Masters of Art

The Big Apple shines with Picasso, Matisse, and vibrant local art.

New York City has some of the best museum exhibits in the world, and November is an exciting month for the city’s visitors and residents to experience them first hand. Whether standing in awe at the work of history’s most prolific creators, or admiring the creativity of generations of local artists, there is plenty to take in in Manhattan and Brooklyn.

Henry Matisse was a revolutionary and influential French artist known primarily as a painter, but who was also a draughtsman, printmaker, and sculptor whose use of color to express emotion was widely praised. His work is often compared to that of Pablo Picasso, both of who were giants of modern art as well as friends and rivals. In the later part of Matisse’s life, he turned increasingly to cutting paper with scissors into different shapes and sizes to create art, a process he described as ‘carving into color’. The undertaking introduced a radical new kind of work that came to be called the cut-out. Last month, The Museum of Modern Art launched the exhibit Henri Matisse: The Cut-Outs, the largest and most thorough presentation of Matisse’s cut-outs ever displayed. In addition to about 100 scissor cut-outs from Matisse’s final chapter of work, the exhibit features a monumental cut-out called “The Swimming Pool,” a room-sized work that depicts swimmers splashing through the water and leaping through the air. The last time the cut-outs were presented in-depth in NYC was over fifty years ago, so now may be your only chance to see some of these extraordinary works. (Through 2/8, 53rd St. btw Fifth and Sixth Aves.)

At The Metropolitan Museum of Art, one of the foremost collections of Cubism in the world is on display in Gallery 199: Cubism: The Leonard A. Lauder Collection. Created by Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque, Cubism is considered to be the most influential art movement of the early twentieth century. The term was coined after a French art critic saw landscapes that Braque painted in 1908 and referred to the geometric forms in the highly abstract works as “cubes.” It is a visual language that has had a profound influence on twentieth-century painting, sculpture and architecture. The Lauder Collection, which is a gift to The Met, consists of 80 paintings, collages, drawings and sculpture by the four preeminent Cubist artists: Georges Braque, Juan Gris, Fernand Léger, and Pablo Picasso. The collection is viewed by critics and scholars to be among the world’s greatest. (Through 2/16, Fifth Ave. at 82nd St.)

While NYC is undoubtedly a place where history’s master artists are on display, it is also a city where vibrant local art has an outlet. At the Brooklyn Museum, the exhibit Crossing Brooklyn presents more than one hundred works by thirty-five Brooklyn based artists who live or work in the area. Over the last twenty years, Brooklyn has increasingly been recognized as an energetic community of creative and influential artists. However, Brooklyn has had a role as a creative center for generations, and this exhibit demonstrates that. Offering work in virtually every medium, the exhibit explores themes of history and memory, place and geography, community, nostalgia, politics and beyond. Furthermore, and most interestingly, the exhibit expands beyond the grounds of the museum by presenting artwork off-site in the streets, waterways, and other public spaces of the borough. (Through 1/4, 200 Eastern Pkwy)