In their fascinating book “RUBBISH! The Archaeology of Garbage”, authors William Rathje and Cullen Murphy argue that “we are what we throw away”, and that what we throw away gives us useful insights into our lives and even into our culture as a whole. Lithuanian artist Aidas Bareikis has been roaming the sidewalks, flea markets and junkyards for years assembling what others throw away into his altarlike complex installations. In his new work currently shown at Canada, Bareikis wraps, stacks and sandwiches trash into sculptural installations that often use found furniture as plinths. He then “varnishes” his sculptures with paint or leaves them exposed to the elements. Bareikis knows that garbage doesn’t lie -it provides a window into the lives we lead and proves that consumerism is a beast that feeds on our throw-away society and imperils our efforts for a cleaner planet. Through December 4.

The venerable Parisian dealer Almine Rech opened her new gallery space in New York with a stunner. “Calder and Picasso” is curated by the artists’ grandsons, Alexander S. C. Rower and Bernard Ruiz-Picasso and is bringing together many rare and never seen works from family and artist foundations from the two masters. Rower and Ruiz-Picasso are fortunate enough to live with many of the works and over a two-year dialogue were able to see obvious and also more inconspicuous connections between the work of the two artists. Unlike the oft contentious rivalry between Picasso and Matisse, Calder and Picasso were able to influence each other subtly and from a distance. Their shared political views created an urgency to use their art as vehicles for social justice and their pre-occupation with space and the malleability of the line make for some of the more brilliant pairings in the show. Here is a Calder masterpiece from 1944, “Dancer” a delicate balancing act in four parts. Through December 17.

“I paint from remembered landscapes that I carry with me – and remembered feelings of them, which of course become transformed. I could certainly never mirror nature. I would more like to paint what it leaves with me.” Joan Mitchell, the fervent defender of American Abstract Expressionism is getting a new airing with a marvellous show at Cheim & Read of paintings and drawings from 1958 until her death in 1992. Mitchell’s move to France in 1959 intensified her admiration for Matisse and Van Gogh – artists that reflect her mastery of color and light, her sweeping brushstrokes, and studious composition. Her works are often connected to mediations on nature and poetry but her turbulent gestures reveal a more complex picture of a woman often at odds with herself and the world. Through December 23.

This fall New Yorkers have a unique opportunity to view two exemplary approaches to abstract expressionist sculpture, all within two city blocks from each other. At Paula Cooper Gallery Mark di Suvero’s mid-sized steel sculptures display split personalities where the light, curvy, and floating self is tethered to the heavier, bulky and more burdensome corporeality via moorings such as the plinth, anchor and chain, or simply through the physical relationship with the ground. Time and again, Di Suvero’s winning compositions combine the found and the made, the geometric and organic and make expert use of the malleability and different textures of steel into timeless, cerebral narratives. Through December 10.

At David Zwirner, Carol Bove integrates many of Di Suvero’s starting points into decidedly different outcomes. Like her senior counterpart, Bove’s assemblages also meld the found and the made, the geometric and the abstract, and also make expert use of the texture of different kinds of steel. Bove, however, sets herself apart through her deft grasp of color that accentuates or negates the malleability of the material. In Bove’s accomplished practice, long geometric steel tubes in bright primary colors bend like rubber and elegant white steel coils can feel as light as paperclips. She then inserts these made forms into salvaged pieces creating a sculptural relationship where the Found and the Made dance, mate, fight or support each other. It is this opening of new possibilities that elevates Bove above many of her peers and that makes me look forward to her contribution for Switzerland at the Venice Biennale next year. Through December 17.

On December 27, 1950, Max Beckmann set out on foot from his apartment on the Upper West Side in New York to see the exhibition “American Painting Today” at the Metropolitan Museum of Art which featured one of his self portraits. On the corner of 69th Street and Central Park West Beckmann had a massive heart attack and died. This fall, the Met is honoring Beckmann’s legacy in New York with a brilliant show that features 14 paintings that the artist created in New York and several more borrowed from New York collections. Beckmann came to New York via Amsterdam and St. Louis after his meteoric success in Germany was cut short by the ascent of Nazism in 1933. It must have been quite a shock. Beckmann, who so dramatically related the horror, violence, and madness that engulfed Europe before and during war, was thrust into a country that was hopelessly optimistic. Yet under the veneer of the glitzy New York nightlife, slick TV ads promising suburban Utopia, and the confidence of an ascending political superpower, Beckmann suspected the all too familiar villains of political intolerance, greed and social injustice. Here is Beckmann’s “The Town (City Night)” from 1950, where a young vulnerable nude girl is exposed to the darker side of the city. Through February 20.

Dismissed by critics as “retinal titillations” and “optical delusions”, Op Art and its sculptural counterpart Kinetic Art have long fought the stigma of merely being gimmicky entertainment for the eye. New York based artist Loie Hollowell is challenging this highbrow critique by introducing the human body and its myriad ways of looking at it into her brilliantly executed and sexually charged abstractions. In Hollowell’s work, subtle nuances of color, shape and light are clever facilitators for illusion and depth and morph into sensual bodily landscapes that channel the symbolism of Georgia O’Keefe or the transcendentalist outlines of Agnes Pelton. By keeping her luscious shapes deliberately ambiguous and surreal, Hollowell not only invokes the optical illusion of the physical body but also the lingering sensation of desire. At Feuer/Mesler through December 8.

Trenton Doyle Hancock’s complex new paintings are fantastical semi-sculptural works that weave storytelling, childhood impressions and socio-politics into the collapsing narrative frames of the graphic novel. In the masterfully executed Cubist-Comic “The She Wolf Amongst Them Fed Undom’s Conundrum”, a lithe football player is battling a brainy she-monster amid a background of ghostly forest ghouls. Hancock employs the familiar staggered grid of the graphic novel as foundation but then scatters the letters of the palindrome text at the bottom into the scene, leaving the viewer to pierce together his own personalized storyline. Echoing Picasso and Matisse, the work is a technical feast that proves Hancock’s keen color awareness, superb knowledge of spatial composition and his mastery of Gestalt principals. At James Cohan through November 27.

It is hard to post an image of a painting by Agnes Martin. Throughout her career, Martin strived to represent subjective emotions in her hand-made paintings – a sentiment that she hoped would transfer onto the viewer but hardly comes through on a screen. A fascinating video as part of the extraordinary retrospective of Martin’s work currently on view at the Guggenheim Museum shows Martin at work with this spiritual communion through the brush. The film shows Martin at the twilight of her career working at a large canvas with deep concentration and a steady hand but with an emotive transcendence that is acutely palpable. This painting is from this later period of Martin’s career where she took a break from the strict grids and stripes of minimalism and returned to a gentler, more nature-based form of Abstract Expressionism. She also started to title her works. This one is called Gratitude. Gratitude indeed – Thank you Agnes Martin. Through January 11.

Echoing Brancusi, acclaimed ceramicist Arlene Shechet often integrates the plinth into her elegant, sensuous structures whose allure belies the technical mastery they entail. In Shechet’s new sculptures currently on view at Sikkema Jenkins, clay is at times integrated architecturally in form of bricks and at other times fused like molten lava around underpinnings of wood, steel and concrete. Beautifully presented, Shechet combines dissonant materials that seep into crevices or sprout mold-like growths. Don’t miss Shechet’s dialogue with 18th century Meissen porcelain at the Frick where she intersperses stunning pieces of the Arnhold Collection with works from her residency at the Meissen Porcelain Factory in Germany. At Sikkema Jenkins through November 12. Arlene Shechet “Porcelain No Simple Matter” is on view at the Frick’s Portico Gallery through April 2, 2017.

The Drawing Room is currently showing a marvellous set of drawings by British-born, New York-based artist Cecily Brown. This marks Brown’s institutional solo debut in New York and features some 80 drawings which serve as underpinnings for her dramatic bacchanalian oil paintings. Brown takes inspiration from Old Masters such as Hogarth and Goya, animal encyclopaedias, 19th century erotica, and even from Jimmi Hendrix’s album cover “Electric Ladyland”. Rendered in pencil, pen, crayons, and watercolors, Brown’s drawings are beautiful, sensory fragments with a wonderful undercurrent of unsettling erotic sensibility. The show is called “Rehearsal” but Brown proves that her draftmanship is anything but a rehearsal for her paintings but rather represent brilliant artworks in their own right. Through December 18.

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