Telling Stories

Traditional, High-Tech, and Fantastical Visual

The museum shows highlighted this month illustrate three very different takes on the (literal) art of storytelling. Whether in the form of medieval Chinese scrolls or present-day video installations, visual artists have always found a way to present a narrative, even when—as in the case of Ian Cheng— they had no idea how it would end. Check out these fascinating accounts.

Works from the Korshak Collection at the Society of Illustrators
Lovers of fantasy art should be delighted by Works from the Korshak Collection at the Society of Illustrators’ Museum of Illustration. As a young man, Steve Korshak became fascinated with the illustrations that graced the tomes published by his father’s science fiction book company, Shasta. He has since amassed an assortment of fantastical art that spans some 100 years, from drawings that appeared in pulp magazines such as Amazing Stories and Weird Tales to plates from books by Robert Heinlein, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Edgar Allan Poe, H.G. Wells, and Lewis Carroll.

This exhibit features highlights of Korshak’s unique and far- ranging collection, including early works such as William R. Flint’s 1910 She Had Trod Many Sicilian Fields, which illustrated a poem by Matthew Arnold, and Virgil Finlay’s 1952 pen and ink drawing The Lovers, which accompanied a story by the same name, published in Startling Stories magazine. It’s a show that is sure to dazzle the eye and ignite the imagination. (Through 8/19, 128 E. 63rd St.) 


Ian Cheng: Emissaries at MoMA PS1
Emissaries at MoMA’s Queens outpost, PS1, is Ian Cheng’s first museum solo show in the U.S. Presented as an installation of 10-foot-tall projections, this trilogy of live simulation works was created using a video game engine; the results are mesmerizing, complex landscapes featuring computer-generated characters and wildlife that interact and recombine in ever-evolving mutations.

Because each work is “like a video game playing itself,” in the words of the artist, we never know exactly what will happen. For instance, the trilogy’s first work Emissary in the Squat of Gods (2015) is about a prehistoric girl responding to a volcano eruption, but her actions, along with those of the characters around her, is constantly changing. For a small- scale taste of Cheng’s work, check out twitch. tv/moma, where social video platform Twitch is live streaming Emissary Forks at Perfection from June 6 to July 24 and Emissary Sunsets the Self from August 8 to September 25. (Through 9/25, 22- 25 Jackson Ave., Long Island City)


Show and Tell: Stories in Chinese Painting at The Met
Show and Tell: Stories in Chinese Painting at The Metis a comprehensive exhibition highlighting the myriad ways that Chinese artists have told visual stories over the last thousand years. With more than 60 paintings and  prints dated from the 12th century to the present, the collection showcases various pictorial narratives that promote a political agenda, retell a beloved fictional tale, or document a historical incident.

The show is divided into three sections: the rst features the familiar long handscroll format, which illustrates a story in multiple scenes, such as Searching the Mountains for Demons, Zheng Zhong’s colorful 17th-century work depicting a demigod on the hunt for demonic creatures. The second section focuses on paintings of one iconic scene, such as Liang Kai’s 13th-century meditation Poet Strolling by a Marshy Bank. The third features landscapes and still lifes accompanied by narrative inscriptions. The show also includes works by contemporary artists addressing current issues and a gallery devoted to military narrative. (Through 8/6, 1000 Fifth Ave.)