From Renaissance sculpture to digital-age design, these museums have it covered.
Ah, April in New York! As the city shakes off the last of its winter chill and spring blossoms around us, it’s a great time to get inspired and energized by the ever-changing art and culture scene. Here are a few highlights to get you going…
In 2002, one of the worst things that can befall a museum happened at the Metropolitan Museum of Art: a rare 500-year old sculpture of Adam fell and shattered into hundreds of pieces. After 12 years of research and painstaking restoration, however, the perfectly proportioned, serene-faced statue is again on display. The exhibit Tullio Lombardo’s Adam: A Masterpiece Restored centers on the reconstructed life-size marble sculpture considered one of the most important artworks from Renaissance Venice to be found outside that city. Made by the great Venetian artist Lombardo in the early 1490s to decorate the tomb of Doge Andrea Vendramin, it is the only signed sculpture from that monument. The exhibit, which enables visitors to view the statue in the round, explains through video how a team of conservators, scientists, engineers and imaging experts conducted extensive research and gradually reassembled Adam using groundbreaking technology. This is also the inaugural exhibit of the Met’s new permanent gallery for Venetian and northern Italian sculpture. (Through 6/14, 1000 Fifth Ave. at 82nd St., Manhattan)
Opening this month at the Brooklyn Museum is Basquiat: The Unknown Notebooks, the first major exhibit of the notebooks of Brooklyn-born artist Jean-Michel Basquiat (who was a Junior Member of the museum in his youth). The show is centered around 160 rarely seen notebook pages, filled with the artist’s handwritten texts and sketches. The acclaimed (and prolific) Basquiat created 600 paintings and 1,500 drawings, in addition to sculptures and mixed-media pieces, before his death in 1988 at the age of 27. As he developed his unique artworks combining text and images, Basquiat amassed numerous notebooks full of poetry, wordplay, sketches, and personal observations on themes ranging from popular culture to race, class, and world history. These pages offer a fascinating glimpse into the evolution of a distinctive artistic sensibility and a remarkable individual. Thirty related paintings, drawings, and mixed-media works drawn from private collections and the artist’s estate are also on view. (4/3 through 8/23, 200 Eastern Parkway, Brooklyn)
An intriguing new exhibit housed in the Museum of Modern Art’s Architecture and Design Galleries explores the idea of design being truly democratic. This Is for Everyone: Design Experiments for the Common Good takes its title from the Twitter message from computer scientist Tim Berners-Lee (inventor of the World Wide Web) that lit up the stadium at the opening ceremonies for the 2012 Olympic Games in London. The dozens of objects on display range from simple everyday items like the iconic Kikkoman soy sauce bottle (designed by Kenji Ekuan) to an endlessly customizable 4-D printed dress (by Nervous System Studios). The accessibility of design in the digital age is represented by pieces such as Golan Levin’s very cool Universal Construction Kit, which includes 3-D printed adapters that make possible connectivity between 10 different popular toy kits, including Lego, Tinkertoys and Lincoln Logs. Whether we’re users or creators, the exhibit asks us to consider the myriad ways of connecting and sharing that is inherent in the design process. (Through 1/21/16, 11 W. 53rd St., Manhattan)