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A Weekend of Art in New York

Ellen Levitt

Posted on May 31, 2021 00:59

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My family and I saw three well-publicized art exhibitions this weekend, featuring renowned artists.

Rainy days are made for visiting museums, strolling indoors and gazing at works of art. A moderately rainy day is also good for viewing large-scale outdoor works, especially if your ticket is non-refundable and you bought it nearly two months earlier.

Thus on Saturday afternoon we went to the Nassau County Museum of Art and took in two interesting art shows; "Andy Warhol: A Life in Pop" and "La Belle Epoque." The Warhol exhibition featured several of his prints, including a series of portraits of famous Jewish people (Golda Meir, Martin Buber, Franz Kafka and others) as well as a series of animal portraits, Campbell's Soup prints, and more. A series of four portraits of the late boxer Muhammed Ali was a high point of the collection, and I enjoyed seeing a signed album cover he designed for the Velvet Underground, one of my favorite rock 'n roll bands of the 1960s.

The Belle Epoque exhibition featured impressionist works and other movements; among the artists included were Toulouse-Lautrec, Bonnard, Degas, Tiffany (lamps, vases, a few window pieces), and several others. Most of the artists were European but the American cohort was largely represented by the delightful Tiffany pieces. The museum also included a handy and informative timeline in one small room. 

These two exhibitions were impressive but not overly large, suitable for this midsized museum, housed in a former mansion. The grounds are also nicely landscaped and include several notable sculptures and installations. 

On Sunday afternoon we braved the rain and visited the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx, to see the Yayoi Kusama exhibition "Cosmic Nature." I'm a big fan of her work, and have seen two of her gallery shows at the David Zwirner Gallery and her exhibition "Narcissus Garden" in the Rockaways in Queens. This Garden show was highly enjoyable and the theme of nature, gardens and flowers was an excellent fit for the expansive Botanical Garden.

Some of the installations were indoors; a hut with fancifully decorated pumpkins made into a mirrored infinity room; an interactive shed with bright flower stickers called "Flower Obsession" (guests could place their stickers anywhere in the shed); several pieces inside the Enid Haupt Conservatory and inside the Mertz Library. In addition, there were a few of Kusama's large sculptures placed around the grounds and several trees were wrapped in bunting of bright pink with white polka dots. A few of the pieces displayed made their debut here, and considering that Kusama is 92 years old, that's impressive. 

Her work is intriguing, often psychedelic and child-like, and there were pieces in the Library that dated to her youth. The pieces have an energy and although many feature simple patterns and repetition, they are so fun to look at (and to photograph).

It's also enjoyable to see art outdoors, and not just in a series of museum gallery rooms. In fact, Kusama's bright pieces made the rain less burdensome. 

Go experience some art, no matter the weather. 

Ellen Levitt

Posted on May 31, 2021 00:59

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