Top 5 NYC Gallery Exhibitions Summer 2011


With so many galleries and openings scattered around New York City,  it's easy to feel overwhelmed.  Where to go?  Here are my top 5 picks for the summer.

Paul Branca: Untitled (left-overs), 2011, oil on canvas 13 x 36 inches

Tracey Emin, Gilbert & George and Juergen Teller at Lehmann Maupin, through Aug. 14. 
A lively, sexy show of recent works in which art stars seem to be having a ball together. To further heat up the summer, there's Jurgen Teller's self-portrait letting it all hang out on a beach, Gilbert & George's neat arrangements of some nasty personal ads they've clipped from newspapers and magazines, and the irrepressible Tracey Emin's sensuous and mesmerizing animated video, Those who suffer love.

Paul Branca at Scaramouche, through Aug. 12
At first this exhibition of a dozen recent paintings and 3D pieces by New York artist Paul Branca looks like a group show. In fact, the artist's wacky exploration of various painting genres-from geometric abstraction to jokey signage-is the point. The most unforgettable work here is Untitled (left-overs), a brilliantly compressed reiteration of Duchamp's last painting on canvas, Tu m'.

"The House Without the Door" at David Zwirner, through Aug. 5
I don't think anyone would argue with this show's premise, that one's home can often be a charged psychological space. The anxiety created by domesticity comes out in Mona Hatoum's creepily buzzing kitchen accoutrements and Charles LeDray's tiny rocking chair made of human bones, and is slightly tempered by Toba Khedoori's cozy fireplace painting and Francis Alÿs's disorientinly tiny canvases of bedroom interiors.

Ilit Azoulay at Andrea Meislin, through Aug. 12
For her first solo show in the U.S., Israeli photographer Ilit Azoulay hung two gigantic prints on opposite walls; the effect is of standing in a strange netherworld where tiny bits of collected ephemera (pebbles, scraps of plastic, coils of wire, etc.) are writ large. Azoulay's painstaking process-photographing each item individually, then digitally stitching hundreds of images together-creates clean, impeccable images that are hard to walk away from.

"La Carte d'Après Nature" at Matthew Marks, through Oct. 8
German artist Thomas Demand organized this ambitious group show, of work relating to the natural world, in a series of mazelike rooms constructed within the gallery (you'll definitely want to pick up a map and checklist from the front desk). Dozens of wonderful color photos by Luigi Ghirri are scattered throughout the exhibition; other highlights are Ger van Elk's silly film The Well-Shaven Cactus and Chris Garafolo's display case of plantlike porcelain sculptures.

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