City Culture

Museum Shows Explore Picasso Sculpture, Hemingway Memorabilia and the Human Face


As New York gears up for Thanksgiving and the holiday season, the city can be especially bustling. The cool-but-not-yet-cold weather is conducive to many fun activities, including shopping and sightseeing. Be sure to take a break from all that running around and unwind with some fabulous art and culture. Here are a few of this month’s top shows.

Currently inhabiting the entire fourth floor of the Museum of Modern Art, Picasso Sculpture is the first U.S. exhibit of its kind in almost half a century. This collection of more than 100 items focuses on the artist’s lesser-known, three-dimensional works. Formally trained as a painter, Picasso taught himself to sculpt, and his restless creativity is palpable in these varied pieces, ranging in size from a group of life-size Bathers to a small plaster apple. Included in the collection, which hails from various museums and private collections around the world, is MoMA’s own bronze-cast She-Goat, of which the artist once quipped, “She’s more like a goat than a real goat, don’t you think?” Like many of these works, She-Goat is made from a variety of materials, including wicker, terra cotta, tree branches, and copper wire. This must-see show is a definite highlight of the year at MoMA. (Through 2/7/16, 11 W. 53rd St. at 6th Ave.)

At one time, human facial expressions were thought to reveal aspects of one’s character and they were used very specifically in art. About Face: Human Expression on Paper is a collection of approximately 60 works taken from the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s own collections; dating from the 16th through 19th centuries, these drawings, prints and photographs depict the human face in various states of emotion, from blissful serenity to extreme agitation. In the 17th century, French artist Charles Le Brun created a scientific codification of facial expressions, which included detailed descriptions and drawings. Known as Expressions of the Passions, his theories shaped art theory and practice for two centuries. In the mid-19th century, French neurologist and physiologist Guillaume-Benjamin-Armand Duchenne de Boulogne and photographer Adrien Tournachon collaborated on a scientific catalogue of human emotions (30 images are included in the show). These two highly influential works are the basis of the exhibit, which includes pieces by Hans Hoffmann, Francisco Goya and Jean Baptiste Grueze, among others. It’s a fascinating exploration of a particular junction of art and science. (Through 12/13, 1000 Fifth Ave. at 82nd St.)

The Morgan Library & Museum is renowned for its excellent exhibits on acclaimed literary figures. Its current show Ernest Hemingway: Between Two Wars is the first major museum exhibit devoted to the author. This extensive collection focuses mainly on Hemingway’s life in Italy, Paris; Key West, Florida; Cuba; France and Germany between and during World Wars I and II. Luckily for us, Hemingway was a pack rat; in addition to drafts of early short stories, notebooks, and heavily revised manuscripts of novels including The Sun Also Rises, A Farewell to Arms, and For Whom the Bell Tolls, the exhibit includes personal items such as bullfighting stubs, World War II dog tags, and correspondence with contemporaries such as F. Scott Fitzgerald and Gertrude Stein, plus love letters to the mistress who would become Hemingway’s fourth wife. Most of the approximately 95 objects on display are from Boston’s John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, with the rest taken from the Morgan’s own collection. Anyone with even a passing interest in Hemingway will find this extremely interesting. (Through 1/31/16, 225 Madison Ave. at 36th St.)

(Photo Credit: MoMA)