in Frieze New York | 17 MAR 24

Great New York Museum Shows during Frieze Week: Whitney Biennial, Joan Jonas, Peter Hujar

Unmissable shows in New York this May include “The Harlem Renaissance and Transatlantic Modernism,” The Whitney Biennial, and surveys of Marian Zazeela, Terry Fox and Joan Jonas

in Frieze New York | 17 MAR 24

Whitney Biennial: “Even Better Than the Real Thing”

The 2024 Whitney Biennial grapples with how artificial intelligence is shifting our grip on reality and explores how politically perpetuated gender rhetoric delimits autonomy. Featuring 71 artists and collectives, and curated by Chrissie Iles and Meg Onli, highlights include Isaac Julien’s multi-screen Once Again … (Statues Never Die) (2022), Mary Lovelace O’Neal’s latest body of paintings “Doctor Alcocer’s Corcets for Horses” (2023) and Ligia Lewis’s A Plot, A Scandal (2023). There are also extensive performance and film programs.

Whitney Museum, until August 11

At Frieze New York: Ser Serpas is showing “large-format oil paintings of incognito nude figurations alongside three-dimensional compositions” with LC Quessier (stand C05); Charisse Pearlina Weston is showing in the Focus section with Patron (stand F11). 

“The Harlem Renaissance and Transatlantic Modernism”

William Henry Johnson (American, 1901–1970) Moon over Harlem ca. 1943-1944 Oil on plywood Framed: 35 7/8 in. × 43 1/8 in. × 2 1/2 in. (91.1 × 109.5 × 6.4 cm) Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington D.C.; Gift of the Harmon Foundation Image © Art Resource, NY
William Henry Johnson, Moon Over Harlem, ca. 1943-1944. Oil on plywood, 91.1 × 109.5 × 6.4 cm. Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington D.C. Image © Art Resource, NY

A landmark show, this is the first art museum survey of the Harlem Renaissance in New York City since 1987, establishing its development of the Black subject as central to international modern art. “The Harlem Renaissance and Transatlantic Modernism” explores how Black artists portrayed everyday life in the early decades of the Great Migration, when millions of African-Americans moved away from the segregated South to the new Black cities of the US, including Harlem. Among 160 works, it features Charles Alston, Aaron Douglas, Meta Warrick Fuller, William H. Johnson, Archibald Motley, Winold Reiss, Augusta Savage, James Van Der Zee and Laura Wheeler Waring, alongside works portraying the international African diaspora by the likes of Germaine Casse, Jacob Epstein, Henri Matisse, Ronald Moody, Edvard Munch and Pablo Picasso.

Metropolitan Museum of Art, until July 28

“Giants: Art from the Dean Collection of Swizz Beatz and Alicia Keys”

Amy Sherald (born Columbus, Georgia, 1973). Deliverance , 2022. Oil on linen, each 108 1/4 × 124 1/4 in. (274.8 × 315.5 cm). The Dean Collection, courtesy of Swizz Beatz and Alicia Keys. © Amy Sherald. Courtesy of Amy Sherald and Hauser & Wirth. (Photo: Joseph Hyde)
Amy Sherald, Deliverance, 2022. Oil on linen, each 274.8 × 315.5 cm. The Dean Collection, courtesy of Swizz Beatz and Alicia Keys. © Amy Sherald. Courtesy of Amy Sherald and Hauser & Wirth. Photo: Joseph Hyde

The first major exhibition of work from the collection of the Deans—aka music power-couple Swizz Beats and Alicia Keys—“Giants” is just a selection of their world-class holdings. The show spotlights works by Black diasporic artists, including Derrick Adams, Arthur Jafa, Meleko Mokgosi, Odile Donald Odita, Toyin Ojih Odutola, Gordon Parks, Deborah Roberts, Tschabalala Self, Amy Sherald and Kehinde Wiley. It also explores the relationships between the Deans and the artists they support, encouraging “giant conversations” inspired by the works on view—critiquing society and celebrating Blackness.

Brooklyn Museum, until July 7

Joan Jonas, “Good Night Good Morning”

Joan Jonas. Mirror Piece I. 1969. Performance, Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, NY. Digital print (printed 2024), 9 3/4 × 15″ (24.8 × 38.1 cm). Courtesy the artist. © Joan Jonas/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Joan Jonas. Mirror Piece I. 1969. Performance, Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, NY. Digital print (printed 2024), 24.8 × 38.1 cm. Courtesy the artist. © Joan Jonas/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

This MoMA show is the most comprehensive retrospective of Joan Jonas’s work to date, covering more than five decades of performance, video, drawing, sculpture, and installation. Jonas began her career in New York’s 1960s Downtown art scene, where she was a pioneer in her use of performance and video, drawing from diverse sources including Noh and Kabuki theater, literature and art history. “Joan Jonas: Good Night Good Morning” includes drawings, photographs, notebooks, oral histories, film screenings, performances and installations.

Museum of Modern Art, Until July 6.

Read more: frieze’s 2021 Q&A with Jonas

“Peter Hujar: Rialto”

Peter Hujar, Drag Ball, Hotel Diplomat (I), 1968, Courtesy The Ukrainian Museum, New York, 2 May - 1 September 2024, © The Peter Hujar Archive - Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY
Peter Hujar, Drag Ball, Hotel Diplomat (I), 1968. Courtesy The Ukrainian Museum, New York. © The Peter Hujar Archive / Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY

Born in the US to an immigrant family, Peter Hujar spoke only Ukrainian for the first five years of his life. That outsider position and his abusive childhood were reflected again and again in his photography. Hujar’s technical mastery was paired with an endlessly questing exploration of an unseen New York of gay cruising, flamboyant performance, danger and vulnerability. This exhibition features 74 of Hujar’s earliest photographs from 1955 to 1969, including three significant series of works: “Southbury” (1957), focusing on the Southbury Training School for mentally challenged students; “Florence” (1958), which features neurologically impaired children; and “Capuchin Catacombs of Palermo” (1963), with their centuries-old exposed corpses. These earliest photographs are a fascinating prequel to Hujar’s work as one of New York’s seminal photographers.

Ukrainian Museum, May 2–September 1

Read More: What It Was Like When Peter Hujar Took Your Photograph

Pacita Abad / Melissa Cody “Webbed Skies”

Melissa Cody. Woven in the Stones. 2018. Wool warp, weft, selvedge cords, and aniline dyes. 39 1/4 x 23 5/8 in. (99.7 x 60 cm). Courtesy the artist
Melissa Cody, Woven in the Stones, 2018. Wool warp, weft, selvedge cords and aniline dyes, 99.7 × 60 cm. Courtesy the artist 

Pacita Abad is known for stuffing and stitching her canvas to make quilted paintings. Her first retrospective, at MoMA PS1, delves further into her 32-year career, revealing her socio-political drive across textile, costume, ceramics and works on paper. Also at MoMA PS1 is Melissa Cody’s first major solo museum show, “Webbed Skies,” which features major new works produced for the occasion. Cody blends traditional Navajo techniques with digital technology, continuing the reinvention that spurred the Navajo weaving movement: during their forced expulsion from their lands in the mid-19th century, the Navajo people were supplied with blankets by the US government, which they unraveled to use in their own textile works.

MoMA PS1, April 4–September 2

At Frieze New York: Pacita Abad is showing with Tina Kim Gallery (stand A09). 

“An Atlas of Es Devlin”

This is the first monographic museum exhibition dedicated to British artist and stage designer Es Devlin. Devlin began working in small theaters in the 1990s and has gone on to produce work for the National Theatre, the Metropolitan Opera, World Expo, the Lincoln Center, the United Nations, the Olympics, the NFL, The Weeknd and U2, among others. For this exhibition, Devlin and the curators dug through her 30-year archive, unearthing unseen sketches, paintings and small cardboard models that have been the seeds of often monumental projects.

Cooper-Hewitt, until August 11

Beatriz Cortez & Candice Lin

Beatriz Cortez and Candice Lin’s two-person exhibition at Performance Space explores histories and experiences of diaspora and migration through sculpture. Cortez creates portals that connect across time and space. Visitors can interact with her work, which evokes a yearning for a distant land, across cultural, commercial and human exchanges. Lin’s multi-part installation addresses the history of Asian indentured laborers, the circulation of goods produced by these people, and the relationships between race and linguistics.

Performance Space, April 25–June 9

Watch: Candice Lin’s castration-based kite work at Frieze London 2023

Harmony Holiday “Black Backstage”

“Black Backstage” builds on Holiday’s book Maafa (2022), which deals with the archetypes and sounds that form amid ruin and displacement. Installed immersively, the exhibition transforms The Kitchen into a place that suggests the practical, immaterial aesthetic of makeshift storefront churches, revival meetings, faith healings and other underground spaces of Black ritual and performance. The exhibition comprises film, writing, a sound installation, live performances and public conversations.

The Kitchen, March 21–May 25

Read more: Harmony Holiday on finding quietness in a loud world

“Terry Fox: All These Different Things Are Sculpture” / “Dream Lines”: Marian Zazeela

“Terry Fox: All These Different Things Are Sculpture” is the late conceptual artist’s first institutional show in New York since 1980, and comprises video and sound works and performance documentation. Fox created extreme physical and psychological performances that used his own body alongside an arsenal of materials that included everything from flour and dead fish to his own breath and the sound of purring cats. Among his works was Yield (1973), a set of ritualized trancelike actions that took place over three days with Fox creating skeletal outlines on the floor, blowing smoke and baking bread.

Artists Space is simultaneously showing another pillar of the New York avant-garde with Dream Lines, an exhibition of the visionary drawings of Marian Zazeela. The exhibition traces the evolution of the graphic work that was foundational to Zazeela’s light works and important for her collaborations with the likes of Jack Smith and LaMonte Young. Dream Lines covers Zazeela’s earliest calligraphic experiments to glyph-based modular permutations to fields of dense collinear dots evoking electromagnetic forces and other natural phenomena.

Artists Space, both shows run until May 11.


Main image: Archibald J. Motley Jr., Black Belt, 1934. Oil on canvas, 83.8 × 103.2 × 4.4 cm. © Estate of Archibald John Motley Jr. All reserved rights 2023 / Bridgeman Images. Image courtesy Hampton University