10 Must-See New York Exhibitions This Summer

What to see this summer.

Billy Al Bengston Kahea (1984). Photo: courtesy Franklin Parrasch Gallery

When the art world enters a temporary lull this summer, a number of New York’s galleries and museums will bare their more experimental side. The result is some of the most eclectic and charming exhibitions of the year. Young artists are introduced to the scene in group shows and unusual left-field works are shown without fear of market reprieve.

Sandwiched in between vacations, we’ve selected some gems from the busy summer schedule to get you in the mood for summer.

1. “Billy Al Bengston: Plenty Aloha” at Franklin Parrasch Gallery (May 20–June 25, 2016)
If this show doesn’t get you in the summer spirit, nothing will. The West Coast artist was a key figure in LA’s legendary Ferus Gallery circle, and pursued his artistic career while racing motorcycles professionally.

Franklin Parrasch Gallery will show Bengston’s paintings and collages from the 1982-2984, which were influenced by the artist’s decision to work in Hawaii, and reflect the island’s tropical luster.

S. J. Moodley,[Two men with floral decoration] (ca. 1978). Photo: courtesy The Walther Collection.

S. J. Moodley,[Two men with floral decoration] (ca. 1978). Photo: courtesy The Walther Collection.

2. “Who I Am: Rediscovered Portraits from Apartheid South Africa” at The Walther Collection Project Space (June 2–September 3, 2016)
Who I Am presents a selection of rediscovered black-and-white studio portraits which capture the challenges of social acceptance, ethnicity and gender roles during South Africa’s apartheid. Photographer Singarum Jeevaruthnam Moodley captured the images between 1972 and 1984 in Pietermaritzburg, the capital of KwaZulu-Natal.

Terence Koh, Bee Chapel.Photo: Courtesy of Andrew Edlin Gallery.

Terence Koh, Bee Chapel.
Photo: Courtesy of Andrew Edlin Gallery.

3. “Terence Koh: Bee Chapel” at Andrew Edlin Gallery (May 21–July 1, 2016)
Making his return to the art world after a self-imposed hiatus, Terrence Koh presents new works at Andrew Edlin Gallery. The show features 15 cubic yards of New Jersey topsoil, an apple tree, and new collages crafted with beeswax.

MR. Whaaaaaaat!? Whyyyyyyy!? (2015). Photo: courtesy Lehman Maupin

MR. Whaaaaaaat!? Whyyyyyyy!? (2015). Photo: © 2015 Mr. / Kaikai Kiki Co., Ltd. All Rights Reserved. Courtesy the artist and Lehmann Maupin, New York and Hong Kong.

4. “Mr.: Sunset in My Heart” at Lehmann Maupin, Chelsea (June 23–August 12, 2016)
The Arte Povera-inspired Japanese artist is back in New York with a new show at the Chelsea gallery, which is featuring new works inspired by manga and anime subculture.

John Akomfrah at Lisson Gallery. Photo: courtesy Lisson Gallery

John Akomfrah at Lisson Gallery. Photo: courtesy Lisson Gallery

5. “John Akomfrah” at Lisson Gallery (June 24–August 12, 2016)
The British artist and filmmaker John Akomfrah’s first major show in the US comes to the Lisson Gallery’s New York space. For his US debut, the artist will present two multi-screen film installations investigating memory, post-colonialism, temporality, and aesthetics through the use of archival film footage and still photography combined with newsreel and new material.

Sol Lewitt Abstract Painting (1965). Photo: courtesy Pace Gallery, New York.

Sol Lewitt Abstract Painting (1965). Photo: courtesy Pace Gallery, New York.

6. “Blackness in Abstraction” at Pace Gallery (June 23–August 18, 2016)
Curated by Adrienne Edwards, the exhibition investigates the use of black as a color. Artworks by 29 artists are included in the show, a third of which are newly created. Highlights include a site-specific wall painting by Wangechi Mutu, new works by Glenn Ligon, Oscar Murillo and Rashid Johnson, alongside pieces by Ad Reinhardt, Robert Rauschenberg, and Sol LeWitt.

Nan Goldin Nan and Brian in Bed, New York City (1983). Photo: courtesy The Museum of Modern Art, New York.

Nan Goldin Nan and Brian in Bed, New York City (1983). Photo: courtesy The Museum of Modern Art, New York.

7. “Nan Goldin: The Ballad of Sexual Dependency” at MoMA (June 11, 2016–February 12, 2017)
Encompassing almost 700 intimate portraits, the overview reflects the photographer’s personal experiences in New York, Boston, Berlin, and beyond in the 1970s and ’80s. “The Ballad of Sexual Dependency is the diary I let people read,” the artist writes.

8. “Amy Feldman, Lucio Fontana, Maximilian Schubert, Alan Wiener” at 11R Gallery (June 8–July 29, 2016)
The gallery contrasts works by the American abstract painters Amy Feldman and Maximilian Schubert with a work by Lucio Fontana and sculptural works by Alan Wiener. The show examines the influence of the Italian master’s art on the practices of the next generation of artists.

A.R. Penck at Michael Werner Gallery, New York. Photo: Michael Werner Gallery, New York.

A.R. Penck at Michael Werner Gallery, New York. Photo: Michael Werner Gallery, New York.

9. “A.R. Penck: Early Works” at Michael Werner Gallery (June 9–September 3, 2016)
This summer, Michael Werner Gallery is showing the first comprehensive exhibition in the United States of A.R. Penck’s rarely seen early works in over two decades.

Featuring important paintings and sculptures created in Dresden in the 1960s and early 1970s, the exhibition presents unique insights into the artist’s distinctive style.

Joanna Pousette-Dart Red Desert 2 (2005-06). Photo: MoMA PS1

Joanna Pousette-Dart Red Desert 2 (2005-06). Photo: MoMA PS1

10. “Shapeshifters” at Luring Augustine (June 27–August 12, 2016)
In late June, Luring Augustine celebrates shaped paintings with a group show featuring 19 artists including Joe Bradley, Jeremy DePerez, Jeff Elrod, Ron Gorchov, Ralph Humphrey, Martin Kippenberger, Imi Knoebel, Robert Mangold, Jeremy Moon, Elizabeth Murray, Kenneth Noland, David Novros, Blinky Palermo, Steven Parrino, Joanna Pousette-Dart, Ruth Root, Frank Stella, Philip Taaffe, and Richard Tuttle.


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