Thomas Hirschhorn wants to de-pixelate the world. Responding to the ever-increasing filtering and manipulation of news, Hirschhorn, in a series of new work currently on view at Gladstone Gallery, seeks to unearth what others don’t want us to see. The truth is brutal. Gruesomely severed limbs, mangled children’s torsos and hard-to watch animal cruelty are just some of the things that Hirschhorn wants to bring to light. The point is, of course, not the shocking imagery but who exactly is doing the editing and why. Is an unedited version of a war zone more likely to end the war? Or does the public need to be protected from offensive imagery? In the age of trigger warnings, safe spaces, and censorship by museums, Hirschhorn raises a ton of very uncomfortable questions. At Gladstone through December 22.

Alex Katz refuses to slow down. At ninety years, Katz can still surefootedly drag a 12-foot wet line across an enormous canvas with an outcome so crisp and faultless, it seems to eschew human intervention. In a series of new works, currently on view at Gavin Brown, he intensifies the yellow of a Maine sunset and plays with skin and hair tonalities: chocolate brown, biscuit-white, and milky-cream vs. oatmeal, ebony, and henna red.  Aside from a few magnificent landscapes and a couple of smaller cityscapes, his new billboard-like compositions examine multiple figure configurations; either full-scale or in variations of his signature cropped face format. Saturated with surface energy, they display an intensity and clarity that transcends art trends and that has cemented his place in art history among the foremost American post-war artists. At GBE through December 22.

Thomas Struth is taking a little de-tour in his phenomenally successful photographic practice. Chiefly known for his monumental streetscapes, museum tableaus, and towering images of technological laboratories, Struth is turning his discerning lens onto the fragility of the natural world. The German photographer spent eighteen months at the Institute for Zoological and Wildlife Research in Berlin and photographed the deceased animals that the institute uses for their research into conservation and adaptability. The result is utterly disheartening. A majestic Sea-eagle splayed on a cold metallic surface, a red fox delicately placed on the floor, an exquisite zebra motionless – its once shiny coat lifeless and dull. For Struth, their removal from their natural habitat is, of course, a memento mori for our own mortality and a reminder that about 60 percent of us do not die peacefully in our sleep but instead in an unfamiliar hospital bed. (There is a disclaimer at the entrance to the show stating all animals died of natural causes). At Marian Goodman through December 22.

Katharina Fritsch’s work navigates the fragile precipice between reality and fiction. Her sculptural practice centers on hyperreal and meticulously constructed every-day objects like body parts, pieces of fruit, domestic animals, or ordinary household objects which she then prods into the surreal by manipulating scale, color, and placement. Deeply concerned with the mental imprint that an object leaves behind, Fritsch unsettling sculptures play with perception and memory and relentlessly attempt to pinpoint the moment when an object morphs into symbol. At Matthew Marks through December 22.

“Delirious”, the unapologetically fun exhibition currently on view at the Met Breuer, explores how an international group of artists in the 1960s and 1970s declared war on Order, Stability, and Rationality and instead made art that was messy, hallucinary, and sometimes outright deranged. Arranged around four sections, Vertigo, Excess, Nonsense, and Twisted, the show exhibits sixty-three artists from Europe, the US and South America who employ humor, repetition, and the effects of hallucinogenic drugs, to take the air out of privilege, consumerism, urbanization and the absurdity of war. Here is Yayoi Kusama’s high heels & dicks assemblage “Ladder” from 1963 perfectly at home in Marcel Breuer’s stone and concrete masterpiece from 1966. At Met Breuer through January 14.

Jim Shaw is a masterful observer of the American psyche. A new set of drawings, sculptures, paintings and video work explores the rat wheels of our consumer cult, the ever-tightening noose of technology, our absurd political landscape, the high-jacking of religion for political gains, and the merciless influence of big money onto our political and cultural institutions. Shaw culls the imagery of his paintings and drawings from popular culture, history, religion, and social media. Dark, and bitingly sarcastic, they are meticulously detailed snapshots of a country that seems near the edge of a nervous breakdown. At Metro Pictures through December 22.

Iraqi-born artist Hayv Kahraman’s achingly beautiful paintings weave stories around female identify and sexuality amid the harsh backdrop of forced migration, displacement and cultural assimilation. Kahraman’s unique intensely lyrical style borrows from female representation in Renaissance compositions, Japanese painting, and Persian miniatures. Set on a neutral background of raw linen, groups of nude or partially covered women with luxurious ebony-black hair and crimson-red Komachi-Beni-style lips, seem to float in a melancholic netherworld tinged with profound sorrow. In a new set of works, currently on view at Jack Shainman gallery, the artist includes strands of an ancient Persian weaving technique derived from the Mahaffa, a hand-held fan made from palm tree leaves. The weavings feel like shreds in a fabric that countless women must pierce together again in a strange land after the trauma of leaving behind their loved ones, their culture and pieces of their identity. At Jack Shainman Gallery through December 20.

New York-based artist Jacqueline Humphries’ new large-scale works contain rows upon rows of tiny, printed symbols, emoticons and kaomoji which form the background music to large energetic crescendos of sweeping brushstrokes and dynamic colors.  Move close to the canvas and hear hypnotic sounds of rain drops or the pitter-patter of children’s’ feet. Step away from the works and swells of shadows, colors and forms engulf. The result is a beautifully balanced symphony. At Greene Naftali through December 16.

Emma Amos weaves spirited stories about black lives that seek to negate an often-jaundiced portrayal of African-Americans in the mainstream public discourse. Amos frames her subjects in both historical and ordinary every-day contexts and thereby manages to dignify, elevate, and democratize black culture. Culling from a long and multi-faceted career in painting, printmaking, and weaving, the New-York based artist often incorporates hand-made or African-sourced textiles within her paintings or frames her work in exuberantly colored fabrics. Now in her late 70s, the artist still produces exquisite works teaming with energy and movement and which exude a quiet beauty that transcends adversity and contempt. At Ryan Lee through December 16.

A restless dystopian thread runs through Ashley Bickerton’s work. Not wedded to a particular genre, Bickerton moves between sculpture, photo-realistic painting, photography, and mixed media constructions. The first mid-career survey of his work, currently on view at the Flag Foundation, mimics his fretful jumpiness by forgoing a formal time or genre-based organization in favor of a carefully curated discombobulation. Yet certain key ideas emerge. The fault line lies between his twelve-year stunt in New York’s East Village art scene in the 1980s and his move, in 1993, to the island paradise of Bali. Bickerton’s earlier works show an obsessive preoccupation with logos, brand names and floatation devices which he morphs into mixed media works that feel like preparations for the end of the world. Balinese surfer life has done little to tamper his subversive spirit. Bickerton’s slyly demagogic photorealist paintings shock the art world out of pigeonholing him; his gaudy portraits of nymphs play with gender and race and are often encased in rich iconographic frames recalling deities demanding to be worshipped; and his devotion to sharks, beads, flowers and fish draw attention to his environmental concerns. Bickerton’s visual vocabulary is unlimited and his restlessness profound: a combination that makes one coming back for more. At Flag Foundation through December 16.

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