For this month’s edition of Art Beat, SIXTY has selected shows in New York and Los Angeles that veer from landscape design to art made with Snapchat videos. There’s “boring art,” iridescence, and even a mystery show. Herewith, your guide to the best art shows happening this September.
NEW YORK CITY: Roberto Burle Marx at New York Botanical Garden
It’s rare for landscape architects to get this sort of living exhibition. Roberto Burle Marx, however, was a rare artist. The first to introduce modernist aesthetics into landscape design in Brazil—and one of the first to call for conservation of the Amazon—he garnered worldwide acclaim for his work and helped define the country’s unique take on modernism, and he’s the subject of the largest show ever put on by the New York Botanical Garden.
At the garden, there’s a black-and-white winding pathway that mimics Marx’s iconic mosaic design for Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro. There’s also a living wall of lush plant-life, and gardens that include Marx’s beloved bromeliads, elephant ears, and cycads.
The artist also worked with inorganic mediums, such as painting and textiles, which he often integrated into his living designs, also on view at the NYBG. With an oeuvre spanning 3,000 garden projects in Brazil and beyond, and at least 50 plants bearing his name, the impact of this artist is ripe for exploration. Through September 29, 2019.
NEW YORK CITY: Cindy Ji Hye Kim at Foxy Production
An exhibition title like Verses from the Apocalypse might conjure images of a red-faced Beelzebub and black cauldrons bubbling with unspeakable horrors, but the work on view at Foxy Production will be simple, elegant, and grisaille—all in a grey palette. Though restrained, the artist, Cindy Ji Hye Kim, explores the limits on what art can be and do.
Drawing inspiration from a series of 16th-century paintings of the Tower of Babel (the biblical, mythic structure where all the world’s people lived after the Great Flood and spoke a universal language), Kim has created a series of paintings, drawings and sculptures that belie the chaos of such a scene. Instead of denseness and disorder, the artist renders scenes of stillness: vacant theaters, floating monks, schoolgirls as letters from the Korean alphabet, scaffolding holding up nothing as far as the eye can tell.
By holding back, there’s an acknowledgement of the limits to what art can achieve. But by doing so, are those limits pushed just a tiny bit further? September 6, 2019 through October 13, 2019
NEW YORK CITY: Iridescence at Cooper Hewitt
Try, dear reader, to describe “iridescence.” Rather than one thing, the quality of iridescence is the changing of color depending on your angle, from blues and greens to purples and pinks and hues in between. An exhibition at Cooper Hewitt is dedicated to exploring this shifty characteristic that’s been applied to objects for centuries.
Found in mother-of-pearl, oil slicks, insect wings, and soap bubbles, iridescence has long captured the eye. The show includes a ring made by Dominican-American artist Francisco Rebajes in 1960; a golden soup bowl with the shimmering rainbow quality; and a vase from 1900 by French ceramicist Clément Massier.
Derived in part from the Greek goddess Iris—the personification of the rainbow—iridescence has an ephemeral quality that inspires delight in people of all ages. Water pitchers, sorcerer’s stones, Japanese fruit knives, and other objects from around the world illuminate the cross-cultural fascination with this trait. Through October 27, 2019.
LOS ANGELES: Christian Marclay at LACMA
Among the artistic developments by Christian Marclay, using the turntable as an instrument—parallel to hip-hop in the late ’70s—is a significant one. Since then his work has included sound collage, film installations, and other pieces revolving around themes of noise and time. His new work for LACMA? Snapchat-as-medium.
Marclay, who was born in 1955, collaborated with the company to create Sound Stories, a collection of videos posted publicly on the popular social media app. For the making of the five audiovisual installations, millions of videos were employed, with two of the installations also being interactive.
The videos, filtered with an algorithm that searched for usable sounds, are used to create a sort of crowdsourced music piece. An artist known for theatrical gesture (in the ’80s Marclay released a record with no sleeve, so that the dust and scratches became a part of the music), this turn to corporate collab might be a surprise for some. But given his long history of sampling and mixing and drawing from popular culture, it’s not a total shock. Through October 14, 2019.
LOS ANGELES: Tammi Campbell at Anat Ebgi
The title of Tammi Campbell’s show at Anat Ebgi is so good you should visit purely on its merit. Boring Art is composed of works that may look boring, but which conceal hefty and crucial concepts. The works are all reproductions by artists such as Frank Stella, Ellsworth Kelly, and John Baldessari.
Besides a commentary on the fact that men dominate the discussion of art history, the works by Campbell question the idea of having “true” art made by “geniuses.” These works are perfect reproductions, a display of skill, but come with deft manipulations that strengthen the message and texture the ideas.
One piece is covered in bubble wrap and tape, a hint at the status of artworks as products and a nod to the whole economy of people that makes them possible. But then, moving closer, it’s revealed that the wrap and tape is actually a trompe l’oeil trick created with acrylic. Boring this show is not. September 7, 2019 through October 26, 2019.
LOS ANGELES: Vincent Valdez at Matthew Brown
At the time of this writing, there is very little information about the exhibition that Vincent Valdez will be having at Matthew Brown Los Angeles. All we know is that it’s titled It Was Never Yours, a quip on the famous saying uttered by Tony Montana in Scarface. But we can still conjecture.
Valdez made waves with a painting like few artworks have done in recent memory: a 30-foot painting of contemporary KKK figures, whispering to each as a huge Chevy truck arrives. The Houston-based Valdez had this piece purchased by the Blanton Museum of Art in Austin, and it was considered so controversial that the museum waited a year while they figured out how to present it.
His other work includes photorealistic black-and-white portraits, exploring a panoply of American figures. Stark, gripping, and filled with drama, Valdez’s work is a stunning rendition of our current moment. Though we don’t know just yet what this show will consist of, it’s likely that it will cause a stir. September 5, 2019 through October 19, 2019.
Header image: Tammi Campbell, Another Hollywood Dream Bubble, framed and wrapped, 2019. Courtesy of the artist and Anat Ebgi.