* Akira Kurosawa centennial festival @ Film Forum / 209 W Houston St (1 to Houston, ACE/BDFV to W 4th St) - THRU FEB 4. OK film freaks, this is what you need to know about this absolutely dope Kurosawa full-career retrospective: each film (be it classics "Rashomon" or "The Seven Samurai" or kookies like "Kagemusha" or "Dreams") plays for one day only but w/ multiple screenings that day. So if you're like 'oh I can't make "Drunken Angel" tonight, I'll try for tomorrow', well, you're out of luck, partner. Visit the festival site for the full festival and showtimes, and I'll do my best to keep you apprised on Kurosawa's doper films (granted, there are many).
* "Stray Dog" (dir. Akira Kurosawa, 1949) screenings @ Film Forum / 209 W Houston St (1 to Houston, ACE/BDFV to W 4th St), 7/9:30p, through JAN 14. Kurosawa does the neo-noir hardboiled detective drama and he does it WELL. This is the exception to the festival rule, as "Stray Dog" has its own screen for over a week at Film Forum, and you'd be doing yourself a great favor in checking this out. Feat. Kurosawa stalwarts Toshiro Mifune (clean-cut and hangdog-ish) as the young detective and Takashi Shimura as the grizzled vet. Oh, and the femme fatales! My goodness.
* New York Jewish Film Festival @ Walter Reade Theatre / Lincoln Center @ 65th St (1 to 66th St) -THRU JAN 28. Co-sponsored by the Jewish Museum, these two dozen films feat. an international landscape and directorship, and nearly all these are stateside premieres. Check the festival site for the full lineup and ticket info (you know these Lincoln Center films tend to sell out quickly), plus a few I've got my eye on:
- "Eyes Wide Open/Eynayim Pekuhot" (dir. Haim Tabakman, Israel, 2009), an intriguing romance set in an ultra-orthodox neighborhood
- "Ajami" (dir. Scandar Copti & Yaron Shani, Israel/Germany, 2008), a tightly wound drama told from Israeli & Palestinian POVs
- "Within the Whirlwind" (dir. Marleen Gorris, Germany/Poland/Belgium, 2009), based on Jewish poet/professor Evgenia Ginzburg's memoirs in Stalinist Russia
* David Reed "Works on Paper" @ Peter Blum Soho / 99 Wooster St. I was enamored by Reed's softly futuristic vertical and subway-bomber-style horizontal abstract paintings at Max Protetch Gallery in '07. This time, Peter Blum investigates Reed's work process via color studies and works on paper, a rewarding look at this unique abstract artist.
* "Look Again" Group show @ Marlborough Chelsea / 545 W 25th St. The angle here is this nearly 2 doz. strong show (feat. gallery artists + special, subversive guests like Vik Muniz and Arman) is 'trompe l'oeil', but like any group show worth its weight, this one should have us second-guessing ourselves, both to the nature of representation and when unlikely subjects 'become' art.
* Roy Dowell @ Lennon, Weinberg Inc / 514 W 25th St. New small scale collages, which Dowell pairs w/ acrylic paint to colorful, almost Dadaist, effect.
* Christian Hellmich "The Array/Transfer-Domino" @ Lehmann Maupin / 540 W 26th St. Hellmich's big mechanical paintings still have both feet planted firmly in architecture, but you won't find recognizable escalators or foyers this time. He's turned the lot inside out (and sometimes inward again, twisted up like falling down the rabbit hole), creating an abstract hybrid that falls somewhere between the Futurists and Thomas Scheibitz. He's got my attention!
* Elisa Sighicelli "The Party is Over" @ Gagosian / 980 Madison Ave. Sighicelli's mastery of light, in her large C-prints (here, imageless billboards and scaffoldings mostly), which are all taken at night, if that wasn't clear, is hypnotic and otherworldly. One video work, same name as the exhibition, accompanies and features nighttime fireworks in reverse. Bring your drug of choice!
* Koo Jeong-A "A-Z" @ Yvon Lambert / 550 W 21st St. Best way I can describe this Korean-born, Paris-based artist's mixed media installations, which include her watercolors and loads of found objects (and sometimes video) are 'interventions'. She hasn't shown much at the NY Yvon Lambert Gallery, so this solo show should be a mind-widening treat.
* Richard Misrach @ Pacewildenstein / 534 W 25th St. Huge pigment prints from the pioneering photographer's recent 'Untitled' series, all created using 'positive capture', which is like a negative but from a powerful digital camera...I think. The source material is landscapes, but think more like David Hockney's fun-with-colors scheme than anything remotely of this world.
* Dan Perjovschi "Postcards from the World" @ Lombard-Freid Projects / 531 W 26th St. Last time, the Bucharest-based artist whose cartoony style packs a wallop, converted the gallery into a huge chalkboard. This exhibition, he inundates the space w/ 500+ postcard-sized drawings of his international travels and observations.
* "The Rise and Fall of Excess Culture" Group Show @ STUX Gallery / 530 W 25th St. Lots of group shows this season! Hmm, sounds like a blog topic in the works... this one, curated by Jovana Stokic, focuses on the current economic climate and capitalism and feat. some of the gallery's more 'challenging' artists (Shimon Okshteyn, Aaron Johnson, Patricia Iglesias) + video artist Zhou Tao and the incredibly surreal figurative painter Hillary Harkness.
* Sarah Lipstate (Noveller) + Kyle Bobby Dunn & Richard Lainhart @ ISSUE Project Room / 232 3rd St, Gowanus (F/M/R to 9th St/4th Ave), 8:30p/$15. An eclectic evening of soundscapes and creative video work, courtesy of ISSUE's typically stellar programming. The draw for me is Lipstate's guitar-drone work, which I hope (as the venue bills this under her full name) accompanies one of her experimental short films.
* Grant Hart @ Cake Shop / 152 Ludlow St (FV to 2nd Ave), 8p/$10. I still cannot fathom this. Hart, legendary drummer/vocalist/songwriter of legendary '80s punk band Husker Du playing Cake Shop, where you could like stand stage-side and touch him, nearly, if you wanted to. Game plan, if you're in the area: attend this show (catch Brooklyn's Sisters 1st), stay for Hart, then head north to Pianos just in time for Teengirl Fantasy's deviant-house set.
* Teengirl Fantasy @ Pianos / 158 Ludlow St (FV to 2nd Ave), 8p/$8. Brooklyn's fractured-house duo Teengirl Fantasy are back in town — did you catch them in Williamsburg last week, like I recommended? You've another chance tonight, but they go on late so keep that in mind.
* "Speed & Chaos" Group Show @ Bryce Wolkowitz Gallery / 505 W 24th St. Into the future of Asian art, so the press release reads. Seven internationally based contemporary artists from China, Taiwan and Korea take on the subject of representation and the global Asian experience in the 21st century. This theme may sound familiar (see Gana NY's Korean-driven show), but featured heavyweights Wang Qinsong and Noh Sang-Kyoon should anchor this show.
* Jack Tworkov "True and False" @ Mitchell-Innes & Nash / 528 W 26th St. A tasting of paintings from the influential Abstract Expressionist's career, incl. works from the 'Variables' (multiple compositions on one huge canvas) and his near-monochromes.
* Hannes Bend "endlich" @ Half Gallery / 208 Forsyth St. The 1st US solo exhibition from the color-hungry Berlin-based artist, including his iconic sculptural reproductions, cast out of, uh, candy...and Bauhaus-ready color studies.
* Carl Johan de Geer "Long Live the Large Family" signing @ Dashwood Books / 33 Bond St (6 to Bleecker, BDFV to Broadway/Lafayette), 6-8p. Meet the Swedish Underground Leica-wielder in the flesh, in support of his new compendium of grid-composed, lush b&w photography.
* Cinema Fury/Big Art Group @ New Museum / 235 Bowery (FV to 2nd Ave), 7p/$12. Nick Hallett organized this wildly immersive 60-min action-media performance by Caden Manson's Big Art Group that explores information corruption and digital transmission, contains a fair bit of transmogrification (of the digital and folkloric hue), a hybridization of theatre and film, and culls audience interaction.
* "Hausu" (dir. Nobuhiko Obayashi, 1977) screenings @ IFC Center / 323 Sixth Ave (ACE/BDFV to W 4th St). I am so glad IFC Center installed two additional screens, so they can provide such luxe silver screen gems as this heady, Technicolor-fueled, schoolgirl-cast psychedelic freakout. Like Dario Argento through the mind of a preteen girl, super-cute yet incredibly disturbing.
* "Pripyat" (dir. Nikolaus Geyrhalter, 1999) screening @ Anthology Film Archives / 32 Second Ave (FV to 2nd Ave), 7p. A doc on the people who still live and work 'in the zone', i.e. the restricted area around Chernobyl. For real. (ALSO MON 9p)
* "7915 km" (dir. NIkolaus Geyrhalter, 2008) screening @ Anthology Film Archives, 9:15p. Dig it: the Austrian director's new film follows the Dakar Rally 2007 and the multitudinous cultural landscape of NW and W Africa. Familiar w/ Dave Eggers' "You Shall Know Our Velocity!"? (ALSO SUN 3:45p)
* The Yummy Fur + Bishop Allen + German Measles + McDonalds w/ DJs Peggy Wang/Shirley Braha @ Market Hotel, 1142 Myrtle @ Broadway, Bushwick (JM to Myrtle), 8:30p/$12. A very special night way out in furthest Greenpoint. Allow me to break it down for you: legendary Scots The Yummy Fur (aka John McKeown and crew) last played their indie rock chords 10 years ago. And they've never played stateside. That changes tonight, as they reunite for a very brief, inaugural US tour. They are supported by Brooklyn stalwart smart-indies Bishop Allen and party rockers German Measles and McDonalds...oh and if saw my lengthy explanation above, Peggy from the Pains of Being Pure at Heart is on deck. Magical.
* Led Er Est + Noveller @ Monster Island Basement / 128 River St, Williamsburg (L to Bedford), 8p/$7. Ahhh this is going to be good! Led Er Est do a sort of Joy Division meets Cure thing, which is dope, but you'll have to wait on that when Sarah Lipstate (aka Noveller) brings the heat via her double-necked guitar — all ethereal drones and furious noise permitted.
* Real Estate + The Beets + Beach Fossils + Total Slacker @ St James Church / 64 James St (JM to Chambers St, F to East Broadway), 8p/$10. Less Artists More Condos, those fab DIY promoters, host a who's-who of NY-area indie rock inside a Roman Catholic Church. Did you catch all that?
* Philip Taaffe "Works on Paper" @ Gagosian / 555 W 24th St. Seems Gagosian is out to mess w/ our heads, like psychedelically, what w/ Elisa Sighicelli's glowing show uptown and now Taafe's large Mandala-based works. What, you say they look like a bit like massively enlarged LSD blotter paper? Why, whatever do you mean?
* Aa w/ Dinowalrus (record release party) + Graffiti Monsters @ Cake Shop / 152 Ludlow St (FV to 2nd Ave), 8p/$7. Way too much fun tonight. If Graffiti Monsters (who rock a Gameboy much as one can rock one of those things) and psych-rockers Dinowalrus (record release party) weren't enough, the trundling percussive army Aa will LEVEL Cake Shop's basement, I promise you. Heavy stuff.
* Beach Fossils + Alex Bleeker and the Freaks @ Monster Island Basement / 128 River St, Williamsburg (L to Bedford, JM to Marcy), 8p/$7. So when I write 'way too much fun tonight' (above), this is what I mean. Chocolate Bobka hosts an incredible lineup of surf/folk-friendly Underwater Peoples artists, incl. Alex Bleeker and his freaks and the always charming Beach Fossils. I cannot wait!
* "The Hidden Fortress" (dir. Akira Kurosawa, 1958) screenings @ Film Forum / 209 W Houston St (1 to Houston, ACE/BDFV to W 4th St), 6:20/9p. All "Star Wars" buffs should know the plot already: countrywide clan wars (evil empire v. the Jedi), a swashbuckling Toshiro Mifune (I guess Han Solo?) and tough-as-nails Misa Uehara (Princess Leia), w/ constant comedic effect from the two bickering farmers (uh, the droids) lassoed into Mifune's servitude. One of my favorite Kurosawa classics.
* "Chateau du Chic" @ Monkeytown / 58 N 3rd St, Williamsburg (L to Bedford), 8p/$5 (reservations recommended!). Legendary Wiilliamsburg multimedia rec-room Monkeytown is closing on JAN 24. This is one of the hardest things I have ever wrote. It is very sad, but the programming up until that fateful night is spot-on ace. This night in particular, a multimedia cabaret MCed by faux Britpop personality Nicklcat (aka performer de résistance Nick Hallett) and feat. Katie Eastburn (chanteuse), Shana Moulton (A/V) and some warm surprises.
* Woods (playing "Woods Family Creeps" improv) @ Monkeytown / 58 N 3rd St, Williamsburg (L to Bedford), 8p/10:30p/$10 (reservations recommended!). See my rant above regarding Monkeytown's imminent closing. Woods are perhaps Brooklyn's finest psych-folk-rockers — or at least the weirdest yet most immediately huggable — and they return to their trippy, improv roots on this freeform, two-show jam session.
* Ecstatic Sunshine + McDonalds @ Cake Shop / 152 Ludlow St (FV to 2nd Ave), 8p/$7. I can get into Baltimore's ambient psych-rockers Ecstatic Sunshine, but the real draw tonight is McDonalds aka the entire caUSE co-MOTION!
* "Primary Atmospheres" California Minimalism 1960-1970 @ David Zwirner / 525-533 W 19th St. An essential addition to the W.Chelsea scene, this warm-vibes group may make you forget how cold it actually is outside. We get two flavors, the seductively emotive light-installations from James Turrell and spare visually trickery from Robert Irwin in the 525 space, and a solid two-room offering of gorgeous clear-based (acrylic, resin, glass) sculptural wedges and cubes at 533. If beautiful subtlety is your thing, this is your candy store.
* Joseph Beuys "We are the Revolution" @ Mary Boone Gallery / 541 W 24th St. Independent curator and art historian Dr. Pamela Kort culled together this fascinating, museum-quality showcase of Beuys' multiples (famous pieces 'Sled', 'Capri Battery', 'Telephone', 'Felt Suit', plus loads others) and media and literary materials in a flotilla of vitrine cases, plus a few chalkboards from 'Action Third Way' for good measure. A brilliant, intellectually-packed exhibition, highly recommended.
* Jeffrey Vallance "Relics & Reliquaries" @ Tanya Bonakdar Gallery / 521 W 21st St. Trace a path through Vallance's precious tabernacles (feat. objet from his time in the Tonga islands to detritus from his impressionable teen years), reading each supplied text (they're good, trust me), and you'll feel like you really know the artist. Religious imagery infused w/ familiar suburban banality; if you grew up stateside, chances are you either 1) know a Vallance or 2) share some of these experiences.
+ "Strange Travelers" Group Show, curated by Mark Dion, plus Dion's "Travels of William Bartram – Reconsidered". This cheeky travelogue to the 18th C. American naturalist is Dion at his methodical finest, and he pulls it off very well (from a case of Dion's hand-drawn and painted flora/fauna postcards from Bartram's garden to a ridiculously extensive glass cabinet of all kinds of tchotchke alligators, incl. the naturalist's own reptilian reproduction). His curated show of international travel-minded artists is interesting. James Prosek's Audobon-style paintings of birds are more straightforward than Walton Ford's (the only other contemporary artist I can think of who does this, besides Dion maybe), but he takes it a step further w/ hybrid 'tool birds', both taxidermy and brush. Sanna Kannisto contributes lush C-prints from her work in S. American rainforests, and David Brook styles a belt-lashed collection of hewn telephone poles that carries a disarming echo of felled forest trees.
* Patti Smith w/ Steven Sebring "Objects of Life" @ Robert Miller Gallery / 524 W 26th St. This crowded exhibition follows the creative process b/w musician/artist Smith (who can do no wrong, IMO) and photographer/filmmaker Sebring, and it often blurs the line b/w which work is accredited to Smith or Sebring (or both, at times). The distinction is obvious in the weaker moments, like Sebring's light-box blowups of Smith's source materials (boots, camera, scarf etc), which strike a vividly atonal tone w/ the rest of the gloomily seductive offering. Better are Smith's b&w photography and her collaboration w/ Sebring, a small series of albumen prints that somehow resemble both darkroom manipulation and graffiti.
* Diane Arbus "In the Absence of Others" + Williams Eggleston "21st Century" @ Cheim & Read / 547 W 25th St. When you pair another photographer w/ Arbus, you've got to bring the heat. And Eggleston's new, textural prints, don't exactly bring it, but they've got their moments. A car wash windshield could be both an undersea view or a color-manipulated deep-space nebula, another spare car window includes a stick-on Santa Claus in an otherwise spare view, and a gorgeous nighttime view in New Jersey is masterful. However, Eggleston's portion of the show could use an edit, as it doesn't carry the concentrated energy of Arbus' dozen-plus b&w prints of NYC's empty hotel lobbies, cinemas and landscapes. There is a palpable closeness to each of these, as if the presence of people just off the frame's edge.
* Keith Sonnier "Oldowan Series" @ Mary Boone Gallery / 745 5th Ave. The source inspiration for Sonnier's new collection of bent neon tubing sculpture are Paleolithic tools! But these pieces bear a graceful, balletic lightness belying the weight and relative crudeness of their particular inspiration. In fact, these pleasing tangles of colorful O's and curves look a bit like figurative sketches of the human form, but done Sonnier's way.
* "On the Square" @ Pacewildenstein / 32 E 57th St. The gallery pulls from its roster of minimalists and geometric heavyweights for a group show based around that deceptively simple four-cornered shape. Josef Albers, Ad Reinhardt and Agnes Martin provide the sturdy, scholarly framework for exploration and invention, whether the spare (Sol LeWitt, Robert Mangold), the playful (Keith Tyson, Joel Shapiro), or the wildly dangerous (Tara Donovan's contribution is a just-held-together cube of pins, some of which have already sought more interesting territories by scattering about the nearby perimeter).
* Pascal Grandmaison "The Inverted Ghost" @ Jack Shainman Gallery / 513 W 20th St. The show's namesake comes from a series of large color inkjet diptychs of oily smears, like scarred featureless masks. The Canadian artist accompanies these with two films, incl. the recent "Light My Fiction", which marries decrepit Coney Island amusement parks w/ decades-old video game consoles.
* Andy Warhol "Still Lifes and Feet" @ Paul Kasmin Gallery / 293 10th Ave. It's nice this show of Warhol's very early pen drawings (1956-1961) debuted w/ Louis Menard's article in last week's New Yorker. It's not got the immediacy of his hypercolor silkscreened portraits, but these intimate drawings of the titular namesake, (mostly male) human feet and a texture or adornment, showcase Warhol's simple, confident pen-lines. And if you've got even the remotest fetish for this kind of thing: beware; one in particular, he masterfully captures the turned-up sole of a bare foot against a huge whelk-like seashell.
* Marlo Pascual @ Casey Kaplan Gallery / 525 W 21st St. Pascual's first solo show at the gallery feat. her masterful pairing of disparate objects: vaguely familiar silver screen starlets (via b&w prints, greatly enlarged and usually theatrically cropped) and heavy physical objects (rocks, potted plants), her 'props'. She takes this concept even further by staging vignette-like installations in the main gallery, including planks, lighting and chairs to complement her manipulated vintage prints.
* Anne Lindberg + Johnny Swing @ Cynthia Reeves Gallery / 535 W 24th St 2nd Fl. Swing's massive rusty steel twists act as an earthy anchor for the real showcase here, which are Lindberg's fascinatingly laborious graphite-on-cotton works. Her control of the pencil lines cause 3D shadows to float and flutter from the surface, like you could breathe on the canvas to produce the same effect.
* Works on Paper group show @ Danese / 535 W 24th St. MoMA's long-running "Compass in Hand" contemporary drawings show just closed, and if you are just aching for more of that, but w/ a bunch of artists who weren't included in that show (Su-en Wong, Bill Jensen, John Chamberlain, Valerie Giles, Richard Serra) + those who were (Warren Isensee, Barry Le Va), take a moment to peruse this very extensive show of mostly new works.
* Kirsten Nelson "Assembly Required" @ Frederieke Taylor Gallery / 535 W 22nd St 6th Fl. I dig Nelson's stark sculptural installation, composed of materials you could quite easily find @ Home Depot (sheetrock, plywood, drywall etc)...though the effect is way less than perusing a hardware store than it is noticing the details of the compositions, wallpaper-like patterns tucked just beyond the apparent field of vision.
+ dNASAb "dataclysmic", in the project room. The title and concept, wild video sculptures utilizing phosphorescent silicone and consumer electronics, might sound a little too easy, eye-candy-ish, but they are mad gorgeous up close.
* Peter Peri @ Bortolami / 510 W 25th St. This London artist's reductive mixed media paintings, gloomy canvases marred by either razor-sharp linework or the occasional tonal explosion, creep me out in a really good way. It's sort of like taking Tomma Abts style, enlarging it, then painting over it. He mates these w/ some absurdly deft linework on simple geometric shapes and a mirror image of Jean Auguste Dominique's famous 'Odalisque'.
* William Daniels @ Luhring Augustine / 531 W 24th St. Perhaps the contemporary master of the niche-like small scale renderings of Old Masters via found-objet, Daniels turns to abstract foil surfaces for his source material whilst keeping the lushly painted canvases tiny. There are only ten pieces here, so take your time discerning each, the color choice (the Orange Crush-flavored one in the back is a favorite) and the diffusion of light. Delicious.
* Hélio Oiticica "Drawings, 1954-58" @ Galerie Lelong / 528 W 26th St. Rare works from the Brazilian artist and member of Grupo Frente, the mid-'50s avant-garde collective. Do the math: Oiticica produced nearly all these either geometrically-sparse or discreetly colored gouaches when he was a teenager. Like Aphex Twin doing Jean (Hans) Arp.
LAST CHANCE (closing this weekend)
* Yue Minjun "Smile-isms" @ Arario NY / 521 W 25th St. Yue's guffawing, grimacing 'self'-portraits are a bunch of active men, throwing baseballs, climbing trees, sitting crosslegged on a diving board like a bunch of demure bathing beauties... What's the dialogue? Well, in these gorgeous color lithographs, maybe Yue means, in order to do these activities properly, the State wants you to enjoy the hell out of them. Be happy all the time! Check the gigantic Yue, yawning mouth stretching over a field of cattle, for a more literal impact.
* Peter Fischli + David Weiss "Sun, Moon and Stars" @ Matthew Marks Gallery / 522 W 22nd St. This symphony of advertisements under glass looks incredibly annoying and asinine from the doorway, but I strongly encourage you to venture in and walk the array, skimming over the chromatic and thematic groupings. By like halfway in I began to find the transitions (and even the subject of these ads) terribly hilarious.
* Peter Fischli + David Weiss "Sleeping Puppets" @ Matthew Marks Gallery / 526 W 22nd St. Fischli and Weiss have the run of Marks' three W Chelsea galleries, and I love this one the best. In the spare boutique-y space, they've installed a like 1/3 scale version of their avatars Rat and Bear, fast asleep on a pile of blankets. Observe closely their addicting repose: a hidden air apparatus subtly inflates each puppet's chest to echo their 'breathing'. Delightful.
* Peter Fischli + David Weiss "Clay and Rubber" @ Matthew Marks Gallery / 523 W 24th St. A delicious assortment of the artists' bare clay or cast-rubber sculpture, mostly of banal objects (a cup, a pipe, a tree-root), from the past two decades. I especially dug the rubber stuff, incl. this incredible life-size 'leather' ottoman, w/ every stitch and dimple in place.