Picking up from her now iconic Kitchen Series, the new work of artist Carrie Mae Weems expands on questions of image appropriation and on-screen representation of black female culture. In the photo series “Scenes & Takes”,  Weems assumes the persona of her black-robed alter-ego actress in imaginary elegant and sophisticated settings or in front of an empty stage. Shot from the back, Weems’ solitary character oozes vulnerability and loneliness articulated by the accompanying text that places her into an imaginary world of sophisticated clamour and fame that is at odds with the pop culture image of female black artists in film and music. By employing her own body as means of expression, Weems maintains that achieving more diversity in film and theatre is not simply a question of putting more non-white faces on the screen. It also is a also question of how the character is being perceived if the producers, writers, directors, and audience are white men. At Jack Shainman through December 10.

Lauren Marsolier’s photograph exhibition “Dislocation” is a timely interpretation of the pre- and post-election emotional labyrinth that many Americans have found themselves in during this contentious election. Marsolier deftly dismantles and reconstructs photographs of various locations into fictional environments that are both decidedly sterile and eerily desolate. The newly created settings are neither here nor there – disorienting not only in the ambiguity of time and place but also in the presence of a vague undertone of dread. In this political climate, Marsolier’s photographs reach across party divides. They can be understood as a manifestation of the sense of dislocation that led to the current crisis but also the psychological dislocation that many experienced long after the last vote was tallied up. At Galerie Richards through November 20.

Carolee Schneemann, the grand dame of feminist art, still has plenty left to say. A joint representative exhibition at PPOW and Galerie Lelong, assembles little seen video and installation work from the last thirty years that delve into Schneemann’s investigations into the female body in history, sexuality as politic tools, and mental captivity. In the multi-media installation “Known/Unknown: Plague Column” at PPOW, Schneemann examines the history of health and illness in a gender context, where permutated cancer cells metastasize amid a background of religious symbolism; no doubt a comment on how female diseases like breast cancer have had received only lagging attention until recently when, in a bizarre twist, campaigns promoting breast cancer awareness are now trivialized into marketing tools and even at times overtly sexualized. At PPOW and Galerie Lelong through December 3.

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.

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