A delightful show that traces Betty Parsons’ artistic trajectory from the 1920s through 1981 is currently on view at Alexander Gray gallery. The survey is divided into five parts “Becoming an Artist”, “The World as Inspiration”, “Embracing Abstraction”, “Rendering the Invisible Presence” and “Assemblages” and shows Parsons incredible mastery of a variety of styles and media as well as her tremendous savviness as a colorist. Parsons’ embrace abstraction emerged from a desire to capture feelings and mood in the natural world and morphed into soft biomorphic abstractions during the 1970s that remained her most enduring legacy. Here is “Bird in a Boat” from 1971. At Alexander Gray through July 14.

Restless, unconventional and marked by impulsive stylistic shifts, the oeuvre of the late Belgian artist Philippe Vandenberg defies characterization yet is revered precicely for its inability to tick a particular formal or aesthetic box. The thin loose thread that runs through his countless experimentations, U-turns and impulsive about-faces illustrates Vandenberg’s immense indignation at urgent social concerns and exposes a fierce passion for literature, art history and language. The last years of Vandenberg’s artistic output were marked by intense investigations into the intersections of language, text and color that produced multi-layered and rich drawings, paintings and book projects and are now part of a titillating exhibition curated by the director of the CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Art, Anthony Huberman. Particularly compelling are Vandenberg’s word play drawings that manage to simultaneously fuse symbolism, language and text into brilliant abstract compositions. At Hauser & Wirth through July 28.

Tomorrow is the last day to see the intoxicatingly silly dance extravaganza “Whipped Cream” produced by Alexei Ratmansky and performed by the stellar American Ballet Theater at the Metropolitan Opera House. With a re-discovered score by Richard Strauss and a fantastical set design by Mark Ryden, the ballet centers around a young boy with an irresistible sweet tooth. For those who are missing the show, there is still a chance to see Ryden’s dazzling drawings, sketches and paintings which he created in preparation for the sugary dance. In Charlie-and-the Chocolate-Factory meets Wayne Thiebaud, Ryden overindulges on pink pralines, tiered vanilla cakes and candy-colored confections, plunging the viewer into a meticulously illustrated fantasy world of pink ballerinas, wizards and kitschy sugar-coated fairy tales. At Paul Kasmin Gallery through July 21.

 

 [The genital organs] aren’t scandalous. Quite the opposite. I put them in my pictures because I want to be even more of a realist than I am. There’re still lifes. They’re like whispered suggestions I get from my mouth, but in my paintings I’ve often wanted to camouflage the mouth. The mouth, now that’s real desire. – Carol Rama.  At the New Museum through September 10.

Los Angeles-based painter and musician Llyn Foulkes’ diverse painting practice ranges from landscapes, mixed media assemblages to layering in relief. Bitingly sarcastic and gleefully anti-establishment, Foulkes likes to take on the grand pillars of corporate greed, the superficiality of the art world, and the wholesomeness of Disney. Foulkes’ macabre bloody head portraits barely contain his anger. Politicians, businessmen, Hollywood agents are shown with smashed-in faces, the gruesome bloody mess obliterating their identity. A carefully curated selection of Foulkes’ disparate oeuvre is currently on view at David Zwirner through June 24.

It’s a tricky thing when an artist involves his family in the art making process. Is it artistic nepotism? The cementing of a dynasty? For the late Swiss conceptual artist, Dieter Roth, having his family working alongside him seemed as natural as picking up a paint brush. Roth’s studio was not only a place of personal artistic expression and intense experimentation but also a sort of family business where Roth’s son, Björn, worked closely with his father and eventually his grandsons Oddur and Einar joined in as well. The output of this most unusual family collaboration is currently on view at Hauser & Wirth. There is a sprawling re-installation of Roth’s studio space complete with paintings by Björn; Roth’s seminal artist’s books, “Flacher Abfall/Flat Waste” a sprawling installation of over 600 binder’s that hold the family’s garbage and finally, for those viewers in need of some sustenance, there is the “Roth Bar” a recreation of a bar made by Roth of salvaged materials that serve such hipster food as Vegan sunchoke soup and cruelty free lattes. At Hauser & Wirth through July 29.

 ‘Fear and Loathing in American Suburbia’ has long been the topic of Eric Fischl’s figurative painting practice. Once considered the wellspring of the American Dream, the nation’s suburbs have provided Fischl with a stream of psychologically charged material of dysfunction and despair. Skarstedt is currently showing a series of new paintings by Fischl that painfully hold a mirror to what ails America. All set around a swimming pool, the quintessential gateway into middle class, Fischl claws at the veneer of decorum, respectability and success to expose a society saturated with consumer goods but devoid of humanity. In “Late America”, a boy draped in an American flag regards a despairing nude white male while immigrant gardeners dispassionately go about their business. A bleak analogy for the present and a decidedly pessimistic outlook for the next generation. At Skarstedt through June 24.

The nine paintings by Ellsworth Kelly, completed shortly before his death in 2015 and currently on view at Matthew Marks Gallery, are a posthumous gift to all fans of Minimalism. Rigorously controlled and flawlessly executed, the works are a tour de force that show the dynamic relationships between shape, form and color; depth and density, weight and balance. Hovering between sculpture and painting, they are exemplary studies of the malleability of color and perception. At Matthew Marks through June 24.

Count on Fergus McCaffrey Gallery to bring us the best and brightest stars of the Japanese avant-garde. The gallery is now representing the estate of the renowned Gutai artist Toshio Yoshida and is currently showing thirty works made between 1954 and 1983. A founding member of Gutai, Yoshida was often dramatically ahead of his Western peers, particularly regarding the interface between action and painting, and was a tireless innovator of new materials and form. The range of his practice is stunning. Early burn paintings, give way to monochrome minimalist canvases and morph into action paintings and experimentations with bubbles and foam. The word Gutai means “concreteness” and was meant as a counterpoint to abstract painting and a rallying cry to do what no one else had done before. The works on view reflect this mantra and seem as fresh today as they were when they were made some sixty years ago. At Fergus McCaffrey through June 24.

Nancy Spero’s “Maypole” is getting a timely airing. The artist’s installation, first shown as part of the 52nd Venice Biennale, and originally conceived as a protest against the senseless atrocities of the Iraq war, has since become a powerful symbol denouncing any armed conflict. Blood-red ribbons and black chains stream from the top of a maypole and hold cut out heads of anguished women floating body-less in a never-ending purgatory. The double-sided heads are printed on paper and mounted on cut aluminum – their delicacy adding to the symbolic weight. Then and now, Spero’s grotesque dance represents a convincing manifesto against political terror, abuse of power and the senselessness of war. At Galerie Lelong through June 17.

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