New York in Spring: Fresh Contemporary Art Exhibitions to See


Sandy Di Yu

Spring Cleaning for us includes sweeping up the best offerings of New York’s art scene and presenting it with a fresh dose of longer days and warmer nights. Take a gander at ArtRabbit's most inspiring shows of the season to help coax you out of hibernation.

Juan Antonio Olivares at the Whitney Museum of American Art

Entwining autobiography with fantasy, Moléculas, the animated film and exhibition of related drawings take on the universal experiences of alienation, loss, and ultimately death, through the unassuming protagonist of a child’s toy.

Material Witness Witness Material at Knockdown Center

This multidisciplinary exhibition featuring the work of various artists considers the idea of “material witness”, a legal term defined by subjectively relayed experience as opposed to objective evidence, contrary to what the term “material” might suggest. In the age of police sovereignty where even the mechanical eye of a camera is not enough to result in conviction, this timely exhibition take a variety of approaches to express the impact of systematic violence on the body.

Jesse ChunBaxter St at the Camera Club of New York

This multimedia solo exhibition Name Against the Same Sound by artist Jesse Chun and organized by curator Howie Chen investigates the geopolitical conditions of the English language through examining English as a Second Language learning resources. Chun’s work explores the technological and ideological machinery underlying the process of cultural assimilation and translation, focusing on the hegemony of English and the subjectivization of non-native speakers in the process of learning the language.

Superposition at Joshua Liner Gallery

This group exhibition, curated by Johnny Abrahams, is aptly named Superposition, a term borrowed from quantum mechanics which references the ability of electrons and other atomic building blocks to exist in multiple places and states at the same time. This show seeks to contextualize work that shares a certain visual nuance and subtlety by locating individual works in discrete relation to each other, revealing surprising insights through the possibility of alternate and contradictory states.

La Frontera. Encounters Along the Border at MAD - Museum of Arts and Design ​

Nearly two thousand miles long, the US-Mexico Frontera (Borderlands) is the most frequently crossed international border in the world. The exhibition La Frontera: Encounters Along the Border seeks to explore this space and what it represents. Jewelry artists from Mexico, the United States, Latin America, and Europe expose the underlying currents of the border environment within geographic, political, economic, social, cultural, and ideological contexts.

Julia Phillips: Failure Detection at MoMA PS1

Featuring newly commissioned major works in combination with existing sculptures using primarily ceramics, Phillips creates objects and scenes that are intimately connected to the body. Her sculptures largely avoid direct figuration, and instead propose various interventions into and support structures for the body, emphasizing its absence from the works. Impressions of the human form are visible through elements like casts of orifices, handprints, and other traces, which indicate particular bodily placements in relation to her forms.

Tarsila do Amaral: Inventing Modern Art in Brazil at MoMA

This is the first exhibition in the United States exclusively devoted to foundational Brazilian artist Tarsila do Amaral, focusing on her pivotal production from the 1920s, from her earliest Parisian works, to the emblematic modernist paintings produced in Brazil, ending with her large-scale, socially driven works of the early 1930s. The exhibition features over 130 artworks, including paintings, drawings, sketchbooks, photographs, and other historical documents drawn from collections across Latin America, Europe, and the United States.

Peter Hujar: Speed of Life at The Morgan Library & Museum

Peter Hujar: Speed of Life presents one hundred and forty photographs by this enormously important and influential artist. Drawn from the extensive holdings of his work at the Morgan and from nine other collections, the show and its catalogue follow Hujar from his beginnings in the mid-1950s to his central role in the East Village art scene three decades later. His mature career paralleled the public unfolding of gay life between the Stonewall uprising in 1969 and the AIDS crisis of the 1980s.

Charles Pétillon / Javier Riera / Barry Underwood: A Slight Shift at Sous Les Etoiles Gallery

Jointly photography and installation, A Slight Shift disrupts landscapes and evokes new spatial experiences through the intervention of banal objects in unexpected locations. Working with balloons, LED lights, and projections, the photographic documentation of these installations emphasises the relationship between human and nature as well as ecological or political concerns.

Kay Rosen: Stirring Wirds at Alexander Gray Associates

This exhibition underscores a political conscience that grounds Rosen’s five decade career exploring the use of language and text. Rosen’s work mines the visual characteristics of words and letters, typography and syntax. Extensive research and experimentation results in deceptively simple graphic works, where form and meaning interplay.

Sandy Di Yu is a London based writer, art theorist and artist. Follow her on Instagram or visit her website.