Masters at Work

Mind-opening museum exhibits abound in NYC.

August is full of noteworthy museum exhibits, some more famous than others, but all with something special or unique to diversify the landscape that defines the New York City art scene. From a retrospective of an immensely successful and influential modern day artist, to a celebration of one of the city’s most accomplished curators, there are plenty of top exhibits to choose from on Museum Mile and beyond.

The Whitney Museum’s final exhibition before opening its new building in the Meatpacking District in 2015 is also the museum’s most comprehensive and expensive single-artist retrospective to date. The work of Jeff Koons, perhaps the most famous living artist around and unquestionably the most expensive living artist at auction, is on display. This is Koons’ first major museum exhibit in New York, containing 120 of his most recognizable works, including “Michael Jackson and Bubbles”, a 1988 life-sized white and gold porcelain sculpture of the (now deceased) musical icon reclining on a flower bed, his beloved chimpanzee situated on his lap. Last year, Koons’ adorable Balloon Dog (orange) sold for $58.4 million, breaking the global record for living artists. The dog may look familiar; as of last month, its likeness can be found on a new special-edition leather handbag from fashion retailer H&M. (Through 10/19, Madison Ave. at 75th St.)

At The Met, a wall drawing by Sol LeWitt – a founder and master practitioner of conceptual and minimalist art – has been installed in Gallery 399 over a period of four weeks by five drafters (time-lapse video available on The Met’s website). Originally crafted in 1982 and installed at the Illinois Institute of Technology, Wall Drawing #370 consists of ten geometric figures (including right triangle, cross, X, diamond) with three-inch parallel bands of lines in two directions. Rather than focus on the material existence of the artwork, LeWitt’s work tends to emphasize the creative idea that generates a work of art. In addition to his wall drawings, which number more than 1,200, LeWitt is also known for his drawing, printmaking, photography and painting. (Through 9/7/15, Fifth Ave. at 82nd St.)

At the Museum of Arts and Design (MAD), two milestones are being celebrated with the special exhibition “Re: Collection”: the fifth anniversary of the museum’s move to its current location at Columbus Circle, and the recognition of the recently retired David McFadden’s 16 years as chief curator emeritus. In a rare departure from the norm, Re: Collection is as much about the curator it’s recognizing as it is about the objects presented.  After all, the museum’s collection tripled during McFadden’s tenure, growing from 800 objects to more than 3,000. In the exhibit, approximately 70 works from diverse media including furniture, textiles, ceramics, sculpture, and jewelry are presented, drawing from the museum’s impressive permanent collection. Included among its many highlights is Terese Agnew’s Portrait of a Textile Worker (2005), which is made from tens of thousands of donated designer labels sewn together to call attention to the factory garment worker in Bangladesh. (Through 9/4, 2 Columbus Circle)