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23 Art Exhibitions to View in N.Y.C. This Weekend

‘THE SENSES: DESIGN BEYOND VISION’ at the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum (through Oct. 28). There’s a serious, timely big idea at this exhibition: As social media, smartphones and virtual reality make us ever more “ocularcentric,” we have taken leave of our nonvisual senses — and need to get back in touch, literally. Thus “The Senses” features multisensory adventures such as a portable-speaker-size contraption that emits odors, with titles like “Surfside” and “Einstein,” in timed combinations; hand-painted scratch-and-sniff wallpaper (think Warhol’s patterned cows but with cherries — cherry-scented, naturally); and a device that projects ultrasonic waves to simulate the touch and feel of virtual objects. The show also presents commissions, videos, products and prototypes from more than 65 designers and teams, some of which address sensory disabilities like blindness and deafness, including Vibeat, which can be worn as a bracelet, brooch or necklace and translates music into vibrations. And if you bring the kids, they will likely bliss out stroking a wavy, fur-lined installation that makes music as you rub it. (Michael Kimmelman)
212-849-8400, cooperhewitt.org

‘THROUGH A DIFFERENT LENS: STANLEY KUBRICK PHOTOGRAPHS’ at the Museum of the City of New York (through Oct. 28). This exhibition of the great director’s photography is essentially Kubrick before he became Kubrick. Starting in 1945, when he was 17 and living in the Bronx, he worked as a photographer for Look magazine, and the topics he explored are chestnuts so old that they smell a little moldy: lovers embracing on a park bench as their neighbors gaze ostentatiously elsewhere, patients anxiously awaiting their doctor’s appointments, boxing hopefuls in the ring, celebrities at home, pampered dogs in the city. It probably helped that Kubrick was just a kid, so instead of inducing yawns, these magazine perennials struck him as novelties, and he in turn brought something fresh to them. Photographs that emphasize the mise-en-scène could be movie stills: a shouting circus executive who takes up the right side of the foreground while aerialists rehearse in the middle distance, a boy climbing to a roof with the city tenements surrounding him, a subway car filled with sleeping passengers. Looking at these pictures, you want to know what comes next. (Arthur Lubow)
212-534-1672, mcny.org

‘TOWARD A CONCRETE UTOPIA: ARCHITECTURE IN YUGOSLAVIA, 1948-1980’ at the Museum of Modern Art (through Jan. 13). This nimble, continuously surprising show tells one of the most underappreciated stories of postwar architecture: the rise of avant-garde government buildings, pie-in-the-sky apartment blocks, mod beachfront resorts and even whole new cities in the southeast corner of Europe. Tito’s Yugoslavia rejected both Stalinism and liberal democracy, and its neither-nor political position was reflected in architecture of stunning individuality, even as it embodied collective ambitions that Yugoslavs called the “social standard.” From Slovenia, where elegant office buildings drew on the tradition of Viennese modernism, to Kosovo, whose dome-topped national library appears as a Buckminster Fuller fever dream, these impassioned buildings defy all our Cold War-vintage stereotypes of Eastern Europe. Sure, in places the show dips too far into Socialist chic. But this show is exactly how MoMA should be thinking as it rethinks its old narratives for its new home next year. (Farago)
212-708-9400, moma.org

‘DAVID WOJNAROWICZ: HISTORY KEEPS ME AWAKE AT NIGHT’ at the Whitney Museum of American Art (through Sept. 30). This artist was there when we needed him politically 30-plus years ago. Now we need him again, and he’s back in this big, rich retrospective. Wojnarowicz (pronounced Voyna-ROH-vich), who died at 37 in 1992, was one of the most articulate art world voices raised against the corporate greed and government foot-dragging that contributed to the early AIDS crisis. But he was far from a one-issue artist. From the start, he took outsiderness itself, as defined by ethnicity, gender, economics and sexual preference, as his native turf. And from it he attacked all forms of exclusion through writing, performing and object making. In the show, we find him working at full force in all three disciplines, and the timing couldn’t be better. Not long before his AIDS-related death, during the culture wars era, he wrote, “I’m convinced I’m from another planet.” In 2018 America, he would have felt more than ever like a criminal migrant, an alien combatant. (Cotter)
212-570-3600, whitney.org

Last Chance

‘CANOVA’S GEORGE WASHINGTON’ at the Frick Collection (through Sept. 23). When Canova’s statue arrived in Raleigh, N.C., in 1821, the American press went wild for the likeness by the Italian neoclassical sculptor of the first president, wearing Roman military dress and drafting his farewell address. Ten years later it was destroyed by fire, but the Frick has brought the full-scale plaster model of the lost statue over from Italy for this smashing show that reveals how European artists were inspired by American revolutionary ideals. Canova’s Washington, looming all alone over the Frick’s circular gallery, wears thickly curled hair instead of the pulled-back style he sports on the dollar bill, and in both his costume (leather skirt, strappy sandals) and his bearing, he embodies the ideals of the new republic, where principles come before power. Supplementary materials include a life mask of Washington and several smaller Canova models, including a nude Washington with some rather nice pecs. (Farago)
212-288-0700, frick.org

‘HISTORY REFUSED TO DIE: HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE SOULS GROWN DEEP FOUNDATION GIFT’ at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (through Sept. 23). This inspired foundation is dispersing around 1,200 works by black self-taught artists from the American South to museums across the country. The Met’s exhibition of 29 of the 57 pieces it received proposes an exciting broadening of postwar art. It is dominated by the dialogue between the rough-hewed relief paintings of Thornton Dial and the geometrically, chromatically brilliant quilts of the Gee’s Bend collective. But much else chimes in, including works by Purvis Young, Joe Minter and Lonnie Holley. (Smith)
212-535-7710, metmuseum.org


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