With an ever-growing number of galleries scattered around New York, it's easy to feel overwhelmed. Where to begin? Here at A.i.A., we are always on the hunt for clever, memorable shows that stand out in a crowded field. Below are eight fall shows our team of editors can't stop talking about.
This week we check out the latest of Lisa Yuskavage's "bad girl" paintings, Firooz Zahedi's early photos of Liz Taylor in Iran and the collages and photographs that go into Mickalene Thomas's elaborate, glittery portraiture.
Sterling Ruby and Lucio Fontana at Andrea Rosen, through Oct. 15
Sterling Ruby (b. 1972) and Lucio Fontana (1899–1968) may seem an unlikely pairing, but their shared irreverence toward surfaces (smudged, slashed and otherwise violated) and interior volumes (exposed unmercifully) is evident in these wall works, ceramics and bronze sculptures. The surprise of the show? Ruby's collage-and-paint works on cheap brown cardboard, which look like classics from the early 20th century.
Lisa Yuskavage, at David Zwirner, through Nov. 5
The girls are back, in all their naughty splendor. Mainly it's more of the same, though ever more accomplished: nubile, large-breasted beings in unnatural poses, glistening in colored light and suggestively interacting. But in a new, grand triptych, events take on a cinematic scope and scale, with a crowd of extras cast from Dutch genre painting and zombie flicks.
Lyonel Feininger at the Whitney, through Oct. 16
American artist Lyonel Feininger spent the bulk of his career in Germany before moving back to New York at the onset of WWII. In addition to his well-known Cubism-inspired paintings and woodcuts, "At the Edge of the World" includes comic strips he created for German and American newspapers and wooden toys carved for his children.
Firooz Zahedi at Leila Heller, through Oct. 29.
One of a number of art shows and events this season honoring the late great icon Elizabeth Taylor, this exhibition of early works by Iranian-born photographer Firooz Zahedi offers more than a film-star tribute. Traveling through Iran with Taylor in the late 1970s, in the days just before the fall of the Shah, Firooz captures the exoticism as well as the heady atmosphere of a world about to be turned upside down.
Mickalene Thomas at Lehmann Maupin, through Oct. 29
This salon-style show of drawings and collages, plus surprisingly intimate large-scale polaroids, reveals how Thomas builds up the layered, patterned look of her paintings.
Alice Attie at Foley, through Nov. 5
Everyone doodles in their margins of their notebooks during class, but no one does it quite like Alice Attie, who for several years has turned the lectures she attends at Columbia into concentrated mini-studio sessions. Each of the intricately tangled text-based drawings in "Class Notes" was completed during the course of a single seminar, on topics ranging from advanced physics to the philosophy of Islam.
Zipora Fried at On Stellar Rays, through Oct. 23
Israeli-born Zipora Fried's glossy, large-scale graphite drawings evoke the quality of hair. In addition to these four works on Mylar, "Salon Noir" includes a series of blown-up childhood photos of the artist, which she has creepily defaced with tangled black wool thread.
Erika Keck at Envoy Enterprises, through Oct. 9
In the strongest work in this show, what look like cut-up scraps of painted canvas are really thick swaths of acrylic paint, peeled off a flat surface and draped over bare wood stretcher bars leaning against the wall. "Me the People" includes several such pieces employing this technique, plus drawings on Mylar and more straightforward paintings on canvas and board.
"The Lookout" is compiled by A.i.A. Associate Editor Leigh Anne Miller