Some would argue that New York City is a town build on commerce. And while it’s true that business is the engine that turns the gears of Gotham, the city’s real heart lies in the souls and minds of creatives who have made this metropolis a bastion for art and culture for centuries.
With museums like the Met, Whitney, Guggenheim, and Frick and small galleries lining the streets of Chelsea, the Lower East Side, and Bushwick – art surrounds you. But it’s not just in these spaces where you can see world-class artistic achievement. Roaming the streets gives you a banquet of soul-satisfying beauty from the splendor of Central Park to the newly built condos of 520 West 28th Street where renowned architect Zaha Hadid’s crowning residential achievement stands as a testament to New York’s enchantment with beauty and art.
But aside from architectural masterpieces like Hadid’s, there are plenty of places for you to feast your eyes on art this winter. Here are some of our top picks:
Andy Warhol: From A to B and Back Again | Whitney Museum
You’ll need more than 15 minutes to wander through the galleries of the Whitney now located in a breath-taking building downtown that’s flooded with natural light and offers some of the best art exhibitions in the world. Andy Warhol wasn’t just the quintessential New York creative for decades; he was a powerhouse in advertisement, graphic design, film, and popular culture. With this sprawling installation, you’ll get to experience his evolution from workaday illustrator on Madison Avenue to his Campbell Soup phase to his legendary status as the go-to silkscreen artist of the who’s-who of world celebrities and socialites.
God Made My Face | David Zwirner Gallery
This winter Pulitzer Prize-winning New Yorker writer Hilton Als curates a captivating exhibition in Chelsea titled “God Made My Face: A Collective Portrait of James Baldwin.” If you’ve read any of Als’ work you know that he’s a literary force, but take in his careful selection of art and photographs that paint Civil Rights leader and writer James Baldwin. Als shows Baldwin, not as just a ceaseless warrior for humanity and justice in the United States but presents Baldwin as a human. It’s been called a “collective portrait” with work by Marlene Dumas and Kara Walker.
Implicit Tensions: Mapplethorpe Now | Whitney
Part socialite, part provocateur, part art-world rockstar, David Mapplethorpe’s controversial photographs have been loved (and reviled) for over four decades. His starkly beautiful black-and-white pictures that depict the honesty of human desire are just one part of his work. The other, — perhaps more important — aspect to Mapplethorpe is how he inspired other artists. That stimulus is apparent in the Guggenheim’s look at his work where curators have taken some of his most provocative work and placed it alongside artists like Rotimi Fani-Kayode, Lyle Ashton Harris, Glenn Ligon, and Zanele Muholi to shine a light on his influence among fellow artists.
Jane Dickenson | James Fuentes Gallery
Although Times Square is now a family-friendly destination and one of the most photographed tourist spot on earth, it wasn’t always that way. In the ’70s and 80s what is now home to costumed characters and pedestrian-friendly streets was a much seedier place. And no one captured the “Bright Lights, Big City”-era glamour and tragedy than Jane Dickenson whose singular portraits and studies in human nature will take you back to a gritty yet intoxicating time in the city’s history.
Frida Kahlo: Appearances Can Be Deceiving | Brooklyn Museum
Long before the movie based on her life, Frida Kahlo, one of Mexico’s most revered artists, captured the hearts and the minds of the world. A life of hardship led Kahlo to take all of her pain and put it into her art, leading to Kahlo’s signature brush strokes and bold hues paired with her search for identity in a world she perhaps felt she isolated from. Experience this force of nature at the Brooklyn Museum by viewing some of her most important work accompanying side some of the most important objects from her life, including those iconic dresses.