The Art of Spring

Warhol’s Books, Degas’s Prints and Pixar’s Process

Lou Romano, colorscript, "The Incredibles," 2004. Digital painting.

Lou Romano, colorscript, “The Incredibles,” 2004. Digital painting.

 Spring is finally here and there’s no better way to take refuge from those inevitable April showers than ducking into a museum and seeing some great shows. There are always fascinating things going on in NYC’s cultural institutions and this month is no exception. All three of our highlighted exhibitions are extraordinary: two collections of rarely seen works by top artists and a behind-the-scenes survey of what is probably Hollywood’s most inventive animation studio. Have fun!

Not many, apart from Andy Warhol’s most ardent followers, are aware of the role that books played in the artist’s career. Warhol by the Book, an exhibition at the Morgan Library & Museum, addresses that oversight with a fascinating collection of more than 130 objects, including nearly all of his book projects dating from early student days to his illustrious later career. As a graphic artist in the 1950s, Warhol designed book covers and commercial illustrations; he also collaborated with poets and writers on his own illustrated books, including the little-seen Love Is a Pink Cake, featuring love poems by Corkie (Ralph T. Ward). Among the photographs, self-published books, archival material and dust jacket designs on display are books that inspired Warhol, such as Les Fleurs Animées (1847) by the Parisian cartoonist J. J. Grandville. The exhibition, with its many collaborative pieces, shows how well Warhol worked with others, contrary to popular perception of the artist. (Through 5/15, 225 Madison Ave.)

Edgar Degas came to printmaking relatively late in his career, upon discovering the monotype process (ink drawing on a metal plate that is run through a press) in the mid-1870s. He took to it with such enthusiasm, it wound up completely revitalizing his paintings and other work. Edgar Degas: A Strange New Beauty, currently at MoMA, is a collection of around 120 rarely seen monotypes—many of them quite experimental for the time—the work of an artist pushing boundaries in both form and content. With unusual and risky subjects including dancers in motion, electric light and brothels, Degas often used monotypes as the basis for other artworks, including paintings, drawings and pastels, 50 of which will also be on view. The exhibition shows Degas at his loosest and most modern, an artist completely caught up in the promise and potential of a medium that was new and exciting to him. (Through 7/24, 11 W. 53rd St.)

Ever wonder how Pixar creates such imaginative and memorable animated films? The Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum’s exhibit Pixar: The Design of Story shows us exactly how the studio develops popular characters and creates emotional connection to its films in this in-depth exploration of the collaborative process behind such movies as Toy Story, Wall-E, Up, Brave, The Incredibles and Cars. Housed in the museum’s immersive Process Lab, the show not only includes original artwork such as rarely seen sketches, paintings and sculptures; but offers visitors of all ages the opportunity to get involved in the design process, using the tools of research, iteration and collaboration via interactive stations.  Also on view is Pixar’s groundbreaking 1986 short film Luxo Jr., in which the origins of the company’s distinctive process can be seen. (Through 8/7; 2 E. 91st St.)