In the movie “The Square”, the chief curator at a Stockholm museum is continually shooting himself in the foot by slavishly trying to adhere to politically correct rules that seem to be shifting faster than he can think ‘socially-articulated performance art’. Unperturbed by the ups and downs of the art markets and the ins and outs of the cultural elite, Robert Ryman has been giving homage to the Square for almost six decades. He devotes the same rigorous veracity regarding materiality, light, and spatial relationship to his drawing practice as he does to his paintings. Originally trained as a jazz musician, Ryman stays true to a chord progression yet experiments relentlessly with different melodic lines. An elegantly presented show of over fifty drawings by Ryman is now on view at Pace Gallery. They prove that a quietly cerebral art practice that is resting on a judicious foundation is ultimately impervious to any fashion trend. At Pace Gallery through March 24.

Distilling the human head down to a few essential outlines, German-born, Brooklyn-based artist Volker Hüller builds up the base and outline of his large-scale monochrome canvases with disparate materials such as grass, fake crocodile skin, thread, stone, linen, cardboard, collaged canvas and cotton. Hüller’s simplified features may remind of the elongated shapes of Easter Island head sculptures or the elegant facial outlines of Mondigliani or Picasso but the real punch effect of each of his new canvases is the psychological impact of color. Color psychology is, of course, deeply subjective. Depending on the viewer, red and yellow may evoke comfort or warmth; green and grey white may spark calm or sadness. Hüller calls these works “tonics”; indeed, they are invigorating and uplifting visual tonics for the weary soul. At Van Doren Waxter through March 23.

“I mostly pick up stuff; I start on a picture when I get a whole lot of stuff together. And then I look at the piece and think about life”. A fine selection of Thornton Dial’s complex assemblages and powerful paintings is currently on view at David Lewis. Dial’s relief paintings are densely packed with everything from shoes, gloves, bedding, carpets, artificial flowers, crushed paint cans, found metal, frying pan, cooking utensils, chain, and wood; all held together with industrial sealing compound or paint on wood. Dynamic and persuasive, Dial’s work contemplates the anguish of black struggle in the south but also feminist concerns and inhabits a profound reverence for the natural world. Also on view are Dial’s iconic Tiger Painting “Lady Know How to Hold the Jungle Cat” from 1990 and his free-standing sculpture “The Top of the World” from 1998. At David Lewis through March 18.

Robert Grosvenor’s two-prong sculpture “Untitled” (2016) is flawless in terms of spatial expression and material vivification. Two egg-shell colored plywood bases are grounded by a pair of long overlapping steel pipes. Each base occupies an outward facing tear-drop shaped sculpture fashioned from a translucent plexiglass held by slender angled aluminium pipes, providing additional visual direction. The smaller construction in front is a square aluminium frame anchoring a jaundiced sheet of sagging fiberglass. The combination is breath-taking. Grosvenor manages to corral materiality, color, form, and space into a wonderfully simplistic but endlessly challenging minimalist happening. The confinement of the square white cube is crucial to the sculpture’s existence – it wouldn’t work in free space. It requires the quiet contemplative spiritualism of an enclosed sanctuary; linking architecture, geometry, balance, and material strength. At Paula Cooper through March 17.

Robert Altman’s movie “The Long Goodbye”, after a novel by Raymond Chandler, is about the fragility of things that we are told to last: friendship, love, and loyalty. In a stellar exhibition under the same title, Brooklyn-based artist Dave McDermott variously uses imagery, color and texture to hint at Altman’s elusive pursuit for truthfulness. Broad swaths of gold leaf paint figures big in McDermott’s large-scale canvases. They serve both as a contrast to the melancholy of the subject matter and as allegorical sign-posts which often occupy subjects looking for something that they can no longer recall. “The Humanist” is shown in a multi-limbed contorting spin wheel made of dark yarn, as if the modern spirit of learning is as dizzying as the attempt to keep abreast of fake news. “The Talker” takes up all the space and seems to spew non-sensical art talk, whereas “Lost at Sea” makes expert use of lacquer to show two men floating adrift in a sea of blood-red. By and large, McDermott occupies a peculiar space of wistful melancholy. That he is able work confidently in such complicated emotive territory speaks entirely to his ingenuity as an artist. At Grimm through March 12

The seductive images of Danielle Orchard’s nudes are not necessary connected with sexuality. Just like Matisse, who once famously said that “My curves are not crazy”, Orchard’s fragmented shapes inhabit multi-angled viewpoints and employ a similarly joyful Fauve color palette. Her everyday tableaus are carefree snapshots of modern women rendered in bold color combinations who, like in real life, present different views in the same picture plane. The young Brooklyn-based artist expertly plays with light and shadow, brilliantly manipulates the spatial tension of subject and the picture plane and is able to construct her female subjects through the clever use of color. At Jack Hanley through March 11.

Martha Tuttle’s cerebral textile assemblages and wall hangings have a deep and committed foundation in the poetic and formal language of painting. Tuttle’s silk, wool, and pigment constructions are delicate plays between materiality and geometry and aim to blurr the synthesis between art and craft. Held within an organic color range, Tuttle manipulates the coarseness, transparency, and airiness of minimalist forms within the self-imposed restraints of plain stretcher frames. Freed from the architectural scaffolding, the artists’ wall hangings are flowing layers of fabric; their shape, color, and substance calling attention to the emotional and lyrical content of the work. At Tilton through March 10.

As a rare treat, twenty of Louise Nevelson’s imposing black and white painted wood sculptures are currently on view at Pace Gallery. Set amid a pitch-black background, Sky Cathedral from 1964 is a re-interation of its more famous counterpart at the Museum of Modern Art. It is magnificent in its cimmerian monumentality. The work, which comprises of 18 elements, is an ingenious assemblage of stacked boxes filled with wooden furniture, spools, and mechanical parts, held together by the artist’s signature monochromatic blackness. It evokes the spiritual transcendence and stillness of a place of worship and is nurturing our spiritual imagination in the age of an increasingly fracturous political climate. At Pace through March 3.

Amy Sillman’s polymorphous works on paper offer an innovative and sincere interrogation on the possibilities and technical complexities of drawing. Mostly sticking with a single format of 40 1/8 x 26 inches within simple white frames, Sillman offers a multitude of visual focal points. Dynamic, thick brushwork that veer from forceful to ambiguous are carefully laid over abstract color planes allowing occasional glimpses of delicate grids of silkscreen. Unconventional and challenging, Sillman’s formalist works display a brainy beauty and an enticing sense of color; as if by happy circumstance Sigmar Polke and Laura Owens decided to do a suite of drawings that they then called paintings. At Gladstone 64 through March 3.

A scintillating small exhibition in a tucked-away gallery at the Metropolitan Museum of Art brings together a group of stellar New York artists who, through a number of experimental processes found innovative ways to play with color, line, composition and texture and, along the way, often found a compelling story to tell. Among several other worthy artists, “Range: Experiments in New York, 1961-2007” takes the brilliant excuse to show some of the New-York-School artist and writer Joe Brainard’s wonderful works on paper. A small collection of simply framed gouaches, collages and cut-outs, provides a luminous depiction of ordinary things and dispenses a quiet, whimsical patina on the poetry of everyday life. At the Metropolitan Museum of Art through February 25.

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