The best part of being in New York during the holidays is the chance to enjoy the hush that settles over the city as everyone else heads home. So take advantage and find some inspiration with these eight museum shows at some of the city’s best institutions.
“Artistic License: Six Takes on the Guggenheim Collection”
Through January 12, 2020
What would you do with access to the entirety of the Guggenheim’s vast and impressive collection, with all its major artworks at your fingertips? That’s exactly what “Artistic License” seeks to answer through the eyes of six artists-turned-curators: Jenny Holzer, Paul Chan, Julie Mehretu, Richard Prince, Cai Guo-Qiang, and Carrie Mae Weems. The show is a treasure box of delights.
The Guggenheim Museum is located at 1071 5th Avenue.
“Vija Celmins: To Fix the Image in Memory” at the Met Breuer
Through January 12, 2020
In the midst of holiday hustle and bustle, the New York presentation of 114 works by Vija Celmins is the perfect opportunity to engage in slow, contemplative looking. With a steady hand and laser-beam vision, Celmins redescribes life’s little of banalities—envelopes, space heaters, lamps—as well as sublime ocean waves, starry skies, and seashells, into revelatory sculptures and drawings.
The Met Breuer is located at 945 Madison Avenue.
“Vera Paints a Scarf: The Art and Design of Vera Neumann” at the Museum of Arts and Design
Through January 26, 2020
The artist and designer Vera Neumann is best known for her simple—perhaps even iconic—signature, written in jaunty script accompanied by a little ladybug. Over the course of her career, Vera built a more than $100 million empire through the sale of textiles, scarves, and tabletop pieces that brought color and pizzaz to consumers around the world. Both Grace Kelly and Marilyn Monroe were repeat customers, and First Lady Bess Truman used Vera fabric to upholster furniture in the White House.
The Museum of Arts and Design is located at 2 Columbus Circle.
In the first New York career retrospective for veteran photographer Duane Michals, the artist’s own work is juxtaposed with selections he made from the Morgan’s holdings. Michals is best known for his innovations within the medium, using multiple exposures and incorporating texts to create cinematic works that are humorous, insightful, and poetic.
The Morgan Library & Museum is located at 225 Madison Avenue.
“Agnes Denes: Absolutes and Intermediates” at The Shed
Through March 22, 2020
This sprawling exhibition of more than 150 artworks takes viewers through the arc of Hungarian artist Agnes Denes’s 50-year career. Denes is best known for transforming an abandoned landfill in downtown Manhattan into a thriving two-acre wheat field. Other herculean projects came later, including the construction of the first human-made forest in Finland, which was dedicated by the country’s president and set to be legally protected for 400 years. This retrospective, though long overdue, is perfectly timed to our moment.
The Shed is located at 545 West 30th Street.
“Surrounds” at the Museum of Modern Art
Through January 4, 2020
If you haven’t yet made it to the revamped MoMA 2.0, now is perhaps the best time, when the city has emptied out and you can soak up all of the art at your leisure. Start out on the top floor, and dive into the immersive artwork on display in “Surrounds,” a show featuring works by living artists made over the past two decades, representing pivotal points in each of their careers.
MoMA is located at 11 West 53rd Street.
“Power Mode: The Force of Fashion” at the FIT Museum
Through May 9, 2020
What makes a garment powerful? This show seeks answers through five sections, with each one devoted to different representations of power. From examples of military uniforms throughout the decades, to the idea behind the “power suit,” this show considers the many ways in which what we wear reveals points of view, political values, and how we power ourselves up to make it through the world.
The Museum at FIT is located at 227 West 27th Street.
“Making Knowing: Craft in Art, 1950–2019” at the Whitney Museum
Through January 2021
This is not your mother’s craft show. Works by more than 60 artists, including Mike Kelley, Simone Leigh, Ruth Asawa, and Howardena Pindell, help to redefine narrow conceptions of craft in this important show, which includes Liza Lou’s standout work, Kitchen. The work is the result of a five-year project to build a full-sized replica of a kitchen, complete with papier-mâché furniture, cereal boxes, and props. The result is as surreal as it is impressive.
The Whitney is located at 99 Gansevoort Street.
Where to stay: