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Spring 2014 Museum Guide

8 Essential Museum Exhibits for Spring 2014

From Audubon to Andy Warhol, ancient relics to modern street art, New York City's museums are pulling out all the stops to celebrate the return of spring

Even though it’s cold outside, the spring museum season is already heating up. It kicks off with the always innovative Whitney Biennial, made even more of a must-see this year with the museum’s impending move downtown. Fans of Paul Gauguin’s Impressionist works will enjoy seeing his prints and studies at the Guggenheim, while Warhol fans should head to the Queens Museum, reopened in fall 2013, to see the pop artist’s only public art piece. And, finally, in May comes the reopening of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s celebrated Costume Institute (which will be now be known as the Anna Wintour Costume Center) with an exhibit of classic gowns by couturier Charles James. Here are the eight exhibits not to miss this spring.

 

Scene 3 Version B 2, by Dashiell Manley 2013 (Photo: Jeff Mclane. Image courtesy of the Artist, Redling Fine Art, and Jessica Silverman Gallery)

‘Scene 3 Version B 2,’ a 2013 work by Dashiell Manley, will be part of the Whitney Biennial (Photo: Jeff Mclane. Image courtesy of the Artist, Redling Fine Art, and Jessica Silverman Gallery)

2014 Whitney Biennial
Whitney Museum of American Art, March 7-May 25, 2014
A must for any fan of cutting-edge contemporary art, the 2014 Whitney Biennial is a showcase for innovation. This year’s Biennial is organized by three curators from outside the museum, Stuart Comer, Anthony Elms and Michelle Grabner. Each has been given their own exhibition floor with which to work their creative magic. More than 100 artists are featured across a wide variety of disciplines including paintings, sculpture, film, photography, dance and music. Note: This marks the last Biennial in the current building on Madison Avenue before the museum moves downtown. 945 Madison Ave., whitney.org

 

'Mata mua (In Olden Times)' by Paul Gauguin, 1892. (Photo: Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza / Scala / Art Resource, NY)

‘Mata mua (In Olden Times)’ by Paul Gauguin, 1892. (Photo: Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza / Scala / Art Resource, NY)

Gauguin: Metamorphoses
Museum of Modern Art, March 8-June 8, 2014
A giant of the modernist movement, Paul Gauguin is best known for his vibrant and mysterious paintings of the South Pacific, where he spent most of the last 12 years of his life. It may surprise some that he was also a prodigious creator of works on paper. Gauguin: Metamorphoses pays homage to artist’s trove of prints and transfer drawings with more than 160 works on display at MoMA. Organized chronologically, the exhibition features masterworks in a range of mediums from woodcuts relating to famous paintings such as In Olden Times to exquisite watercolor monotypes and nuanced drawings. 11 W 53rd St., get tickets

 

Great Blue Heron by John James Audubon, 1821, 1834 (Photo: © The New York Historical Society); 'Lathe V Chair, 2008' by Sebastian Brajkovic (Photo: Courtesy of the Carpenters Workshop Gallery, London)

‘Great Blue Heron’ by John James Audubon, 1821, 1834 (Photo: © The New York Historical Society); ‘Lathe V Chair, 2008′ by Sebastian Brajkovic (Photo: Courtesy of the Carpenters Workshop Gallery, London)

Audubon’s Aviary: Parts Unknown (Part II of The Complete Flock)
New-York Historical Society, March 21-May 26, 2014
Just in time to embrace the warmth of spring, the New-York Historical Society showcases its collection of beloved John James Audubon’s watercolors in Audubon’s Aviary. John James Audubon was an artist, naturalist and namesake of the National Audubon Society. All 435 watercolor models for his now legendary book, The Birds of America (1827-38) are held by the NYHS. The second of three exhibitions, Parts Unknown explores the evolution of the watercolors as they were engraved and new territories charted by Audubon. Featured watercolors include a variety of water birds such as the great blue heron and the whooping crane. 170 Central Park West, get tickets

Re: Collection
Museum of Arts and Design, April 1-September 7, 2014
The Museum of Arts and Design (MAD) is celebrating its five years at Columbus Circle in grand style. Re: Collection is an ambitious presentation of selected pieces by key postwar American and international artists, including Dutch artist Sebastian Brajkovic (see his Lathe V Chair, 2008 above). A selection of 68 masterworks in sculpture, jewelry, ceramics, furniture and textiles have been chosen from the permanent collection which has grown from 800 objects to more than 3,000 under the tenure of chief curator emeritus David McFadden. 2 Columbus Circle, madmuseum.org

 

Artist Swoon in her Red Hook, Brooklyn studio (Photo: © Bryan Welch)

Artist Swoon in her Red Hook, Brooklyn studio (Photo: © Bryan Welch)

Swoon: Submerged Motherlands
Brooklyn Museum, April 11-August 24, 2014
Get ready to be transformed as Brooklyn-based street artist Swoon turns the fifth floor rotunda of the Brooklyn Museum into an immersive playground. Known for a diverse palette that includes printed portraits on abandoned buildings and large-scale figurative installations, Swoon (born Caledonia Dance Curry) celebrates “everyday” people while exploring social and environmental issues. For Motherlands, she has created a 72-foot-high dome atop a “constructed environment” of figurative portraits, drawings and foliage. Have fun under the doom. 200 Eastern Parkway, Brooklyn, brooklynmuseum.org

 

Buddha (detail) Central Thailand, 1st half 7th century. Lent by the National Museum, Bangkok, Thailand

A Buddha dating from the first half of the 7th Century, loaned by the National Museum, Bangkok, Thailand

Lost Kingdoms: Hindu-Buddhist Sculpture of Early Southeast Asia, 5th to 8th Century
Metropolitan Museum of Art, April 14-July 27, 2014
Though referred to as “lost kingdoms” because their identities only emerged through 20th century archeological research, the earliest kingdoms of Southeast Asia produced art that endured. The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Lost Kingdoms is the first international loan exhibition to showcase these masterworks of early religious art. The majority of the monumental sculptures are carved in stone and complimented by fine examples of bronze, gold, silver and terra-cotta. Many works are considered national treasures and are on loan from Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Myanmar and more. 1000 Fifth Ave., get tickets

 

Andy Warhol's 'Most Wanted Men No. 2, John Victor G.,' 1964 (Photo: © The Andy Warhol Museum)

Andy Warhol’s ‘Most Wanted Men No. 2, John Victor G.,’ 1964 (Photo: © The Andy Warhol Museum)

Andy Warhol’s 13 Most Wanted Men and the 1964 World’s Fair
Queens Museum, April 27-September 7, 2014
Andy Warhol knew how to create controversy — 50 years ago he received a public art commission for the 1964 World’s Fair and decided to enlarge mug shots from the NYPD’s most wanted list for a large mural. Warhol’s only public art piece, 13 Most Wanted Men, was quickly painted over by Fair officials who deemed it inappropriate. Warhol later created 20 Most Wanted Men using some of the original World’s Fair screens. Those screens form the core of the exhibition at the Queens Museum, installed 200 yards from the original site. New York City Building, Flushing Meadows Corona Park, Queens, queensmuseum.org

 

Clover Leaf Evening Dress by Charles James, 1953 (Photo: © The Metropolitan Museum of Art)

Clover Leaf Evening Dress by Charles James, 1953 (Photo: © The Metropolitan Museum of Art)

Charles James: Beyond Fashion
Metropolitan Museum of Art, May 8-August 10, 2014
Legendary couturier Charles James (1906-1978) created ball gowns of such glamour and elegance that his influence on fashion is indelibly stamped. Charles James: Beyond Fashion, the inaugural exhibition of the Costume Institute’s new Anna Wintour Costume Center examines the prodigious career of Mr. James. His innovative tailoring, scientific eye and singular design process are explored through a variety of media. The retrospective exhibition features 75 notable designs. 1000 Fifth Ave., get tickets

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