Winter Art

From 16th-Century Verona to 21st-Century Brooklyn

What better way to start the New Year in New York than visiting some of the city’s top museums, all of which boast terrific shows of tantalizing art? For your consideration, we’ve highlighted three of the most intriguing exhibits in town, each amazing in its own right. Personally, we wouldn’t miss any of them.

Sixteenth-century Verona was a thriving city whose location in northern Italy made it particularly receptive to influences from northern Europe. As shown in the Metropolitan Museum of Art exhibit Girolamo dai Libri and Veronese Art of the Sixteenth Century, the region yielded many vibrant artworks, including those of Girolamo dai Libri, who specialized in altarpieces and illuminated manuscripts for the city’s many churches. Veronese art combined the classical style of nearby Padua with the luminous colors of Venetian painting, also incorporating the naturalistic elements favored by northern European artists. The focal point of this collection is Girolamo’s exquisite altarpiece Madonna and Child with Saints, one of the most beautiful and celebrated examples of Veronese painting. Created circa 1520 with oil and tempura on canvas, the piece features a gorgeously detailed peacock in a verdant laurel tree and a finely detailed background in addition to its serenely posed figures, clad in vividly hued clothing. Shown with the altarpiece are manuscripts and drawings by Girolamo and his Veronese contemporaries. (Through 2/7, 1000 Fifth Ave.)

The Museum of Modern Art owns what is arguably the most impressive Jackson Pollock collection in the world, now on glorious display in Jackson Pollock: A Collection Survey, 1934-1954. Though several of the artist’s paintings are on permanent view at MoMA, this exhibit of approximately 50 works includes pieces that are not regularly shown, in addition to rarely-seen engravings, lithographs, screenprints and drawings. The show tracks Pollock’s chronological development from early figurative images incorporating mythical themes to the pioneering abstract work he’s best known for, which involved dripping or splashing paint onto canvas and paper. Among the latter is One: Number 31, 1950, considered to be his greatest masterpiece (and one of his largest paintings), a highlight of this collection. The inclusion of the varied media he worked with emphasizes the wild creativity and experimentation that went into the evolution of his unique artistic process. (Through 3/13, 11 W. 53rd St.)

Over its 150-year existence, Coney Island has been many things to many people, from its origins as a playground for the wealthy to its long tenure as a major destination for the masses to its decline and recent revival. The Brooklyn Museum’s Coney Island: Visions of an American Dreamland, 1861–2008 is the first major exhibit employing visual arts as a medium to explore its long, colorful history. The show is comprised of approximately 140 diverse pieces, including early impressionist paintings by William Merritt Chase depicting “the people’s beach,” gritty photographs by luminaries such as Walker Evans, Diane Arbus and Weegee, modernist images by Joseph Stella, and contemporary works by Daze and Swoon. Also on display are evocative items such as carousel horses and sideshow ephemera. The show charts both the lure of Coney Island and the changing national mood over several decades, through the eyes of artists who were fascinated with the site. Further proof that there will never be another place like it. (Through 3/13, 200 Eastern Pkwy., Brooklyn)

(Photo Credit: A Congress of Curious Peoples / Marie Roberts)