Museum-going counterparts of armchair travelers can cross the world and millennia in this season’s exhibitions. Here are some picks that offer new visions of time and place through historical artifacts, documents, and the ever-inspiring eyes of artists.
Kimono Style: The John C. Weber Collection, through February 20, 2023, Metropolitan Museum of Art
Views of the Met’s collection of exquisite kimonos rarely go as in-depth as in this exhibition. Dozens of sumptuous or simple, but always striking, garments from the 18th to the 20th centuries are on display. What makes this show even more exciting is a cross-cultural view of how Japanese styles influenced or were influenced by prominent European and American designers. The kimonos are elegant and superbly wrought, as are garments by Cristobal Balenciaga, Paul Poiret and John Galliano. The relationships and links are revealing and, at times, such as in a child’s winter jacket printed with images of Mickey Mouse, utterly charming.
She Who Wrote: Enheduanna and Women of Mesopotamia, ca. 3400-2000 B.C., October 14 - February 19, 2023, The Morgan Library & Museum
Head back 5000 years and discover the woman who was the world’s first known, named author – male or female – in “She Who Wrote: Enheduanna and Women of Mesopotamia.” It’s a first of its kind exploration of the life and work of the poet, priestess and power player, Enheduanna, who proudly introduced her work with her own name. With texts of her writing alongside artifacts and representations of both Enheduanna and other contemporaneous women of Mesopotamia, the exhibition offers an understanding of women’s social, religious, economic and political roles in ancient Sumerian society.
Just Above Midtown: Changing Spaces, October 9 – February 18, Museum of Modern Art
Not quite that far back in time, in the 1970s Black New York artists launched an experimental art space at 50 West 57th Street that opened doors for artists and opened the eyes of the public. Just Above Midtown, also known as JAM, presented exhibitions and also functioned as an incubator for new ideas in Conceptual, Performance and Video Art as well as painting, sculpture and photography for twelve years, from 1974 to 1986. Through archival materials, photographs, and works of art, the exhibition gives a sense of how this cutting-edge space challenged notions of what art could be and do. JAM founder Linda Goode Bryant sought a way to “present African-American artists on the same platform with other established artists.” Many, like David Hammons, Lorraine O’Grady, Howardena Pindell and Suzanne Jackson went on to garner acclaim and success. For others, it was a place of free thinking and discovery whose relevance continues to this day.
At the Dawn of a New Age: Early Twentieth-Century American Modernism, through March, 2023
Edward Hopper’s New York, October 19 - March 5, 2023, Whitney Museum of American Art
For a focused glimpse of the early 20th century, head to the Whitney, where two exhibitions look at the beginnings of Modernism in America. In “At the Dawn of a New Age,” curator Barbara Haskell brings together works by 45 artists to consider how a maelstrom of change that included machines and technology, women’s suffrage, wars, droughts, and shifting political and economic realities all found expression in paintings, sculptures and photography. Haskell presents male and female artists with equal prominence, as well as émigré artists from Asia and Europe, to give a full picture of an unprecedented moment in art.
Edward Hopper’s hauntingly empty spaces belie the bustling city that was his home for most of his life. Born in nearby Nyack, Hopper attended art schools in the city, and from 1913 until his death in 1967, lived with his artist wife, Jo Hopper at 3 Washington Square North in Greenwich Village. Organized by Kim Conaty with Melinda Lang, this is the first exhibition to look at the Manhattan roots of Hopper’s vision. With iconic paintings as well as rarely seen works on paper, a city both familiar and intimate, as well as mysterious and malleable, emerges.
Eva Hesse: Expanded Expansion, Through October 16, Guggenheim Museum
Discover the reason a mention of Eva Hesse causes many artists’ breath to catch. She was a pioneer, an innovator and a rule breaker. With dangling appendages coming out of canvases, Hesse changed what pictures could be. With amorphous shapes and moveable parts, she rewrote the rules of sculpture. The Guggenheim presents a single sculpture exhibition of a work whose fragility means it’s rarely on view and adds lots of background offering ways to consider, approach and appreciate it.
Wendy Red Star: Travels Pretty, Through Nov 20, Public Art Fund via JCDecaux bus shelters
While you’re running from museum to museum, try to pass by one of the JCDecaux bus shelters where the Public Art Fund is debuting images of twelve paintings by Apsáalooke (Crow) artist, Wendy Red Star. The bright, geometric patterns draw on traditional arts of Native American women. By studying and then referencing designs of parfleches, a kind of painted travel bag, and further, by naming each of her paintings for a woman recorded in the 1885 Crow census, Red Star draws attention to women artists, to the past, and to a tradition of carrying beauty wherever the journey leads.