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.

According to its recent advertising pitch, “The new Samsung Family Hub is a revolutionary new refrigerator with a Wi-Fi enabled touchscreen that lets you manage your groceries, connect with your family and entertain like never before”. In addition to improving your social and family life, the new Samsung Family Hub also promises to let you order groceries online, has cameras inside that tell your phone what’s inside, has an app that allows you to control the temperature, and has voice interaction system that lets you talk to your fridge from your car. If that sounds scary to you, it’s because it is. Enter Mark Leckey, the Turner-prize winning artist, who made the horrors of the Samsung Family Hub part of his sprawling exhibition at MOMAPS1. While the rest of the exhibition delves into deeply personal excursions of childhood memories and investigations into the effects of popular culture and music, Leckey’s installation “Green Screen Refrigerator “2010 – 2016” gives center stage to the new Smart Appliance, bookended only by the Samsung Smart Television, Samsung Smart Computer, Samsung Speakers and, of course, the infamous Samsung Smartphone. In an accompanying video, Leckey channels every Samsung executive’s dream and morphs with the inner life of the refrigerator and the brand that it represents. Taken one step further, Leckey of course knows, that in our age of ever widening information availability, your tubs of ice cream and slabs of bacon could one day influence your health insurance rates and that one bottle too many of premium vodka in the Family Hub could jeopardize your college application or nix the promotion that you so desperately deserve. Through March 5.

The birdcages of the late Japanese artist Tetsumi Kudo are exquisite to behold – that is, until you actually look inside. The longer you stare into them, the more unsettling they become. On the outside, Kudo’s metal cages are clad in fun, bright colors often decorated with lovely plastic flowers. But inside the prison something more sinister is afoot. Grotesque body parts are sitting on bird swings, biomorphic growths are clinging to the metal cage, a mold-covered hand is clutching one corner, and menacing looking plants are co-habitating with electric circuit boards. Kudo worked on the birdcages from 1965 until 1981, a time when the threat of a nuclear apocalypse was overwhelmingly part of the public consciousness, pollution and consumerism was chocking body and mind, and when the antagonistic relationship between humans and technology was just being understood. Shockingly, twenty-six years after Kudo’s death, the nucleus of his wide ranging transcultural practice is still pertinent today. At Andrea Rosen through November 16.

In 1968 Austrian artist Maria Lassnig threw off the shackles of a male-dominated and history-chocked European arts milieu and set out for the hotbed of New York’s dynamic downtown arts scene. Lassnig’s twelve-year stay in New York proved extremely formative for the artist and is subject to a small but beautiful exhibition at Petzel Gallery’s uptown location. Several wonderful drawings and arresting watercolors aside, it is the eight paintings that stand out. Lassnig’s theory of Körpergefühl (body awareness) which attempts to transfer bodily sensations and mental vulnerably via the canvas onto the viewer is particularly profound in her haunting self-portraits and has been exceptionally influential on future generations of artists. Selbstporträt mit Gurkenglas (1971) shows a middle-aged Lassnig holding a jar of pickles, defiantly looking at the viewer, the greenish tint of the work reflecting the contents of the jar; a wry commentary on the tumultuous workings of the artist’s inner self. Through October 29.

Long the only way for a woman to artistically express herself, quilt making and textile weaving have contributed to stunning artworks that have inspired and influenced art and design for centuries. Relegated to the Weaving Workshop by their male counterparts at the Bauhaus, female artists like Anni Albers and Gunta Stölzl created beautiful textiles in striking colors and innovative patterns that influenced countless artists since. For her new exhibition at Metro Pictures, New York based photographer Sara VanDerBeek embarked on a meticulous research into American quilt making, Pre-Columbian textiles, and modernist textile weaving to arrive at the geometric plastic sculptures that are the subject of her large scale photographs. She pairs these with actual plaster sculptures of the patterns and in doing so captures the whispers of women quilters, artisans and weavers long past. Through October 29.  

The new works by Ethiopian-born wunderkind Julie Mehretu currently on view at Marian Goodman, have not lost in size but are more soberly cast in a moody palette of grisaille with only occasional smudges of pastel allowed to break the forlorn melancholy. Mehretu’s familiar abstract layerings of acrylic with ink markings reminiscent of pre-historic cave paintings verge on the desolate. The title Hoodnyx, Voodoo and Stelae suggest mythology, bereavement, and the torment of the ghetto – a dark foreboding of the news that is emerging from Mehretu’s home country at the moment. Through October 29.

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