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Three to see: New York

Get in touch with the Ancient Greeks and some Modern classicists

by Victoria Stapley-Brown  |  27 April 2017
Three to see: New York
Installation view of Alex Katz: Subway Drawings at Timothy Taylor gallery. (Courtesy Timothy Taylor gallery)
Alex Katz: Subway Drawings (until 30 June) at Timothy Taylor gallery is the first exhibition of sketches Katz made on the New York subway and elsewhere around the city while a student at the Cooper Union from 1946-49—“a desperate idea to learn how to draw quickly so I didn’t get thrown out of art school,” Katz says. “I drew around the clock.” The show traces the evolution of his drawings (the “foundation of my craft”) through pages torn from notebooks. It is worth two sweeps around the gallery—where the works are hung at mid-wall level—to catch details and spot long-gone fashion accessories like ladies’ hats and gloves. (Katz says clothing factored in his decision to draw his subjects, but adds: "you just do what’s in front of you.”) New Yorkers will even spot familiar characters from their daily commutes, including that guy in the suit reading the newspaper leaning on the subway pole.

Early works also feature in Lygia Clark: Modulated Space, a solo exhibition opening 29 April at Luhring Augustine (until 17 June). The show presents drawings, paintings and sculptures made between the 1950s—the decade when Clark co-founded Brazil’s Neo-Concrete movement—and the 1960s (before she declared she had “abandoned art” in 1966). The two-dimensional works show her playing with form, plane, line and perspective, which set the stage for her Bichos (Critters, 1960): sculptures with hinged metal planes meant to be moved by viewers-turned-participants. Though Clark saw these as incomplete without audience participation, the Bichos are too fragile to be touched today, and take on another form in this show: static sculptures.

Get a new view of the ancient Greeks and get in touch with your feelings in the process in the exhibition A World of Emotions: Ancient Greece, 700 BC-200 AD (until 24 June) at the Onassis Cultural Center New York. “I think most people are going to feel that the objects they see also address questions, problems and phenomena that are universal,” the show’s curator, Angelos Chaniotis, says of the display of around 130 items from antiquity, including life-sized statues, pottery, coins and funerary art. Chaniotis points to a touching grave inscription for a young woman who died in childbirth, written by her parents. Also look out for a more bizarre memorial: a small funeral stele from the second to third century BC for a “loveable hog” who died in a traffic accident. Similarly odd are amulets that depict genitals, such as a one depicting a vulva that served as a votive offering to Aphrodite, the goddess of love, beauty, fertility and pleasure.

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