The new works of Cecily Brown are breathtaking. Coming at the heels of her critically acclaimed drawing show at the Drawing Center late last year, Brown’s exhilarating exhibition pivots around a massive triptych called A Day! Help! Help! Another Day! The title is taken from a poem by Emily Dickinson where she pleads for more time in the battle of the soul. Whose soul Brown has in mind is the question, for the ferocious painting tells of a shipwreck, and a recent one at that. Fragmented Burqa-clad figures and shreds of bearded faces pinpoint to a refugee boat in the Mediterranean. Horizon-less, except for a ray of sun in the middle, and almost devoid of the ocean, the chaotic scene reminds of the most famous shipwreck in art history, The Raft of Medusa. Yet unlike Théodore Géricault’s somber color palette, Brown dramatically employs wide brushstrokes of burnt orange, sapphire blue, sea green, and fleshy hues of pink and brown. Aside from a vicious battle for survival, the work is a dense battle between the representational and abstraction and proves that Cecily Brown is master in revealing the visceral possibilities of paint. At Paula Cooper Gallery through December 2.

Lately, my clothes dryer has been giving me grief. It stops suddenly in mid-cycle with a high-pitched ringtone demanding to clean out the lint filter. But it’s always empty! I don’t know what it is trying to tell me. I should ask Mary Kelly. The Los Angeles-based artist has been making art from her dryer lint for decades. Three of her pieces in a new exhibition, currently on view at Mitchell-Innes & Nash, are large scale works of compressed lint onto which a projector beams historical images. A snapshot from the London Blitz in “Circa 1940”, Pre-revolutionary Paris in “Circa 1968”, and an image from the Arab Spring in “Circa 2011”. The works have a black-and-white-movie quality to it; the pictures are blurry and hard to make out. We are looking at history through an ever-evolving lens that continuously questions, probes, and blurs. Here, the lint has only a supporting role – possibly to highlight a traditional female perspective. Does this solve my clothes dryer problem? Probably not. At Mitchell-Innes & Nash through November 22.

Like many of his radical 1960’s contemporaries, Douglas Huebler’s conceptual art practice celebrated the dematerialization of form in favor of ideas and concepts. In the end, though, the art-viewing public craved something to see, touch or hear. Huebler, like many of his peers, grudgingly obliged. Some of the corporeal results of Huebler’s theories are now on view at Paula Cooper Gallery. They are oddly captivating. An untitled formica and plywood structure with brushed aluminum from 1966 recalls a Pez dispenser where a good part of the top has been bitten off by an impatient candy-addict. Another untitled piece from 1967, is a small geometric powder-blue wall sculpture that deftly plays with three-dimensionality and movement. Other forms slyly train the mind onto what is absent or implied. Here is Truro Series # 1 from 1966, a formica on plywood structure that on first blush imagines Superman in the artist’s small hometown of Truro, Massachusetts but is really a brilliant conceptual piece on internal and external space. At Paula Cooper through November 18.

Cary Smith’s buoyant works are proof that there are still plenty of possibilities in geometric abstraction. Meticulously executed, Smith’s works pick up the pictorial language of the classics but breathe fresh life into the minimalist art form through innovative color combinations and clever new spacial relationships. Energetic crisscrossing grey and yellow lines on white backroad recall shattered glass, whereas the same line gets disciplined into multi-dimensional grids in a blue or red environment. Elsewhere, multi-colored blocks of color dance on a powder-blue background and closely-set geometric circles on back background inspire movement and speed. Smith often frames his compositions in multi-hued outlines so that the visual experience is different on various entry points of the pictorial plane. Cary Smith is a masterful manipulator of color which he teases out to dramatic effect with expertly placed lines and forms. At Fredericks & Freiser through November 18.

If you could present your passions and ideas on a shelf, what would it contain? Claes Oldenburg gave it a try. In a nostalgic look back on a long and productive artist career, Oldenburg assembled fifteen mise-en-scènes on standard metal shelves combining miniature versions of some of his most iconic objects together with personal doodads and random studio finds. “Shelf Life”, an exhibition currently on view at Pace Gallery, is a move away from Oldenburg’s enormous, glossy sculptures and provides a whimsical and sentimental look back on the artist’s concepts and inspirations. Shelf Life Number 8 is a somber city scape that features two of his iconic brown light switches. In Shelf Life Number 6, standards, like the banana peel and the paint brush, get center stage. Shelf Life Number 2 has a sports theme (who knew), and Shelf Life Number 11 is a beautiful assemblage of miniature metal sculptures. Shelf Life Number 1 is my favorite, where a clever trio of plaid bunnies invent a new form of catapult bowling. At Pace, through November 11.

The current exhibition of Louise Bourgeois’ works on paper at Moma is breathtaking. Tirelessly innovative throughout her long, productive career, Bourgeois employed both formal, technical innovation and impromptu experimentations with a dazzling array of media to explore recurring categories in her oeuvre. Bourgeois dug deep into her own personal psyche and found shame, fear, and desire: enzymes that ferment problems in human sexuality, relationships between women and men and which complicate the role of a mother in society. The artist’s work with fabric is particularly moving. Although raised in a family of tapestry restorers, textile only found a place in her work in the last decade of her life. Ordinary household fabrics like napkins, dishtowels, bedsheets, and even her late husband’s dress shirts acquired splendid prints or were used to make magnificent collages. This is “Spiral Woman” from 2002, a tribute to all women who struggle in a suffocating loop of being mothers, daughters, wives, and sexual objects. At Moma through January 28.

It is hard to find fault with Peter Doig. His new works, currently on view at Michael Werner, pivot around two large paintings: A study of a bather in “Red Man (Sings Calypso)” and an eerie nightscape trio in “Two Trees”. Both are exceptional. In “Red Man”, Doig centers an athletic swimmer on a beach in front of a Bacon-like metal life-guard structure. Firmly grounded, the man looks straight at the viewer, clasping his hands in front of his muscular chest, the rawness of the flesh again echoing Bacon. Doig plays with shadows to render his bather racially ambiguous. The face and chest are of a white male, yet the bottom half of the figure belongs to a black man. The clasp of the hands indicates a third, benevolent, white hand. The composition of the painting is text-book perfect. With the bather in the center, Doig divides the space into three horizontal sections; a second, purple bather in sunglasses wrestling with a large snake is off-set by the bright red-and-white buoy on the left. Step back, look again and you will find the result deeply unsettling. Peter Doig can inject a sense of unease into sunny setting where both calm and danger, reality and illusion collide in a spectacular show of artistic ingenuity. At Michael Werner through November 18.

It seems entirely logical that Omer Fast would finally cross paths with August Sander. Fast’s videos largely hover between documentary and fiction, masterly melding the ‘Real, and the ‘Imagined’. He loves ‘The What Ifs’. His new 3D video “August” envisions the eminent German photographer old, broken, and tortured by the memories of his son who died defying the Nazis. Sander used to measure the distance between himself and his subjects with string; it both distanced him from his sitters and at the same time bound them to him. This is in this netherworld that Omer Fast is most comfortable in. The perversion of Sander’s work by the Nazis haunted Sanders until his death and yet Fast imagines him photographing a Nazi officer: the documentation of a particularly evil tribe. The movie is disturbing and disorienting but try to find the gallery! Fast completely revamped the exterior and interior of the James Cohan gallery into a pre-gentrification Chinatown shop, complete with a dilapidated exterior, two non-working cash machines, and a grimy counter selling cheap phones and lottery tickets: A play that was well received in the art world but which sparked protests among a group of Chinatown residents who felt pigeonholed by an out-of-touch elite. At James Cohan through October 29.

Larry Rivers would have loved social media. Born in 1940 in the Bronx as Yitzroch Loiza Grossberg, Rivers craved the public eye, re-inventing himself several times during his chaotic life as musician, poet, actor, sculptor and painter; all with the chutzpah of an all-around bad boy. It seems fitting then, that he should take on some of the sacred cows of the self-important art establishment and give them a little taste of the Larry Rivers treatment. A fine selection of the artist’s (Re)Appropriations are currently on view at Tibor de Nagy Gallery. They include parodies of Shakespeare, American consumer culture, and take-downs of de Kooning and Matisse. The undisputed highlight of the exhibition is Rivers’ masterpiece of the acclaimed poet Frank O’Hara painted nude with boots. It’s a defiant but tender token of their friendship which proves Rivers’ mastery of realism at a time when only abstract art was considered avant-garde. At Tibor de Nagy Gallery through October 29.

Louise Fishman is a serious painter. Working over a variety of formats and mediums, Fishman, in a new series of works currently on view at Cheim & Read, defies the inherent flatness in painting with wide, energetic brushstrokes and overlapping angular forms. The artist’s handling of color and surface is superb. Her electrifying works display a materiality both in composition and in terms of color and scale that is breathtaking and whose spirit and ferociousness Fishman saps from her tireless feminist work and as a determined gay rights activist. Cheim & Read through October 28.

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