Show Us Your Wall: Want a Warehouse of Art? Try the Installment Plan

“Without Frank Stella, we wouldn’t be collecting art,” said Ron Pizzuti, who fell in love with a small Stella painting in Paris in the early 1970s but couldn’t imagine spending $10,000 on an artwork. The Ohio native, then working in retail, got his initiation buying a Karel Appel print for $900 on installment in 1974 from a gallery closer to home, in Columbus.

After he founded the Pizzuti Companies, a real estate and development concern, in 1976, he soon found he could buy Stella as well as Willem de Kooning, Franz Kline, Agnes Martin and Cy Twombly.

“Ron was born with the gift of a very aesthetic eye,” Ann Pizzuti said, sitting with her husband in their Manhattan apartment overlooking Madison Square Park, where Mr. Pizzuti was recently honored for helping to steer its public art program. Ms. Pizzuti good-naturedly indulges her husband’s obsession with collecting, now focused on contemporary, often politically charged works by artists including Titus Kaphar, Zhang Huan, Adi Nes and Simone Leigh.

Numbering some 2,400 pieces, the collection is installed in their homes here; in Sarasota, Fla.; and in Columbus, also home of the Pizzuti Collection — an 18,000-square-foot, nonprofit public space with rotating exhibitions. “Go Figure,” up now, features work by Deana Lawson, Omar Victor Diop and Derrick Adams, among others.

While their Columbus home retains some earlier acquisitions of classic Minimalist pieces, the New York apartment has works exclusively from the 21st century, including two monumental photographs of and by Marina Abramovic. “I treat them as a diptych,” said Mr. Pizzuti, adding that the artist, who holds a candle in the photos, actually burned her finger while making one of the images.

Also displayed here is a photograph of a tree by Jim Hodges, who laser-cut the leaves so they appear to flutter; sculptures by Ken Price, Arlene Shechet and Josiah McElheny; and a Tony Oursler piece that consists of a blue splotchlike shape framing a close-up video of an eye and mouth that occasionally mutters things like, “Why is the sky blue?”

“It’s a long loop, and I didn’t know it spoke,” Mr. Pizzuti said. “I was in the bedroom and heard this voice and thought, ‘Somebody’s in here.’ I had the alarm on. I walk in, and lo and behold it was this.”

Following are edited excerpts from our conversation.

How would you characterize your collecting approach at this point?

RON PIZZUTI Today, unless it’s a Frank Stella print from Tyler Graphics in excellent condition, or another artist we already collect in depth, we’re not buying anything produced before 2001. We had to redefine what we were doing, otherwise we’d be broke. We’re particularly focusing on African and African-American artists. It started a few years ago with Lyle Ashton Harris and Hank Willis Thomas. Also Cuban artists like Roberto Diago, who I think is the best living artist in Cuba today.

Ann, what has your role been in this enterprise?

ANN PIZZUTI Support. Sometimes I go to the galleries and the shows. I’ve learned a lot.

RON PIZZUTI She selected one of my favorites. It’s a glass wall piece by Rob Wynne called “Exhale,” his interpretation of champagne bubbles. We took a Stella painting down in our home in Columbus and hung it in its place.

ANN PIZZUTI There are certain pieces that I claim are my pieces. The Jim Hodges tree. The [Gerhard] Richter.

RON PIZZUTI We paid $135,000 for that. Today it’s well into seven figures, maybe eight figures. It’s one of the problems in the art market today. The prices are accelerating too fast. It’s attracting a whole new group of collectors who, in my opinion, are collecting for the wrong reason. We’ve never bought anything thinking that down the road we’ll sell it. Buy with your heart, not with your pocketbook.

Do you have to agree on things?

ANN PIZZUTI In all the pieces he has, maybe there have been five where I said, “You’re not hanging that in my house.”

RON PIZZUTI The first was a Lucas Samaras painting, with skeletal-like faces and exaggerated teeth and nostrils, face upon face. It’s not a very pleasant looking piece. I love it. Now it’s in [our son] Joel’s house.

So you have veto power over what gets hung?

ANN PIZZUTI Yes. Not what gets bought. Probably there would be a few surprises for me at the warehouse.

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Nonfiction: When Misery Becomes a Subject for Art

MISÈRE
The Visual Representation of Misery in the 19th Century
By Linda Nochlin
Illustrated. 176 pp. Thames & Hudson. $35.

Next time you visit the Whitney Museum of American Art, once you’ve wended your way through the galleries and pulled out your phone on the city-side balconies, make a point of peeking through Renzo Piano’s glass walls into the museum’s staff quarters. Half visible to the public, on the walls of various conference rooms and a staff lounge, is a series of dry-transferred quotations with a distinguished feminist bite. “What if Picasso had been born a girl?” begins one. Another, looking deceptively like an official museum wall text, asks as bluntly as possible: “Why have there been no great women artists?”

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Both questions are from a landmark 1971 essay by the late art historian Linda Nochlin, and her insights into the institutional construction of artistic greatness, now reproduced in stark black type on five floors of the Whitney by the artist Zoe Leonard, remain both uncommonly muscular and dismally relevant. In such books as “Realism” (1971) and “The Politics of Vision” (1989), Nochlin, who died last October at the age of 86, pioneered a more socially engaged history of art, grounded in her study of 19th-century French painting even as she shuttled from past to present. Her final book, “Misère,” returns to the 19th-century realist tradition, and examines artistic depictions of extreme poverty in industrializing Europe through the paintings and prints of Courbet, Géricault, Degas and Toulouse-Lautrec, as well as newspaper illustrations, early photographs and contemporary memorials.

Industrial capitalism produced not just great wealth but great poverty, and writers and artists, especially in the decades before photography left the studio, struggled to represent the extent of social misère in post-revolutionary Paris or mechanized Manchester. (Nochlin’s use of the French noun, and of misérables for its sufferers, signifies poverty as “a human condition,” beyond mere economic deprivation.) An iconography of misère may have first appeared among illustrators in famine-stricken Ireland, which became, for British and French social reformers, “the very paradigm of misery in the 19th century.” Unlike the twee genre paintings of the era, engravings in illustrated newspapers depicted starving Irishwomen as abject Madonnas, their pathos augmented by the medium’s “coarse network of cross-hatchings … its lack of nuance or subtlety.”

When French artists represented contemporary misère, they did so with divergent techniques for men and women. Lautrec depicted lower-class prostitutes without glamour, “lifting the folds of their chemises to reveal their meaty thighs and buttocks” for the health inspector. (Nochlin acidly adds that, while many French artists contracted syphilis, none ever depicted “male figures dropping their drawers” in the doctor’s cabinet.) Géricault favored “isolated and dispossessed” beggars and tramps, ignored by passers-by. Courbet — Nochlin’s enduring hero, whom she once called with some justification “the Mick Jagger of the 19th century” — concentrated on rural poverty, whether in his now-lost “The Stonebreakers” or his giant “The Painter’s Studio,” which features an Irish beggar woman slumped beside Courbet’s painting-in-the-painting. In the book’s most interesting chapter, Nochlin assesses the lesser-known naturalistic painter Fernand Pelez, whose bewildering “Grimaces and Misery: The Saltimbanques” depicts tired, underfed children performing in a Paris sideshow, a spectacle of misère that stands in for the impoverished city. (It hangs in the Petit Palais, and traveled to the Metropolitan Museum of Art last year.)

This is a short book, and rushed in places. Nochlin pans a “farcical” exhibition on prostitution at Paris’s Musée d’Orsay in just a few sentences, without much detail, and her assessment of four Irish hunger memorials is also slim — she concedes that she could not travel to see most of them. What endures in this final book, though, is a fixation with the past as a portal to present misères, whether persistent gender inequalities or economic disparities as extreme as those of the industrial age. Images, she taught us over decades, have a unique capacity to indict those wrongs, and, as artists’ representations of others’ misfortunes have lately occasioned protests and even calls for destruction, Nochlin reminds us that there is nothing ethical in closing your eyes. “Are we willing to give up on visual documentation of human beings without a murmur?” she asks in “Misère.” Or can we encourage an art as keenly engaged with society as Nochlin’s own writing?

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$157 Million for a Modigliani Raises Hardly Any Eyebrows

At this point in the art market, it’s hard not to get inured to the superlatives: the most valuable private collection sold at auction (the Rockefeller sale last week at Christie’s); the highest price ever paid for a painting ($450 million for Leonardo da Vinci’s “Salvator Mundi” in November at Christie’s) and what Sotheby’s had confirmed was the highest estimate ever placed on a work at auction ($150 million for Amedeo Modigliani’s 1917 painting, “Nu Couché (Sur Le Côté Gauche).”

The Modigliani barely made it past that figure Monday evening at Sotheby’s, selling for $157.2 million with fees to its third-party guarantor, at a sale that otherwise featured what many agreed were B+ offerings.

“You cannot find any more masterpieces,” said the dealer David Nahmad, adding of Sotheby’s, “Considering what they had, they did well.”

Although it was the highest auction price ever for a work sold at Sotheby’s, equally noteworthy is that the painting also carried the highest guarantee ever given by the company. This meant that the auction house was willing to assure a minimum price to the owner, potentially risking millions.

The scale of the guarantee confirms that buyers can be secured in advance for trophy works. The results on Monday, the first night of the spring auctions, seemed to bear that out — although the Modigliani sold on one bid to the third party without any other buyer interest (despite valiant efforts by the auctioneer, Helena Newman, to bring in Patti Wong, the chairwoman of Sotheby’s Asia, who was working the phones).

“It cleared the mark painfully,” said Christian Ogier, a Paris dealer in Impressionist and modern art. “It’s difficult to get money out of China at the moment,” he added, referring to the absence of bidding on the Modigliani from Ms. Wong. “Everyone knew what was expected. The high guarantees break the dynamics of an auction, somehow.”

The overall atmosphere in the salesroom on Monday evening was muted, with few lots selling above their high estimates at a pace that, at times, felt glacial; 13 lots failed to sell. The only applause of the night was when the hammer came down on Jean Arp’s curvilinear sculpture “Ptolémée II” for $2.2 million with fees, selling to the dealer Eykyn Maclean in the room.

And the price of the Modigliani also fell short of the last auction high for a work by the Italian modernist: $170.4 million for the more overtly sensual 1917-18 canvas, “Nu Couché,” which in 2015 sold at Christie’s to Liu Yiqian, a former taxi driver turned billionaire art collector.

Still, the $100 million club keeps adding more members, including Jean-Michel Basquiat, whose untitled painting sold for $110.5 million last year; Pablo Picasso, whose “Women of Algiers” sold for $179.4 million in 2015; and Andy Warhol, whose car crash painting sold for $105.4 million in 2013.

The Modigliani for sale on Monday was one of a celebrated series of nudes commissioned from by his Paris dealer Léopold Zborowski (for a stipend of 15 francs per day). The painting was consigned to Sotheby’s by the billionaire Irish horse breeder and art collector John Magnier, who had bought the work at auction in 2003 for $26.9 million, which at the time was a high for the artist.

The seller sought to capitalize on the painting’s recent inclusion in the Modigliani retrospective that closed last month at Tate Modern in London, where it was featured on posters and on the cover of the catalog.

If a lot sells for the guarantee, the winning bidder becomes the owner. But if it exceeds the guarantee price, the guarantor earns a percentage of the surplus amount, a quick way to earn potentially millions of dollars.

“In order to win the painting, they had to come up with a strong guarantee and a strong deal structure,” said Brett Gorvy, a former Christie’s executive who is now a private dealer, referring to Sotheby’s. “When you look at rest of their sale, it’s very O.K., but nothing exciting.”

“They needed that Modigliani, specifically going up against Rockefeller,” he added, recalling last week’s $833 million auction at Christie’s.

There are many art world professionals who bemoan the increasing trend toward guarantees, arguing that it takes the democratizating suspense out of the auction — only those who can commit large sums in advance can compete (sometimes that is the auction house itself). The result is that the biggest lots have essentially been presold, without publicly available information about the financial terms of each deal.

“What drives some of these huge presale estimates is actually the negotiation that takes place with the prospective third-party guarantor, the sale before the sale,” said David Norman, an art adviser based in New York, who until 2016 was Sotheby’s vice chairman of Sotheby’s Americas and its co-chairman of Impressionist and modern art worldwide. “Basically $100 million is where one has to begin to price a truly great work by any of the major artists.”

Valuation increases of between four- and fivefold also characterized significant works by Claude Monet and Pablo Picasso that had been acquired by their sellers back in the early 2000s.

Monet’s 1896 canvas, “Matinée sur la Seine,” had been bought by an unidentified American collector at auction for $5.7 million in 2000. At Sotheby’s, it was given a low estimate of $18 million and sold for $20.5 million to a telephone bid.

The sale of Picasso’s small 1932 head study of a dreaming Marie-Thérèse Walter, “Le repos,” was timed to coincide with Tate Modern’s current blockbuster show, “Picasso 1932: Love, Fame, Tragedy.” The owner had acquired the painting at auction in 2000 for $7.9 million. The painting sold for $36.9 million.

Sotheby’s total of $318.3 million from 45 lots exceeded the $173.8 million total for its Impressionist and modern sale last year, in which no work was valued at more than $30 million.

Before the auction, a cluster of protesters gathered outside the auction house’s York Avenue headquarters, objecting to the inclusion in the sale of works from the Berkshire Museum, in Pittsfield, Mass. In April, a Massachusetts judge ruled that the cash-strapped museum could proceed with its controversial plans to sell a much loved painting by Norman Rockwell and other artworks to fund its redevelopment.

Sotheby’s sale of Impressionist and modern works included works on paper by Francis Picabia and Henry Moore, the first works to be auctioned from the Berkshire Museum’s collection. Picabia’s 1914 abstract “Force comique” brought $1.1 million with fees, and Moore’s 1942 “Three Seated Women,” $300,000. Both works had formerly been owned by Massachusetts collectors.

That the Modigliani failed to generate the excitement Sotheby’s had hoped cast something of a pall over the evening. “There was only one winner — the seller,” said Alan Hobart, the director of the London-based Pyms Gallery, who thought Sotheby’s priced the painting too ambitiously. “They’re testing the market too hard. They have to be careful.”

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24 Art Exhibitions to View in N.Y.C. This Weekend

‘THE SENSES: DESIGN BEYOND VISION’ at the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum (through Oct. 28). There’s a serious, timely big idea at this exhibition: As social media, smartphones and virtual reality make us ever more “ocularcentric,” we have taken leave of our nonvisual senses — and need to get back in touch, literally. Thus “The Senses” features multisensory adventures such as a portable-speaker-size contraption that emits odors, with titles like “Surfside” and “Einstein,” in timed combinations; hand-painted scratch-and-sniff wallpaper (think Warhol’s patterned cows but with cherries — cherry-scented, naturally); and a device that projects ultrasonic waves to simulate the touch and feel of virtual objects. The show also presents commissions, videos, products and prototypes from more than 65 designers and teams, some of which address sensory disabilities like blindness and deafness, including Vibeat, which can be worn as a bracelet, brooch or necklace and translates music into vibrations. And if you bring the kids, they will likely bliss out stroking a wavy, fur-lined installation that makes music as you rub it. (Michael Kimmelman)
212-849-8400, cooperhewitt.org

‘STEPHEN SHORE’ at the Museum of Modern Art (through May 28). Not staged, not lit, not cropped, not retouched, the color photographs of this American master are feats of dispassionate representation. This must-see retrospective — curated with real wit by Quentin Bajac, MoMA’s photo chief — opens with Mr. Shore’s teenage snaps at Andy Warhol’s Factory. Then it turns to the road-trip imagery of “American Surfaces” and the steely precision of “Uncommon Places” — landmarks in photographic history that scandalized an establishment convinced the camera could find beauty solely in black-and-white. Mr. Shore is revealed not only as a peripatetic explorer but also a restless experimenter with new photographic technologies, from stereoscopic slide shows to print-on-demand books. The only flaw is his recent embrace of Instagram, allowing museumgoers to lazily flick through images on MoMA’s smudged iPads. New technologies are great, but not at the expense of concentration. (Farago)
212-708-9400, moma.org

‘2018 TRIENNIAL: SONGS FOR SABOTAGE’ at the New Museum (through May 27). This Bowery museum’s fourth triennial exhibition, “Songs for Sabotage,” is the smallest, tightest edition of the show so far. Immaculately installed, it’s also the best looking. There’s a lot of good work, which is global in scope and not by a list of prevetted up-and-comers. (Zhenya Machneva, Dalton Paula and Daniela Ortiz are artists to look for.) Less admirably, it’s a safe and unchallenging show. Despite a politically demanding time, it acts as if ambiguity and discretion were automatically virtues. In an era when the market rules, it puts its money on the kind of art — easily tradable, displayable, palette-tickling objects — that art fairs suck up. (Cotter)
212-219-1222, newmuseum.org

GRANT WOOD: AMERICAN GOTHIC AND OTHER FABLES’ at the Whitney Museum of American Art (through June 10). This well-done survey begins with the American Regionalist’s little-known efforts as an Arts and Crafts designer and touches just about every base. It includes his mural studies, book illustrations and most of his best-known paintings — including “American Gothic” and “The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere.” Best of all are Wood’s smooth undulant landscapes with their plowmen and spongy trees and infectious serenity. (Smith)
212-570-3600, whitney.org

Last Chance

‘THOMAS COLE’S JOURNEY: ATLANTIC CROSSING’ at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (through May 13). The Met’s exhibition of the nation’s first major landscape artist and progenitor of what would be called the Hudson River School is gorgeous, politically right for right now and a lesson in the mutability of art history. Politically, Cole’s art is conservative, but it’s also work that challenges and complicates that term. And this show is precisely about complication. Just as Cole is most realistically and revealingly seen and judged against the background of his time, so is the exhibition, coming as it does in this confounding MAGA moment. (Cotter)
212-535-7710, metmuseum.org

‘DIAMOND MOUNTAINS: TRAVEL AND NOSTALGIA IN KOREAN ART’ at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (through May 20). Mount Kumgang, or the “Diamond Mountain,” lies about 90 miles from Pyeongchang’s Olympic Stadium, but it’s a world away: The august, multipeaked range lies in North Korea and has been impossible to visit for most of the past seven decades. Featuring stunning loans from the National Museum of Korea and other institutions in Seoul, South Korea, this melancholy beauty of a show assembles three centuries’ worth of paintings of the Diamond Mountain range, and explores how landscapes intermingle nostalgia, nationalism, legend and regret. The unmissable prizes here are the painstaking paintings of Jeong Seon, the 18th-century artist who is perhaps the greatest of all Korean painters. And later impressions of the mountains, including a blotchy vision from the Paris-based modernist Lee Ungno, give a deeper historical weight to very live geopolitics. (Farago)
212-535-7710, metmuseum.org

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Travel Tips: How to Make an Art Fair Part of Your Next Vacation

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Travel Tips

Art fairs aren’t just for fancy dealers and art buyers — regular art lovers can enjoy them too, and they take place around the world. Here’s how to add one to your next vacation itinerary.

CreditLars Leetaru

By Shivani Vora

Whether it’s ZONAMACO, in Mexico City, The Armory Show, in New York, or Art Basel, held in Basel, Switzerland, Miami Beach and Hong Kong, art fairs are more accessible and popular than ever. Attending a fair should be a part of any travel itinerary, according to Natasha Schlesinger, art historian and founder of ArtMuse, a company that offers private tours of art fairs in New York City and Europe.

“Art fairs are opportunities for people to see and learn about art just as they would if they were visiting a museum,” she said. “You don’t have to be a buyer to attend.”

Here are a few of her tips to make your visit to an art fair an enjoyable experience.

Think About the Art You’re Most Interested In

Art fairs are focused on different genres, including contemporary art, old master paintings and photography. When you decide which fairs to attend, hone in on the style of art that you find most appealing.

“Some cities such as New York have so many fairs that selecting which you want to go to can be challenging,” Ms. Schlesinger said. “Picking based on art you like will help narrow down the choices.”

Plan in Advance

You can learn about upcoming fairs in your area (or where you’re vacationing) by visiting art-focused news sites like ARTnews and Artsy. Many fairs take place over a four-day period, Ms. Schlesinger said, so there’s time to plan a visit.

However, entry lines to fairs can be long if you’re buying a ticket on the spot, so she advised buying a ticket online in advance. Also, consider going on a weekday when the crowds are thinner than on than the weekends, and if possible, browse the fair’s website to get a preview of what you might want to see and how many booths there are. “The amount of art some fairs have on display can be overwhelming so if you don’t go in with a plan, you could end up missing the artists you’re most interested in,” Ms. Schlesinger said.

Take Time to Learn About the Art

If there’s a piece or artist that you’re especially drawn to, don’t be afraid to ask the dealer questions even if you have no intentions of buying it, Ms. Schlesinger said. “You’re there to explore art, and dealers are there to teach you about the art they’re showing,” she said. Ask about who the artist is, his or her career trajectory, where the artist is exhibiting and how the prices for his or her art have changed in the last few years. Enjoy the fair as a learning experience.

Art fairs also often have additional opportunities to learn about art, art history, the current state of the art market and other aspects of the art world through panels, lectures and movie screenings. You can find out what’s available before you go on the fair’s website, or by visiting the general information desk when you arrive.

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They Came for a Piece of the Rockefeller Mystique. They Mostly Came Up Empty.

Christopher Gohr had never attended an auction before — just “eBay and stuff like that” — and the one he walked into at Christie’s was a dizzying place to start.

The collection of David and Peggy Rockefeller, a vast trove of paintings, furniture, porcelain and other treasures, was on the block over three days, with Wednesday offering some of the relative bargains.

Mr. Gohr, a line cook by trade, was hoping to take home to his East Village apartment a George III tea caddy, a wooden box from the late 18th century in which Mr. and Mrs. Rockefeller may or may not have stored their tea. It had been estimated to go for up to $500.

“Five-6-7-800 dollars already!” the auctioneer announced, as bids came in at a frenetic pace.

A split second later, $1,000. At $1,200 Mr. Gohr finally raised his paddle. Someone in the room bid $1,300. $1,500 from an online buyer in Hong Kong. Mr. Gohr’s arm went up at $2,000, his self-imposed cap.

No matter: A telephone bidder pushed the price to $2,400. The bid won the tea caddy, and with the buyer’s commission tacking on another $600, it came in at six times the estimate.

“I definitely went a little more than I thought I was going to,” Mr. Gohr, 48, said afterward, still processing what had happened. “Once I hit my cap, it was like, ‘O.K., what the heck?’”

The sale of more than 1,500 Rockefeller belongings is attracting some of the biggest collectors of the art and antiques worlds, and could bring in more than $1 billion, all for charity, by the sale’s end. On Tuesday night alone, more than $600 million was raised thanks to the sale of 44 first-rate artworks the couple gathered. Mrs. Rockefeller died in 1996, and her husband, the last surviving grandson of John D. Rockefeller, died last year at 101.

The pieces on sale Wednesday were more accessibly priced at three and four figures. Bidders without multiple estates could sit in the same room where, just the night before, a Picasso sold for $115 million, a Monet for $85 million (an auction high for the artist) and a Matisse for $81 million (ditto).

But those like Mr. Gohr who filed into Christie’s Rockefeller Center headquarters discovered that they were not the only ones drawn by the Rockefeller mystique.

A George III-era wooden side table garnered $25,000, more than four times its estimate. A silver ice pail engraved with Mr. Rockefeller’s name went for $50,000, more than 40 times its estimated price of $1,200. The piece with the lowest estimate, a circa-1780 mahogany armchair pegged at $200 to $300, went for $8,750.

A Mexican silver ice pail engraved with David Rockefeller’s name sold for $50,000.CreditChristie’s

One of the most expensive of the 250-plus lots, a porcelain dessert service that once belonged to Napoleon, was anticipated to sell for $250,000. The final price brought applause from around the room: Including fees, the set sold for $1.8 million.

Among those who came up short was Diane Wolf, who traveled to Christie’s from York, Pa. She and her husband own a company that makes corrugated boxes and live in a restored farmhouse that Ms. Wolf thought would be a great home for some Rockefeller antiques. She bid $4,000 on a John Berridge painting from around the late 1700s.

The final hammer price was $4,200. “I probably should’ve gone one more time,” Ms. Wolf, 60, said.

Demand was so high because few other sales have matched this scale and level of anticipation. Among aficionados, it is in the league of the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis estate auction at Sotheby’s in 1996; the Elizabeth Taylor jewelry sale at Christie’s in 2011; and the Yves Saint Laurent sale at Christie’s in Paris in 2009.

“It’s one of those magical sales that happens maybe once a decade where everyone is so exuberant, particularly for the decorative arts,” said Barbara Deisroth, a veteran decorative arts adviser..

“The auctioneers put the estimate out on what they are worth today,” Ms. Deisroth said. “And they’re unable to factor in what the upside will be with the celebrity part of it. Is it going to be 10 percent? Is it going to be 50 percent? Or is it going to be 500 percent?”

About 50 people showed up to bid in person, while 30 or so Christie’s staff members operated phone banks for those calling in. A screen at the back of the room indicated if an online bid, was coming in along with the geographical origin of the bid. Most of the winning bids came from outside the room.

Sitting near the front, Allan Polunsky, a San Antonio-based lawyer, raised his paddle for a pair of candlesticks believed to be from the 17th century. He had flown to New York City on a whim, buying tickets on Sunday so he could attend the public viewing of the items the next day.

“You don’t pass up opportunities like this,” Mr. Polunsky said.

The candlesticks were estimated to go for $1,500 to $2,500. Mr. Polunsky bid $4,000. The final price was $6,875.

Mr. Polunsky, 69, did find success later in the day. He bought a George II-era solid mahogany armchair for $30,000, three times the high estimate.

“I think it’ll look very nice in my office,” he said, but added, “I probably will have to reupholster it.”

Mr. Gohr, the line cook, left without any Rockefeller pieces, or regrets. “It’s more or less a bucket list thing, to come to somebody’s famous auction and just to be in the room and actually have a chance to bid on something,” he said. He even dressed in a suit and tie: “Ordinarily, it’s just jeans and a T-shirt.”

For those not able or inspired to participate in one of the live auctions, there was also the Christie’s website, where hundreds of the Rockefeller lots were being auctioned throughout the week. One of the hottest items online, a 14-karat-gold money clip depicting Rockefeller Center, was estimated to go for around $1,200.

The final price would probably not fit into that clip: $75,000.

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art review: ‘Heavenly Bodies’ Brings the Fabric of Faith to the Met

Once there was a man who wore the finest silks in Italy, but traded them all for sackcloth. His father was a wealthy cloth merchant, and in his youth he gamboled about Umbria in colorful, dandyish outfits. But when he had his calling he stripped off his fine clothes, pledged his body to God, and spent the rest of his life in a mendicant’s robe. He was Saint Francis of Assisi, and when the archbishop of Buenos Aires was proclaimed pope in 2013, he gave himself a new name, in honor of a man unembroidered.

I wonder what both Francises, saint and pontiff, might make of “Heavenly Bodies,” the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s colossal, hotly debated and richly anointed exhibition on the interweaving of fashion and Roman Catholicism. Years in the making, it includes exceptional loans of vestments from the Vatican — some of which have never before left Rome — and more than 150 ensembles of secular clothing from the last century. Here is papal regalia of unsurpassed intricacy, but also space-age brides, monastic couture, angels in gold lamé, and a choir up in the balcony dressed in head-to-toe Balenciaga.

For the 55 designers exhibited here, Catholicism is both a public spectacle and a private conviction, in which beauty has the force of truth and faith is experienced and articulated through the body. Sacrilegious? Heavens, no: The show is deeply respectful of the world’s largest Christian denomination, even reverential. But it takes communion at Fellini’s church rather than Francis’s — a surreal congregation whose parishioners express their devotion through enchanted excess.

“Heavenly Bodies” is the largest exhibition ever offered by the Met’s Costume Institute and was organized by its curator, Andrew Bolton. It runs from its dedicated downstairs hall to the Byzantine and medieval galleries and into the Lehman Wing; it then continues at the Cloisters, the museum’s serene home for religious art in Upper Manhattan. Most of the designers here were or are Catholics, including historical figures like Elsa Schiaparelli, Cristóbal Balenciaga, Christian Lacroix and Yves Saint Laurent, and active designers like Jean Paul Gaultier, John Galliano, Raf Simons and Maria Grazia Chiuri. Catholic Europe dominates; the United States is represented by Thom Browne (Mr. Bolton’s partner) and Kate and Laura Mulleavy of Rodarte; but designers from Latin America, the pope’s old stamping ground, are dismayingly absent.

After Mr. Bolton’s rigorous left-brain exercises of the last two years — the excellent, tech-minded “Manus × Machina” in 2016 and the body-questioning retrospective of Rei Kawakubo last year — this show is a return, for better and worse, to the high spectacle of “China: Through the Looking Glass.” It goes heavy on the Catholic drama, with mannequins posed as angels and novitiates, and there’s music throughout. (Playing in the medieval sculpture hall is an intolerable loop of staccato string accompaniment, drawn from a film soundtrack by Michael Nyman, that will make you wish the Costume Institute would take a Cistercian vow of silence.) It also places the clothing amid the Met’s superb collection of Byzantine and medieval art — ivories, tapestries, reliquaries. This intermarriage of religious art and secular fashion feels refreshing in places, silly in some; either way, it’s an event.

“Heavenly Bodies” is, to use a formula Catholics will find familiar, both one show and three. You can begin your approach to this trinity of fashion with the showcase of holy vestments in the basement galleries, or you can start upstairs with the grand secular displays inspired by Catholic hierarchy and ceremony (the weakest third). Then conclude at the most contemplative, and strongest, third — the gowns evoking orders and sacraments at the Cloisters.


upstairs

An Ecclesiastical Pageant

The exhibition’s presentation of secular clothing begins on either side of the Met’s central staircase, in the hallways devoted to Byzantine art. Five evening dresses from a recent collection of Dolce & Gabbana feature hand-sewn paillettes that cohere into icons of Mary and the saints, based on the mosaics of a Sicilian church. More inspired are Gianni Versace’s diaphanous dresses of gold and silver mesh, a signature material that the designer garlanded with crosses. He presented them for fall 1997: a season he never saw, as he was murdered that summer in Miami.

Versace drew inspiration from the Met’s 1997 blockbuster, “The Glory of Byzantium,” and these clingy sheaths set the stage for an encounter between religious art and clothes for the (rich and thin) laity.

In a gallery shaped like a Byzantine apse stands a Gothic haute couture gown by Jean Paul Gaultier — technically stunning but too gaudy to love — that incorporates holographic images of saints and aluminum panels decorated with eyes or hearts, like the ones ex-votos believers place in shrines. A mask of leather straps and cruciform plastic beads by the Belgian duo A.F. Vandevorst offers a rare dose of fetishism, though it is not half as fierce as the Met’s rosary from 16th-century Germany in the same case, composed of ivory beads half-face, half-skull.

Up here the restraint shown by the designers in the Vatican presentation gives way to ostentatious spectacle. Spotlights fall on a low-cut gown of red silk, designed by Pierpaolo Piccioli for Valentino this year, flashing more skin than any cardinal would allow. The hall’s Spanish iron choir screen frames an eye-popping haute couture ensemble by John Galliano for Dior in 2000-1, with a beaded headpiece shaped like a bishop’s mitre. The back is embroidered with a crucifix and the inscription “Dieu est mon maître”: God is my master. (A male model wore this gown in Mr. Galliano’s presentation, though it was designed for clients of either gender.)

Yet those who feared that this exhibition might edge into blasphemy will be relieved to hear that it takes few liberties. Quite the contrary: Mr. Bolton, a Catholic, treats the faith so earnestly that he re-sacralizes the medieval art on display. His approach to the “Catholic imagination” treats the visual splendor of the church as more than just a poor man’s bible, but as a manifestation of God that inheres in all beauty, including fashion. Holy vestments serve in the transubstantiation of wine and bread into blood and body, and in a similar way these secular garments also turn the Met’s medieval collection back into objects of worship.

Anyway, if these designers are sometimes rule breakers, they are not apostates. In fact two gowns here, one by Saint Laurent and the other by Riccardo Tisci, are not for humans at all; they were designed as costumes for statues of the Madonna.

This decision to mimic, rather than analyze, the splendors of the church is highly uncommon for a museum, and bracing in places. One can see why Cardinal Dolan and other ecclesiastical figures have been pleased. The downside is that “Heavenly Bodies” pushes so hard on the senses here that you are forced to leave your art historical tools in the nave. How were these ensembles made? Whom did they influence? Those are questions for tomorrow; for now, let us pray to saints Cristóbal, Jean Paul and Raf.

Such a carnal approach to Catholicism also comes at the cost of critical engagement with the ironies of fashion — above all, with ironies of gender. It seems, almost always, that the transference of the “Catholic imagination” from sacred clothing to secular has to pass through a woman’s body. There is almost no men’s wear in this exhibition; one rare entry is a wool coat by Mr. Simons, inspired by a priest’s soutane. The angels clad in Lanvin and Rodarte inhabiting the final gallery are all women, too. This display may merit a thousand praying-hands emoji on Instagram this summer, but you might ask whether these designers have merely perpetuated the gender discordance of the church in a more colorful key.


downstairs

Apostolic Elegance

The diplomatic and liturgical coup of “Heavenly Bodies” is in the Anna Wintour Costume Center, which features nearly four dozen articles of clothing and other regalia of recent popes, lent from the Sistine Chapel Sacristy. The church obliged the Met to keep the religious garments separate from the fashion objects, and they wanted a clean display, as the vestments are still in use. The architects Diller Scofidio + Renfro delivered with a design of extreme restraint. Chasubles, mantles and tiaras appear in pristine cases, and entire walls are left white.

A glorious cope, or outer cloak, painstakingly made between 1845 and 1861 and worn by Pius IX, is laid flat like a grand, wearable semicircular tapestry; in its central gold shield is a dynamic nativity scene in embroidered silks of blue, pink and melon. A vision of Adam and Eve’s expulsion sits beneath.

Pius IX seems to have been a bit of a clothes hound, and of the many accessories in a smaller gallery — mitres, crosiers, rings, and a pectoral cross of gold and amethysts that would suit Cher — the most opulent are Pius’s three tiaras, festooned with rubies and sapphires. A German-made tiara here is ringed by three crowns comprising 19,000 stones, mostly diamonds.

These are awe-inspiring, though you need not be Martin Luther to look askance at their opulence. In the show’s catalog, Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi writes that while “beauty and art have been the inseparable sisters of faith and Christian liturgy for centuries,” Catholics ought to recall Jesus’s warning, in the Woes of the Pharisees, not to make a show of your dress. No pope has worn a tiara since the Vatican II reforms of the 1960s — unless you count Jude Law as the chain-smoking, archconservative “Young Pope,” who sported one for his terrifying investiture speech.


the cloisters

Monastic Solitude

Where the clothing at Fifth Avenue draws on Catholicism’s rigid hierarchy and public rites, the Cloisters showcases fashion reflecting the quieter side of faith. It’s here you’ll find, in the reconstructed Spanish chapel, the show’s most famous ensemble: Balenciaga’s 1967 wedding gown, made of silk the color of ice milk and topped with an architectonic hood in place of a veil. Erroneously known as the “one-seam wedding dress,” this extraordinary garment appears to have been immaculately conceived rather than sewn. Here, too, the scenography is hardly subtle; the Balenciaga bride faces the apse as if in prayer, and speakers twitter “Ave Maria.”

But in general Mr. Bolton’s choreographed rendezvous between contemporary clothing and holy art of the past are more rewarding in the Cloisters’ tight confines, where one-to-one encounters come more easily. Precisely arced straw hats by the experimental milliner Philip Treacy appear as a mathematician’s response to the wimples of “The Flying Nun,” and sit in front of Netherlandish reliquary busts of female saints. A long black dress from 1999 by Olivier Theyskens, its bodice incised with a cruciform gap, stands between painted limestone statues of Saints Margaret and Petronilla. Near the garden is an extraordinary couture dress by Ms. Chiuri and Mr. Piccioli for Valentino; its metal-thread embroidery translates Cranach’s Adam and Eve, and its flora and fauna, into splendiferous ornament.

Mr. Bolton has made the unexpected and rewarding decision to place more than a dozen ensembles outdoors, in colonnades that ring the central cloister. Most outfits draw on monastic dress, including Mr. Piccioli’s elegant hooded dress of brown cashmere and Mr. Owens’ notorious (and rather stupid) sportswear robes cut out at the crotch. And there are older pieces, including an evening dress made in 1969 by the French designer known as Madame Grès, whose beige pleats are cinched by a brown knotted belt. Its inspiration is unmistakable: the habit of Zurbarán’s painting of St. Francis of Assisi, the rough brown cloth evoked through Madame Grès’s pilling angora wool.

His namesake gave a speech this September that is worth keeping in mind when you see “Heavenly Bodies,” in which he insisted that what is holy resides not in beauty alone. “I ask for the Church and for you the grace to find the Lord Jesus in the hungry brother, the thirsty, the stranger,” Pope Francis pleaded. And to find it, too, in “the one stripped of clothing and dignity.”


“Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination,” Through Oct. 8 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Cloisters; 212-535-7710, metmuseum.org.

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Review: ‘Boom for Real’ Is a Beguiling Look at a Teenage Basquiat

A new film from the director Sara Driver is an unequivocal cause for celebration. Ms. Driver’s last feature, “When Pigs Fly,” was made over two decades ago. She does not direct all that often, instead involving herself behind the scenes in the work of Jim Jarmusch, also her partner in life.

But the short filmography of this New York-based artist is more distinctive than the aggregated accomplishments of many who are more prolific. Consider Ms. Driver’s 1981 Paul Bowles adaptation, “You Are Not I,” long thought lost and rediscovered several years ago. This tale of madness does an intense double Dutch between art and genre modes, without ever breaking an aesthetic sweat.

That Ms. Driver’s new picture, “Boom For Real: The Late Teenage Years of Jean-Michel Basquiat,” is a documentary ought not to dissuade anyone hungry for this filmmaker’s voice. While, in many respects, it is conventional in form, alternating archival footage from the late 1970s and early ’80s with newly shot interviews, the movie has a momentum (aided by an exemplary soundtrack of songs from the era) and a rare interrogatory spirit.

As the film’s title announces, Ms. Driver’s subject is Jean-Michel Basquiat, an artist who died in 1988, at 27, yet who still produced a galvanic body of work. The movie shows that he first attracted notice for his street art, in the persona of “Samo.” (As a collaborator of his points out, this is a contraction of “same old,” as in “same old” you know what.) But Basquiat was not a graffiti artist as such, and the documentary does not cast his experiments in multidisciplinary art as a careerist strategy (this in spite of the fact that his personal charm made him a natural self-promoter). Rather, it depicts the young Basquiat interacting with a specific environment and making it his laboratory.

That environment is, of course, the somewhat desolate, dangerous Lower East Side of the late ’70s. There have been an awful lot of recent documentaries lauding the glories of this particular “old” New York, but Ms. Driver’s evocation of it is smart and seductive without being reductively nostalgic. Both she and Mr. Jarmusch, as well as their friend the writer Luc Sante, were beginning their careers at this time, and onscreen, Mr. Sante and Mr. Jarmusch contribute observations both amusing and evocative.

Ms. Driver also interviews Basquiat’s friends, lovers and collaborators, and while she shows a good deal of archival footage of the man himself — beautiful, with a lot of droll hairstyles — she withholds one thing: You never hear his voice. Basquiat’s presence in the film is more spectral as a result. This is Ms. Driver’s way of acknowledging loss. Basquiat’s art — raw, inventive, socially engaged — continues to speak to us even as the artist himself cannot.

Near the end of the movie, one of Basquiat’s friends refers to him as “a true investigator.” In Ms. Driver, the artist finds a kindred spirit, a fellow investigator who pays him proper and enthralling tribute.

Boom for Real: The Late Teenage Years of Jean-Michel Basquiat
Not rated. Running time: 1 hour 17 minutes.

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Dorothea Rockburne’s Ephemeral Art and Enduring Legacy

Ms. Rockburne earned a scholarship at 16 to the Montreal Museum School. As she approached graduation, her two favorite art teachers counseled her to leave Canada, recommending that she attend Black Mountain College in North Carolina. When she got there, she found her calling.

She studied art with the Abstract Expressionists Philip Guston, Franz Kline and Jack Tworkov; dance, with Merce Cunningham; music with the composers John Cage and Lou Harrison; poetry, with the postmodernist Charles Olson. Then, there were her fellow students: John Chamberlain, Twombly and Rauschenberg.

“Bob whispered in my ear, I have a car,” she recalled. “We three became thick, and fast friends.”

Photo

Contact cement & chip board tests for her installation “Domain of The Variable,” one of many made over months to recreate the 1972 work. Credit 2018 Dorothea Rockburne/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York; Nathan Bajar for The New York Times

Yet, she has always acknowledged that she is most indebted to her mathematics professor, the German émigré Max Dehn. She admired Dehn’s “lively, disciplined but fearless mind. His enthusiasm for everything was infectious.”

“When I told him that I was having difficulties with assignments,” she explained, “he said, ‘What you need is to understand the principles of math as they occur in nature.’” Consequently, he invited her to join him on his 7 a.m. hikes. Her fate was sealed.

In 1954, Ms. Rockburne arrived in New York with her husband, Carroll Warner Williams, an instructor she had met at Black Mountain, and their 2-year-old daughter, Christine. The marriage didn’t work out; and in 1958, she moved with her daughter from a cold water flat in the East 80s to a loft on Chambers Street.

Photo

The artist is still pushing materials to the edge; here, grease tests on paper. Credit 2018 Dorothea Rockburne/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York; Nathan Bajar for The New York Times

Now she was hanging out with future Pop artists and Minimalists (Claes Oldenburg, Carl Andre, Robert Morris). The sculptor Mark di Suvero built a big swing in the backyard where her daughter played.

In the morning, Ms. Rockburne, a single mother, would bring her daughter uptown to school at Dalton. She’d paint from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. To cover expenses, she held a series of day jobs, including one as a waitress, and another as a “girl Friday” for Rauschenberg. When she grew disappointed with the art she was making, she took a break. Ms. Rockburne joined the now legendary Judson Dance Theater.

“They were young and revolutionary and wanted to change the world,” Ms. Rockburne said during a dinner in SoHo. “They had a huge influence on me; and I realized why I was dissatisfied. In the middle of a performance, I suddenly saw what I wanted to do. I never danced again.”

Photo

Detail from chip board tests for “Domain of The Variable.” The artist’s raw materials are variable and sometimes ephemeral, including crude oil, which is no longer used. Credit 2018 Dorothea Rockburne/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York; Nathan Bajar for The New York Times

She began making the art that secured her reputation. Initially, Ms. Rockburne was inspired by set theory, a branch of mathematical logic. “Tropical Tan” (1967-68), named for a color of paint, and also for human tan skin, is the earliest work on view at Dia: Beacon. Four 8-foot-tall steel panels resting side-by-side were covered with wrinkle finish paint, which created a subtle texture on the smooth metal.

“Set,” a refined beauty, has also been newly rendered, now taller than ever, partly because of the high ceilings at the former Nabisco plant that serves as Dia’s home.

“Variable” is an astonishing introduction to Ms. Rockburne’s radicality during the early 1970s. The two-part installation encompasses an entire room. One section involves various pieces of paper and board covered with red grease, adding a striking color note. Paper board glued to the wall and then stripped off like a Band-Aid leaves vibrant traces of a rupture. A long line carved into the wall between the two pieces, provides a deep shadow.

The overall impact is “a controlled chaos,” said Courtney J. Martin, the deputy director and chief curator of Dia. “The grease could have run; the wall could have been pulled apart, And yet neither of those things happened.” This work, she added, “always deserved more attention than it received.”

Jessica Morgan, Dia’s director, pointed out that Ms. Rockburne’s practice encompasses “both a rigor of thinking with an equally exacting desire to create sensuality in the work.” She added, “It remains radically surprising in its form, material, process and conceptual underpinning.”

With the Dia installation completed, Ms. Rockburne was asked what it was like to be young and idealistic during the ’60s. Without missing a beat, she replied, “I am young and idealistic.”

Continue reading the main story

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24 Art Exhibitions to View in NYC This Weekend

‘THE JIM HENSON EXHIBITION’ at the Museum of the Moving Image. The rainbow connection has been established in Astoria, Queens, where this museum has opened a new permanent wing devoted to the career of America’s great puppeteer, who was born in Mississippi in 1936 and died, too young, in 1990. Henson began presenting the short TV program “Sam and Friends” before he was out of his teens; one of its characters, the soft-faced Kermit, was fashioned from his mother’s old coat and would not mature into a frog for more than a decade. The influence of early variety television, with its succession of skits and songs, runs through “Sesame Street” and “The Muppet Show,” though Henson also spent the late 1960s crafting peace-and-love documentaries and prototyping a psychedelic nightclub. Young visitors will delight in seeing Big Bird, Elmo, Miss Piggy and the Swedish Chef; adults can dig deep into sketches and story boards and rediscover some old friends. (Farago)
718-784-0077, movingimage.us

‘PETER HUJAR: SPEED OF LIFE’ at the Morgan Library and Museum (through May 20). It’s hard to say which is more surprising: that Peter Hujar’s photographs of underground life in New York in the 1970s and ’80s have found their way to the Morgan Library and Museum, or that the classically minded institution has become unbuttoned enough to exhibit them in this heartbreaker of a show. Hujar (1934-87) lived most of his professional life in the East Village and, through studio portraits and cityscapes, captured a downtown that has since been all but erased by time, gentrification and AIDS. Although he was little known by the mainstream art world in his lifetime, this show, startlingly tender, reveals him to be one of the major American photographers of the late 20th century. (Holland Cotter)
212-685-0008, themorgan.org

‘THE INCOMPLETE ARAKI’ at the Museum of Sex (through Aug. 31). It remains a bit of a tourist trap, but the for-profit Museum of Sex is making its most serious bid yet for artistic credibility with a two-floor exhibition of Japan’s most prominent and controversial photographer. Nobuyoshi Araki has spent decades shooting Tokyo streetscapes, blossoming flowers and, notably, women trussed up in the baroque rope bondage technique known as kinbaku-bi, or “the beauty of tight binding.” Given the venue, it’s natural that this show concentrates on the erotic side of his art, but less lustful visitors can discover an ambitious cross section of Mr. Araki’s omnivorous photography, including his lastingly moving “Sentimental Journey,” picturing his beloved wife, Yoko, from honeymoon to funeral. (Farago)
212-689-6337, museumofsex.com

‘ZOE LEONARD: SURVEY’ at the Whitney Museum of American Art (through June 10). Some shows cast a spell. Zoe Leonard’s reverberant retrospective does. Physically ultra-austere, all white walls with a fiercely edited selection of objects — photographs of clouds taken from airplane windows; a mural collaged from vintage postcards; a scattering of empty fruit skins, each stitched closed with needle and thread — it’s an extended essay about travel, time passing, political passion and the ineffable daily beauty of the world. (Cotter)
212-570-3600, whitney.org

‘LIKE LIFE: SCULPTURE, COLOR AND THE BODY (1300 TO NOW)’ at the Met Breuer (through July 22). Taking a second run at the splashy theme-show extravaganza, the Met Breuer has greater success. This one is certainly more coherent since it centers entirely on the body and its role in art, science, religion and entertainment. It gathers together some 120 sculptures, dolls, artist’s dummies, effigies, crucifixes and automatons. Many are rarely lent and may not return any time soon. (Roberta Smith)
212-731-1675, metmuseum.org

‘THE LONG RUN’ at the Museum of Modern Art (through Nov. 4). The museum upends its cherished Modern narrative of ceaseless progress by mostly young (white) men. Instead we see works by artists 45 and older who have just kept on keeping on, regardless of attention or reward, sometimes saving the best for last. Art here is an older person’s game, a pursuit of a deepening personal vision over innovation. Winding through 17 galleries, the installation is alternatively visually or thematically acute and altogether inspiring. (Smith)
212-708-9400, moma.org

‘SALLY MANN: A THOUSAND CROSSINGS’ at the National Gallery of Art, Washington (through May 28). All of this photographer’s strengths are on view in this deftly chosen and admirably displayed exhibition that covers most of her 40-plus-year career. The 108 images here (47 of which have never been exhibited before) provide a provocative tour through Ms. Mann’s accomplishments and serve as a record of exploration — into the past, into this country’s and photography’s history, stamped with a powerful vision. (Vicki Goldberg)
202-737-4215, nga.gov

‘THE METROPOLIS IN LATIN AMERICA, 1830-1930’ at Americas Society (through June 30). Fans of Latin American architecture are overly besotted with the modernist era: Luis Barragán’s color-saturated houses in Mexico City, Oscar Niemeyer’s cutting-edge presidential palace in Brasília. But this eye-opening show turns the clock back 100 years and shows how six cities — Buenos Aires; Havana; Lima, Peru; Mexico City; Rio de Janeiro; and Santiago, Chile — used architecture and urban design to express new national ambitions. Vintage photographs disclose how in Mexico’s sprawling capital its new republican government erected statues of Cuauhtémoc, the last Aztec emperor, while Argentina plowed out lordly avenues in imitation of Haussmann-era Paris. All these cities had keen architectural ambitions, though if you have to pick the most sophisticated, it’s Rio in a landslide. Stare at Marc Ferrez’s jaw-dropping 1895 panoramic photograph of the erstwhile Brazilian capital, with Sugarloaf Mountain looming over Botafogo and Flamengo, and book the next flight. (Farago)
212-249-8950, as-coa.org

‘MILLENNIUM: LOWER MANHATTAN IN THE 1990S’ at the Skyscraper Museum (through June 24). This plucky Battery Park institution transports us back to the years of Rudy Giuliani, Lauryn Hill and 128-kilobit modems to reveal the enduring urban legacy of a decade bookended by recession and terror. In the wake of the 1987 stock market crash, landlords in the financial district rezoned their old skyscrapers for residential occupancy, and more than 20 towers were declared landmarks, including the ornate Standard Oil building at 26 Broadway and the home of Delmonico’s at 56 Beaver Street. Battery Park City flowered; yuppies priced out of TriBeCa came down to Wall Street; a new Guggenheim, designed by a fresh-from-Bilbao Frank Gehry, nearly arose by South Street Seaport. From this distance, the 1990s can seem almost like a golden age, not least given that, more than 16 years after Sept. 11, construction at the underwhelming new World Trade Center is still not finished. (Farago)
skyscraper.org

‘REBEL SPIRITS: ROBERT F. KENNEDY AND MARTIN LUTHER KING JR.’ at the New-York Historical Society (through May 20). Featuring stark black-and-white photographs of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy, as well as faded ephemera that memorialized them, this exhibition reveals the various ways in which the lives of these two influential figures were juxtaposed. It also traces the circuitous routes that belatedly pointed Kennedy toward the more incendiary goals King set first regarding civil rights, poverty and the Vietnam War. (Sam Roberts)
212-873-3400, nyhistory.org

‘ALBERTO SAVINIO’ at the Center for Italian Modern Art (through June 23). The paintings of this Italian polymath have long been overshadowed by the brilliant work of his older brother, Giorgio de Chirico. This show of more than 20 canvases from the late 1920s to the mid-30s may not change that, but the mix of landscapes with bright patterns and several eerie portraits based on family photographs are surprisingly of the moment. (Smith)
646-370-3596, italianmodernart.org

‘SCENES FROM THE COLLECTION’ at the Jewish Museum. After a surgical renovation to its grand pile on Fifth Avenue, the Jewish Museum has reopened its third-floor galleries with a rethought, refreshed display of its permanent collection, which intermingles 4,000 years of Judaica with modern and contemporary art by Jews and gentiles alike — Mark Rothko, Lee Krasner, Nan Goldin, Cindy Sherman and the excellent young Nigerian draftswoman Ruby Onyinyechi Amanze. The works are shown in a nimble, nonchronological suite of galleries, and some of its century-spanning juxtapositions are bracing; others feel reductive, even dilletantish. But always, the Jewish Museum conceives of art and religion as interlocking elements of a story of civilization, commendably open to new influences and new interpretations. (Farago)
212-423-3200, thejewishmuseum.org

‘THE SENSES: DESIGN BEYOND VISION’ at the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum (through Oct. 28). There’s a serious, timely big idea at this exhibition: As social media, smartphones and virtual reality make us ever more “ocularcentric,” we have taken leave of our nonvisual senses — and need to get back in touch, literally. Thus “The Senses” features multisensory adventures such as a portable-speaker-size contraption that emits odors, with titles like “Surfside” and “Einstein,” in timed combinations; hand-painted scratch-and-sniff wallpaper (think Warhol’s patterned cows but with cherries — cherry-scented, naturally); and a device that projects ultrasonic sound waves to simulate the touch and feel of virtual objects. The show also presents commissions, videos, products and prototypes from more than 65 designers and teams, some of which address sensory disabilities like blindness and deafness, including Vibeat, which can be worn as a bracelet, brooch or necklace and translates music into vibrations. And if you bring the kids, they will likely bliss out stroking a wavy, fur-lined installation that makes music as you rub it. (Michael Kimmelman)
212-849-8400, cooperhewitt.org

‘STEPHEN SHORE’ at the Museum of Modern Art (through May 28). Not staged, not lit, not cropped, not retouched, the color photographs of this American master are feats of dispassionate representation. This must-see retrospective — curated with real wit by Quentin Bajac, MoMA’s photo chief — opens with Mr. Shore’s teenage snaps at Andy Warhol’s Factory. Then it turns to the road-trip imagery of “American Surfaces” and the steely precision of “Uncommon Places” — landmarks in photographic history that scandalized an establishment convinced the camera could find beauty solely in black-and-white. Mr. Shore is revealed not only as a peripatetic explorer but also a restless experimenter with new photographic technologies, from stereoscopic slide shows to print-on-demand books. The only flaw is his recent embrace of Instagram, allowing museumgoers to lazily flick through images on MoMA’s smudged iPads. New technologies are great, but not at the expense of concentration. (Farago)
212-708-9400, moma.org

‘2018 TRIENNIAL: SONGS FOR SABOTAGE’ at the New Museum (through May 27). This Bowery museum’s fourth triennial exhibition, “Songs for Sabotage,” is the smallest, tightest edition of the show so far. Immaculately installed, it’s also the best looking. There’s a lot of good work, which is global in scope and not by a list of prevetted up-and-comers. (Zhenya Machneva, Dalton Paula and Daniela Ortiz are artists to look for.) Less admirably, it’s a safe and unchallenging show. Despite a politically demanding time, it acts as if ambiguity and discretion were automatically virtues. In an era when the market rules, it puts its money on the kind of art — easily tradable, displayable, palette-tickling objects — that art fairs suck up. (Cotter)
212-219-1222, newmuseum.org

GRANT WOOD: AMERICAN GOTHIC AND OTHER FABLES’ at the Whitney Museum of American Art (through June 10). This well-done survey begins with the American Regionalist’s little-known efforts as an Arts and Crafts designer and touches just about every base. It includes his mural studies, book illustrations and most of his best-known paintings — including “American Gothic” and “The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere.” Best of all are Wood’s smooth undulant landscapes with their plowmen and spongy trees and infectious serenity. (Smith)
212-570-3600, whitney.org

Last Chance

‘THOMAS COLE’S JOURNEY: ATLANTIC CROSSING’ at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (through May 13). The Met’s exhibition of the nation’s first major landscape artist and progenitor of what would be called the Hudson River School is gorgeous, politically right for right now and a lesson in the mutability of art history. Politically, Cole’s art is conservative, but it’s also work that challenges and complicates that term. And this show is precisely about complication. Just as Cole is most realistically and revealingly seen and judged against the background of his time, so is the exhibition, coming as it does in this confounding MAGA moment. (Cotter)
212-535-7710, metmuseum.org

‘OUTLIERS AND AMERICAN VANGUARD ART’ at the National Gallery of Art, Washington (through May 13). Tracing the interaction of taught and untaught artists over the past century, this exhibition tackles an impossibly immense subject and starts stronger than it finishes. But it presents quantities of stunning art in all mediums, revealing the vastness of American creativity and the many attempts by museums to do it justice. It proves more forcefully than ever that the distinction between the works of the self-taught and that of the professionals has outlived its usefulness. (Smith)
202-737-4215, nga.gov

‘DAHN VO: TAKE MY BREATH AWAY’ at the Guggenheim Museum (through May 9). This is the first museum survey of the Vietnam-born Danish artist, who draws his art from his life and the history he has lived through, recycling family mementos, found letters and artifacts, as well as random materials, into a very spare, poetic and astute study of power, colonialism, and the lives of refugees and of objects. The Guggenheim’s rotunda looks nearly empty at times, and there are lots of labels to read, but it is ultimately worth it. (Smith)
212-423-3500, guggenheim.org

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