did was intend to put the proposition into mind that perhaps the cultural base had been burnt out,” he said in a statement.
May 1–June 16; opening reception, 6 p.m.–8 p.m.; 504 West 24th Street
Works by the Cameroonian artist Pascale Marthine Tayou at Richard Taittinger span 2006 through the present. His sculptures, photographs, videos, and drawings represent his self-perception as a voyager and lend insight into various ways of life around the world.
May 2–August 22; opening reception, 6 p.m.-9 p.m.; 154 Ludlow Street
Terry Winters presents a dozen new paintings completed last year, each nearly seven feet tall with thick layers of resin, wax, and oil. “I use this found imagery as a model, to see how images can be torqued or tweaked, made more poetic and expressive,” the artist said of the series in a statement.
May 2–June 16; opening reception, 6 p.m.–8 p.m.; 523 West 24th Street
In 1981, Norman Rosenthal, Nicholas Serota, and Christos Joachimides curated a major exhibition of 20th-century painting, at the Royal Academy of Arts in London, looking beyond the major movements of Abstract Expressionism, Pop, and Minimalism. Going on 40 years later, Rosenthal revisits the seminal show, which helped change the conversation around what had been considered a dying medium, at Almine Reche’s London and New York locations, with work from the likes of Maria Lassnig, Pablo Picasso, Julian Schnabel, and Per Kirkeby.
May 2–June 9; opening reception, 6 p.m.–8 p.m.; 39 East 78th Street
Charles Ray takes over Matthew Marks’s two 22nd Street galleries with a show of five new sculptures, including the fleshy nude Reclining Woman, carved by machine from a solid block of stainless steel.
May 2–June 16; opening reception, 6 p.m.–8 p.m.; 522 and 526 West 22nd Street
The artist’s monumental installation sculptures will take over the gallery space on May 3. Von Rydingsvard’s sculptures defy what seems possible—take her contorted tree trunks that simultaneously drip down the wall. The artist is also the subject of two concurrent Philadelphia museum shows; “The Contour of Feeling” at the Fabric Workshop and Museum and “Now, She” at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
May 3–June 23, opening reception, 6 p.m.–8 p.m.; 528 West 26th Street
As a child in South Korea, Chun Kwang Young grew up seeing medicinal herb packets wrapped in mulberry paper and hung from the ceiling of doctors’ offices. As he began shifting away from painting to paper sculpture, he drew on those memories for inspiration, creating assemblages of triangular forms wrapped in this uniquely Korean material, dying the antique paper with tea or colored pigments.
May 3–June 16, opening reception, 6 p.m.-8 p.m.; 547 West 27th Street
A key figure in the British Pop movement, Allen Jones is known for his erotic, controversial fiberglass sculptures of women functioning as pieces of furniture. His new show of recent work includes a new series of life-size works in this material, moveable sculptures of naked women, which are posed against abstract canvases.
May 3–June 16; opening reception, 6 p.m.-8 p.m.; 545 West 25th Street
14. “Michal Rovner: Evolution” at Pace Gallery
Israeli-born artist Michal Rovner is bringing her pack of spectral coyotes back to Pace’s Chelsea location, coming right on the heels of her solo showing in Palo Alto, California. The show will revisit Rovner’s photography along with a new video piece, debuting at Pace.
May 3–June 23; opening reception, 6 p.m.–8 p.m.; 537 West 24th Street
15. “Lily Stockman: Loquats” at Charles Moffett Gallery
For its inaugural exhibition, Charles Moffett Gallery presents a series of colorful abstract paintings by Los Angeles artist Lily Stockman.
May 4–June 30; opening reception, 6 p.m.–8 p.m.; 265 Canal Street
Ha Chong-Hyun, a leading member of Korea’s Dansaekhwa (monochrome) movement, presents the latest works in his ongoing “Conjunction” series, begun in 1974. The artist applies paint to the back of his canvases, then presses onto the still-wet design to force it through the fabric, a process he has dubbed bae-ap-bub in Korean, or “back pressure method.”
May 4–June 16; opening reception, 6 p.m.–8 p.m.; 525 West 21st Street
Returning to his well-trod spot motif, but with a less mechanical, more hand-painted approach, Damien Hirst shows his “Colour Space Paintings,” which debuted earlier this year at England’s Houghton Hall, stateside for the first time. “you have the fallibility of the human hand in the drips and inconsistencies,” said the artist in a statement. “There are still no two exact colors that repeat in each painting, which is really important to me. I think of them as cells under a microscope.”
May 4–June 30; opening reception May 11, 6 p.m.–8 p.m.; 555 West 24th Street
18. “Darren Goins: Operands” at Johannes Vogt Gallery
For his first solo show at the gallery, Darren Goins is showing a series of abstract, colorful paintings resulting from an advanced manipulation of a computer numerical control (CNC) router. An operand is the numerical data set to be computed or manipulated by a computer, while the operator carries out the function. In this case, Goins sees himself more as a collaborative operand, with the machine itself the only truly autonomous operator.
May 4–26; opening reception, 6 p.m.-8 p.m.; 55 Chrystie Street, Suite 202
Continuing his practice of combining visual elements from two distinct artists, John Baldessari offers a mashup of Piet Mondrian and Francis Picabia in his new body of work “All Z’s (Picabia/Mondrian),” juxtaposing often obscure words beginning with the letter “Z” with layered composition of their work. “Collision is a working principle of mine,” said Baldessari in a statement. “When you collide two things, you see what makes them special or different.”
May 4–June 22; opening reception, 6 p.m.–8 p.m.; 24 West 57th Street
20. “Tommy Hartung: R.U.R.” at C24 Gallery
If you missed Tommy Hartung’s debut at C24’s Volta booth, here is a second chance to catch his sinister, pixelated interpretation of the classic 1921 play by Karel Čapek, based on a world overrun by robots who have usurped power from their creators. Using interactive videos, photographs, and sculptures, Hartung brings the text to life for a contemporary audience who will undoubtedly draw parallels to everything from Westworld to the recent data-collection hearings around Facebook and Cambridge Analytica.
May 4–June 23; opening reception, 6 p.m.–8 p.m.; 260 West 24th Street
21. “Ulay: Renais sense” at Boers-Li Gallery
Photos, videos, and other artworks by the performance and conceptual artist Ulay, tracing the path of his career and brought together for the first time. The show includes examples of his innovative use of Polaroid prints to investigate identity in the early 1970s, through his years of collaboration with Marina Abramovic, plus a selection of new contemporary works.
Friday, May 4–June 23; opening reception, 5 p.m.–8 p.m.; 24 East 81st Street
22. “Liu Wei: 180 Faces” at Sean Kelly Gallery
For the first time in almost 20 years, Chinese painter Liu Wei’s work will return to America for the solo show at Sean Kelly. The show is comprised of 180 individual paintings, each done in a distinct style ranging from traditional calligraphy to Expressionism.
May 4–June 16; opening reception, 6 p.m.–8 p.m.; 475 10th Avenue
Eugenio Dittborn began creating his “Airmail Paintings,” each of which is folded up and mailed internationally before going on view, in 1984.
May 5–June 23; 47 Walker Street
24. “Mathew Cerletty: Shelf Life” at Karma
For his first solo show at Karma, Mathew Cerletty presents nine surprisingly thought-provoking paintings of generic objects, each with a Surrealist tinge.
May 5–June 17; opening reception, 6 p.m.–8 p.m.; 188 East 2nd Street
25. “Amir H. Fallah: How Far We’ve Come” at Denny Gallery
For his first solo show at the Denny Gallery, artist Amir Fallah’s body of work illustrates the immigrants in his Los Angeles community, painted in settings and poses that evoke European depictions of Orientalism, yet with the trappings of American culture. On the gallery walls, Fallah, who was born in Tehran, will paint the lyrics of Neil Diamond’s “Coming to America” in Farsi, underscoring the dissonance between immigrant idealism and reality.
May 11–June 17; opening reception, 6 p.m.–8 p.m.; 261 Broome Street
26. “Before and Be After: Growing Up Design With Lucas Maassen & Sons” at kinder MODERN
Lucas Maassen enlists his three children Thijme, Julian, and Maris, now teenagers, to paint his furniture designs in their family factory. Their newest work is inspired by Maris’s successful recovery from open heart surgery last fall, and builds off the idea of “holes and filling/patching holes,” according to the gallery.
May 11–May 25; opening reception, 6 p.m.–8 p.m.; 1133 Broadway, Suite 1610
27. “Natalie Frank: O” at Half Gallery
Natalie Frank had some difficulty in exhibiting her latest works, based on the sexually transgressive book, Story of O—Sara Kay canceled a show planned for Armory Week over concerns that viewers might find the explicit images triggering.
May 16–June 16; opening reception, 6 p.m.–8 p.m.; 43 East 78th Street
Tim Braden’s dreamy, nostalgic landscapes are inspired as much by vintage travelogues and friends’ snapshots as his own journeys around the world.
May 17–June 29; opening reception, 6 p.m.–8 p.m.; 515 West 26th Street
29. “Alan Shields: Rolling Orbit Prints from the 1970’s” at Van Doren Waxter
An exhibition of 18 innovative and dynamic prints by Alan Shields will be on view at Van Doren Waxter’s Upper East Side townhouse. Shields’s technique of printmaking was unconventional. Instead of considering the paper as simply the medium for his artwork, he considered it to be an integral aspect of the print itself. His prints are also unique art objects as opposed to static one-dimensional works; he often layered cut or torn grids of paper, using color and texture to enhance the work.
May 17–July 27; 23 East 73rd Street
Chilean artist Cecilia Vicuña gets her first comprehensive survey in the city she has called home for the last three decades, featuring painting as well as her “Lo Precario” mixed-media sculptures and “Quipu” raw wool installations.
May 19–July 6; opening reception, 6 p.m.–8 p.m.; 536 West 22nd Street
31. “Travelogue” at Jack Shainman’s The School
For the season opening at Jack Shainman’s The School, a series of solo exhibitions by artists from the gallery’s stable will be presented in conjunction with Radcliffe Bailey’s “Travelogue.” Bailey creates assemblages from found objects that allude to broad themes of collective memory, history, and migration. He considers music to be the common thread in his work, directing the ultimate composition.
May 20–October 6; opening reception, 2 p.m.–6 p.m.; 25 Broad Street, Kinderhook
Between 1997 and 2002, Justine Kurland traveled across the United States photographing girls living vastly different lives, but all in the tenuous places between childhood and adulthood. Kurland printed all 69 pictures taken over the four-year period for the first time this year, two decades after the project began. This is the first time they appear as a complete series.
May 24–June 29; 534 West 26th Street
33. “Jeff Perrone: Let 10,000 Tires Burn” at Marinaro
This show covers the past 10 years of the artist’s work, which he considers a form “of direct action opposing the regime of the more effective evil”—in this case, it seems, materialism, capitalism, and most other structures of power. The artworks themselves are made of buttons, arranged to form words or phrases, and so are given a new purpose once their purpose as a fastener is completed.
May 24–June 24; opening reception 6 p.m.–8 p.m.;1 Oliver Street
This is a new series of work that emerged from Upritchard’s time at the Lux Art Institute over the winter. The ceramic vessels take on humanoid traits, with protruding handles becoming ears, and naturally occurring ridges and waves forming other figurative qualities. As a counterpoint to the sculptural works, a series of watercolors will also be on display, with similarly mysterious markings and shapes that echo those on the clay pots.
May 24–June 30; 16 East 55th Street
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