For Your Society

Summer Art Preview

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In 1955, the Guggenheim held the first-ever museum exhibition of the Swiss artist Alberto Giacometti, installed in a temporary location while its Frank Lloyd Wright building was under construction. Nineteen years later, it mounted a posthumous, full-dress retrospective of the painter and sculptor, by then recognized as a titan of modernism, both for his early, brutal Surrealist works and, especially, for his later attenuated figures in plaster and bronze, works of such bare-bones intensity that his friend Jean-Paul Sartre once wrote that “to sculpt, for him, is to take the fat off space.” This summer, a hundred and seventy-five sculptures, paintings, and drawings by Giacometti will once again grace the museum’s rotunda. (Opens June 8.)

A smaller, but still vital, exhibition at MOMA spotlights the great Romanian sculptor Constantin Brancusi, who was twenty-five years older than Giacometti and a strong influence on his development. Indeed, it’s impossible to imagine the course of art in the twentieth century without Brancusi’s vision, in which the known world—fish, birds, a newborn baby—is compressed to its essence in objects of stone, brass, and wood. Eleven sculptures are accompanied by drawings, photographs, and archival material. (Opens July 22.) But the big news at MOMA this summer is the retrospective of Bodys Isek Kingelez, the Congolese sculptor who died in 2015, at the age of sixty-seven. Kingelez was working as a museum conservator in Kinshasha when he began to construct intricate, candy-colored models of fantasy buildings—and, later, cities—out of paper, soda cans, bottle caps, packaging, and plastic. His hope, according to the show’s curator, Sarah Suzuki, was to inspire people to imagine “a more harmonious, peaceful, beautiful, lively world.” (Opens May 26.)

Bill Cunningham, the beloved style photographer for the Times, who died in 2016, was just as captivated by a chic person shopping for vegetables at the Union Square greenmarket as he was by a society swan in haute couture at a gala. The New-York Historical Society celebrates his long career in a show that includes hats from his days as a milliner (under the moniker William J), selections from the series “Façades” (devoted to the city’s architecture), pictures documenting his long friendship with the floral designer Suzette, and such memorabilia as a bicycle, a camera, and Cunningham’s signature blue French workman’s jacket. (Opens June 8.)

New York inspired both a ferocious beauty and an urgent activism in the paintings, photographs, films, writings, and performances


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