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 thought-provoking, clever and memorable shows that stand out in a crowded field. Below is a selection of current shows our team of editors can't stop talking about.
This week we check out British-born botanist and writer Dwight Ripley's drawings in ink and colored pencil on paper, some of which haven't been seen for a half-century; the latest in Yinka Shonibare's photographs of costumes and costume-like sculptures; and dozens of portraits by L.A. artist Henry Taylor.
Glenn Goldberg at Jason McCoy, through Feb. 24
Glenn Goldberg's fantasy landscapes and gardens are colorful and graphic, while an overlay of tiny black and white dots gives the works an intense physicality, demonstrating that the visual experience is emphatically of the body.
Dwight Ripley at Tibor de Nagy Gallery, through March 10
In 15 small drawings, Tibor de Nagy presents the work of polymath Dwight Ripley (1908–1973), once described in the New York Times as "linguist, poet, botanist, artist." It's been 50 years since some of these drawings have been exhibited: each represents a site where Ripley would go to collect plant specimens. Place is identified by text written in cursive in the sky, and the botanical names are disguised as the rippling details in landmasses. The drawings are surreal, erudite and utterly delightful.
Ray Smith and G.T. Pellizzi at Y Gallery, through Mar. 6
Smith and Pellizzi's show features sculptural assemblages of shattered cans and aging lumber, and paint-splattered wooden panels that the two Mexican-American artists created by shooting cans of paint with shotguns. Pellizzi and Smith have tied their project directly to history-the assassination of a French colonial autocrat by Mexican revolutionaries, a subject famously portrayed by Manet. The pair also chose a site, Smith's family ranch near Brownsville, Tex., that evokes both the Wild West and the border violence today linked to drug smuggling, labor exploitation and immigration struggles.
Yinka Shonibare at James Cohan, through Mar. 24
Beauty, skill, quality, good humor, high seriousness and subliminal eroticism are on ample display in this show by the London-born artist of Nigerian descent, featuring large staged photographs that duplicate famous death scenes from art history (The Death of Chatterton, etc.). Don't miss the three exquisitely crafted fetish objects: boots, a male masturbation guard and the Anti-Hysteria Machine, a steam-driven piston shaped like a penis.
Tom Friedman at Luhring Augustine, through Mar. 17
Tom Friedman brings his obsessive sculptural skills to his first solo exhibition in New York in seven years and his first with this gallery. See a one-inch wooden figure flying a kite dozens of feet in the air! See an 8-foot-tall urinating man, made entirely out of stainless steel! See a video camera and tripod, carved solely out of wood! The gallery's website even includes descriptions of how some of the works were made.
Noriyuki Haraguchi at McCaffrey Fine Art, through Mar. 17
One of the lesser-known Mono-ha artists (though few, aside from Lee Ufan, are shown regularly in the U.S.), Noriyuki Haraguchi has long focused on raw materials like concrete and steel. This show, "Works from Yokosuka," was a somewhat less austere take on industrial matter, including a tiny model of a battleship in a glass vitrine, fragments of a fighter jet and a colorful graphic silkscreen of a Corsair plane.
Henry Taylor at PS1, through Apr. 9
Henry Taylor's path to a PS1 retrospective was circuitous: he worked as an aide on a psych ward for 10 years before enrolling in CalArts, and his paintings and sculptures—most created in the last decade, some in the months prior to the show opening, while Taylor worked in residence in one of the museum's former classroom spaces—feature friends, relatives, strangers and famous black athletes like Alice Coachman and Jackie Robinson.
"The Lookout" is compiled by A.i.A. associate editor Leigh Anne Miller.
2012, aluminum, wood, sublimation print on polyester and concrete, 71 3/4 by 122 1/2 by 135 inches overall. Courtesy Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New Yor