The recently opened exhibition, “Naturalia”, impeccably curated by the talented Danny Moyninhan, is yet another jewel-like, museum-quality art exhibition courtesy of the venerated dealer Paul Kasmin. This time, nature with its frightening unpredictability, serene beauty and shockingly brute force is being examined through a series of fine examples of artists’ perception and interpretation of the natural world. Some notable works include meticulous and wonderfully executed 18th century nature illustrations by Barbara Regina Dietsch and Walton Ford’s contemporary response to them; Damien Hirst’s dead fly cemetery; an exquisite miniature still life by Jan Brueghel the Elder; Sean Landers’ majestic markhor; Sam Taylor-Johnson’s ethereal video “Still Life”; and Fred Tomaselli’s brooding nocturnal landscape. Here is Albrecht Dürer’s imaginary Rhinocerus from 1515 which is beautifully juxtaposed with a monumental Walton Ford interpretation of the same mammal. Through March 4.

To escape the almost daily onslaught of horrid news, immerse yourself into Liliane Tomasko’s delightfully seductive abstractions. Originating in the Impressionist concern of painting their own environments, Tomasko’s bold, loose brushstrokes and elegant, decorative aesthetics depict highly abstracted domestic scenes that take a beautifully poetic view on everyday habits. Tomasko works and reworks the surface to reveal underlays of pastel washes, sweeping strokes of thick purple lines, and bold jewel-like colours. Her canvases have an optimistic luminosity and satisfying saturation of colour that sees the sublime in the things that surround us. At Marc Straus through February 5.

To get to Lee Bul’s new works at Lehman Maupin, you must enter through a narrowing mirrored passageway and crouch through a tight exit before entering the gallery space. Bul’s ongoing pre-occupation with the intersection of architectural systems and public consciousness are at the forefront of his new works which share his deep mistrust of technology and beguiling utopias. Like entering the mirrored corridor, new information utopias seem shiny and inviting at first but you can watch yourself in the black mirrors as euphoria turns to claustrophobia and promises of the digital Shangri-La is just your frightened image staring back at you. Through February 11.

Despite of its high-brow credo of using ordinary materials and its close association with the progressive Italian student movement of the 1960s, Arte Povera was essentially a cerebral men’s club. The lone woman, who was tolerated at the margins (no doubt owing to her role as the wife of one of the founders), is finally getting an extensive and long-overdue retrospective at the Met Breuer. Marisa Merz’s work is defined by the materials and processes she had at hand. Her studio was her kitchen and her weapon the knitting needle. For her earliest work she hung enormous molded aluminium forms from her kitchen ceiling which scared her small daughter Bea. She made up for the fright by knitting beautiful little shoes (scarpette) for the child using nylon and copper wire and decorating them with buttons and nails. Over the years, either by default or choice, Merz created works that blurred the line between fine art and function and muddied the role of artist, mother, and wife. The show includes several of Merz’s esoteric heads and faces from the 1980s and 1990s, her haunting Madonna-like drawings, as well as her later, much larger-scaled installation works. But it is the earlier works that stay with you, such as this wooden swing from 1968 which Merz made for Bea and hung from the ceiling of the family apartment. It shows Merz’s keen grasp of geometric minimalism, architectural awareness, and a sense that the nucleolus of our lives are the people who are closest to us. Through May 7.

A series of new works by Dutch artist Hannah van Bart currently on view at Marianne Boesky gallery beautifully explore the infinite possibilities of the line in female portraiture. In Van Bart’s muted paintings, the line is simultaneously meandering and controlled, the blurring of the edges suggest a fragility and transparency that exposes her subjects’ vulnerability and blending into the background – a role that has been traditionally ascribed to women. Van Bart takes the title of the exhibition, “The Smudge Waves Back”, from a scene in the breathtaking historical novel “The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet” by David Mitchell. The figures that emerge from her muted backgrounds are melancholic and mysterious Egon-Schiele-like women that seem beset by the complexity of history and possess a visceral perception of consciousness. As Mitchell fittingly writes in another passage of the same book: “An ink brush is a skeleton key for a prisoner’s mind.” Through February 4.

Hito Steyerl’s acclaimed video installation “Factory of the Sun (2015), currently on view at the Whitney as part of the beautifully curated exhibition “Dreamlands: Immersive Cinema and Art, 1905 – 2016, is an incredibly complex and ultimately sober assessment into the broadening elasticity between news, entertainment and virtual reality. Taking the guise of a video game, “Factory of the Sun” is loosely based on a fictional light and information dependant hegemony that raises urgent questions about the proliferation of reality-based news programming, the tyranny of public opinion, the pitfalls of corporate sponsorship, and the increasing unavoidability of mass surveillance. Through February 5.

What happens when you move from strict catholic Colombia to free-wheeling Holland? A carnal, bold, concupiscent version of Claes Oldenburg, of course! The late Colombian conceptual artist Miguel Ángel Cárdenas moved to Holland in 1962, became Michel Cardena, and immediately started to shed his deep-seated image of the body as shameful and indecent in favour of a sculptural practice that incorporated the use of genetilia, tubes, zippers, spongy materials and bold colours. Aside from staging regular happenings with the usual sixties free-love trimmings, Cárdenas was a pioneer in video and performance art in the Netherlands, exploring sexuality and body awareness that became influential for a new generation of performance artists. At Andrea Rosen through February 4.

Plexiglass came late to British sculptor Sir Anthony Caro. Aged 87 and already renowned for his innovating use of different materials and shapes, Caro became fascinated by the indestructibility and infinite colour possibilities of the acrylic material. Several fine examples of Caro’s plinthless steel and plexiglass structures are now on view at Mitchell-Innes & Nash. They show Caro’s dedication to form, high regard for architecture and a keen understanding of colour which was sharpened by his marriage to British painter Shiela Girling. The exhibition is accompanied by a series of beautiful works on paper that show the artist’s ability to develop three dimensionality on a single plane of paper and which served as inspirations for his later work. Through February 4.

Throughout the ages, hand-crocheted blankets have provided comfort and warmth, and have often been an important vehicle for artistic expression by women denied access to a mostly male-dominated art spectrum. Michelle Grabner’s striking bronze sculptures of crocheted blankets, currently on view at James Cohan, have a decidedly mournful quality. Instead of neatly folded or carelessly crumpled, Grabner presents her blankets vertically, as if held up by two invisible hands. The result is disconcertingly lonely – the human presence is implied but ultimately denied – the original fabric lost in the process of bronzing. The artist pairs these sculptural ghosts with her abstract paintings of the same patterns connecting the abstract to the metaphoric and the conceptual to the corporeal. Through January 28.

“Mastry”, the magnificent retrospective of Kerry James Marshall’s work at the Met Breuer, is first and foremost a long overdue tribute to black bodies on and in front of the canvas. Marshall’s binary approach to an appalling art historic imbalance combines the monumentality of his works and the extraordinary deepness of the color black of his subjects’ skin. Marshall’s use of the blackest black is of course allegorical; his are African-American stories – not a drop of white is needed. The denseness of Marshall’s black often renders the features of his subjects nearly invisible and hints at the obscurity of Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man.  A master storyteller, Marshall weaves the political, urban, suburban, and African-American history into ordinary narratives that are meant to upend popular perceptions of black culture as impoverished, violent or outraged and directly challenge conventional ideals of beauty. Luscious colors, complex compositions, transcendental narratives and an ability to seamlessly work across media: Marshall is shifting expectations on racial identity and art historical discourse by declaring himself and his culture Invisible No More. Through January 29.

WordPress Image Lightbox Plugin