May brings blockbuster shows to New York galleries trying to woo collectors attending the top auctions and fairs.
The Chelsea district boasts Richard Avedon’s photo murals at Gagosian; Anish Kapoor’s giant sphere at Gladstone Gallery; and angst-stoking London pictures by Gilbert & George at Lehmann Maupin and Sonnabend.
The season’s surprise is Pier Paolo Calzolari, who helped bring about a melding of two galleries, when Marianne Boesky and Pace broke through their common wall, creating 6,000 square feet of space.
The 69-year-old artist, an original member of Italy’s Arte Povera movement, hasn’t shown in the U.S. since 1988. He uses organic and ephemeral materials such as wax, water, fire and frost, often on a monumental scale.
In one room, the ceiling has been dropped and covered in wax, with small blue neon tubes flashing like flames and an old kettle brewing coffee.
Even the humblest materials are gracefully assembled and rich in allusions. “Untitled (Tall fish tank)” from 1978-80 is a 12-foot-tall lead plank, partly submerged in a fish tank with a lone koi swimming back and forth.
A lead-covered wooden door stands in the corner offering an entrance to nowhere; on the floor, a tiny motorized pig keeps trying to get in, its legs moving with frantic futility.
In Pace, the focal point is a bath tub with a spouting fountain inside and a hollow egg on a string, above. Occasionally, the installation emits gurgling sounds.
Prices range from $160,000 to $1.3 million. The show -- titled “When the dreamer dies, what happens to the dream?” -- runs through June 2 at 509 W. 24th St.; +1-212-680-9889; http://www.marianneboeskygallery.com and 510 W. 25th St.; +1-212-255-4044; http://www.thepacegallery.com
Tauba Auerbach’s first solo show at Paula Cooper Gallery is titled “Float” and her elegant abstract paintings and sculptures appear to be hovering in the light-washed space.
The exhibition includes the 30-year-old’s signature trompe l’oeil paintings that mimic the folds, creases and shadows of wrinkled fabric with seamlessly sprayed acrylic paint.
In her new “Weave” series, the reliefs and recesses are real. These monochromatic canvases feature interwoven straps of cream-colored canvas creating handsome, intricate topography.
Prices range from the mid-$20,000s to $60,000. The show runs through June 9 at 521 W. 21st St.; +1-212-255-5247; http://paulacoopergallery.com
Things are a lot messier in “Piano in the Rain” by 35-year-old Dana Schutz, at Friedrich Petzel Gallery.
Colors explode as the artist assails canvas with brushes, scrapers, squeegees and oil crayons to create various moods and textures.
Dysfunctional scenes abound: One pink-eyed character of unclear gender is setting his or her ear on fire. Another is injecting himself with heroin on a windy day with objects flying around.
The largest painting, “Building the Boat While Sailing,” is 10 feet by 13 and recalls Gericault’s “The Raft of the Medusa.” Painted against a bright-orange sky, the characters regurgitate, hammer, pass out and plunge into the sea while the construction seems to be going nowhere.
Prices range from $45,000 to $250,000. The show runs through June 16 at 537 W. 22nd St.; +1-212-680-9467; http://www.petzel.com.
Muse highlights include Jason Harper on cars.
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