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Three to see: New York

From a slice of the 1970's to a new pairing of two abstract painters

by Victoria Stapley-Brown  |  23 February 2017
Three to see: New York
Pier Paolo Calzolari, Untitled (2014-15) (Photo: Matt Grubb; Courtesy of the artist and Marianne Boesky Gallery, New York. © Pier Paolo Calzolari)
See what the 1970s had to offer beyond bellbottoms with the exhibition Circa 1970 at the Studio Museum in Harlem (until 2 April). The show presents a varied and engaging group of works from its permanent collection made in the first full decade of its existence, at a time when African-American artists were finally starting to be recognised by major institutions. The show includes paintings (such Norman Lewis’s deep and rich Blue and Boogie from 1974), prints (like Romare Bearden’s work on paper, Prevalence of Ritual III from 1974), and sculptures (as with Barbara Chase-Riboud’s Le Manteau from 1973, an imposing work in bronze, hemp rope and copper). A piece of Harlem's cultural history is surveyed in a compelling series of photographs titled The Dance Theater of Harlem (1972) by Lord Snowdon, while a large self-portrait by Samuel Fosso features the Cameroonian photographer sporting… bellbottoms.

The Lévy Gorvy gallery’s inaugural show, Willem de Kooning/Zao Wou-ki (until 5 March), is the first time works by the two post-war abstract artists—who never met—have been shown together, with pieces from the 1940s through the 1980s. Their large and commanding paintings hang side-by-side on three floors of the gallery and are presented as in dialogue, although they are sometimes more striking in their differences. The bold, fleshy impasto strokes of many of de Kooning’s works, for instance, seem radically different from the way many of Zao’s pictures seem to explode in the middle in works like 24-12-59 (1959). There is one coincidence, however: two works from 1949, Zao’s Untitled and de Kooning’s Sail Cloth, have large, sandy-coloured fields broken up by linear drawings (Zao’s come from Chinese characters).

Surprises unfold in a solo exhibition of an original member of the 1960s Arte Povera movement, Pier Paolo Calzolari. His show, titled And I Say, is installed across Marianne Boesky’s two 24th Street galleries (until 25 March) and includes paintings, mixed media works and sculpture. The works can be dramatic, stormy and abstract, such as Untitled (Three felts) (2008-14), where three large canvases overlaid with dyed and burnt felt give the effect of swirling skies. Untitled #19 (2016), a peaceful pastel, is layered in sherbet colours and salt. Another untitled work, from 2014-15, includes floral motifs and petals spread across a group of poppy-coloured boards.

• Click here for a complete list of previously recommended New York shows

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