Between Frieze, NADA, Spring/Break, the Independent, etc., you may think that it’s all about the art fairs in New York this week. But galleries never neglect to capitalize on the influx of audience—and the collectors in town for the major auctions at Sotheby’s and Christie’s. In fact, don’t be surprised if the longest lineup of art lovers is winding outside David Zwirner’s largest Yayoi Kusama showcase yet. In New York and beyond, here are the shows that should be at the top of your must-see list.
That ‘70s Show at Eric Firestone Gallery
New York City
Twenty-one New York galleries are presenting an alternative to Frieze in the form of a throwback exhibition well worth the 20-minute trip from the mega-fair. Anton Kern, Bortolami, PPOW, R & Company, Venus Over Manhattan, and Kasmin are just a handful of those contributing ‘70s-era works to the group showing, which its organizer, Eric Firestone, is hosting at his loft space on Great Jones Street. You’d think they’d want to make the most of all that organizational effort, but this ‘70s show won’t be back for reruns. It’s on view from May 18 through 21, then it’s gone.
Alexandre Diop at Jeffrey Deitch
New York City
In the dozen years since Miami’s Rubell Museum began its artist residency program with Sterling Ruby, its participants have had a track record of going far. The latest, Alexandre Diop, seems poised to follow in their footsteps. After honing his assemblage painting skills in Florida, where he continued to explore the impacts of colonialism and diaspora, the Franco-Senegalese artist landed a mentorship under Kehinde Wiley through the esteemed Reifferts Art Initiatives program. Now, he’s Jeffrey Deitch’s pick for Frieze season in New York City. Titled Hood Rich, Diop’s first solo exhibition with the gallery (which runs through June 30) is an investigation of a term Diop defines thusly: “‘you made it,’ but it also connotates a remaining in the hood, albeit not geographically, but rather in terms of values and belief systems.”
Vivienne Westwood Corsets: 1987 to Present Day
Someday, the Met’s Costume Institute will mount a blockbuster showcase of Vivienne Westwood’s enormous impact. Until then, we have smaller exhibitions like the label’s contribution to London Craft Week foreshadowing just how mindblowing it will be. The late British iconoclast broke ground when she began approaching underwear as outerwear in the 80s—and in doing so, somehow managed to make the corset punk. Her many takes on the undergarment over the decades—spanning up to her last collection before her death in December—are on view at Vivienne Westwood’s flagship boutique on Conduit Street through May 21.
Misha Japanwala at Hannah Traore Gallery
New York City
Before Misha Japanwala opened her new solo exhibition at the Lower East Side’s Hannah Traore Gallery, she worried that it featured too many nipples. Understandably, but unnecessarily—the mammary overload is a large part of what makes it a must-see. The Pakistani artist went to great lengths to capture the femme and LGBTQ people who live in her hometown of Karachi, where she recently returned for several months to make 70 individual and anonymized body castings. Altogether, Beghairati Ki Nishaani: Traces of Shamelessness (which runs through July 30) is a collective portrait of those who reject a culture of shame at their most intimate.
Van Gogh in Auvers. His Final Months at the Van Gogh Museum
Few artists are so popular that they can have three major exhibitions opening in three major cities in the same month. Vincent Van Gogh is one of the few who falls into that category, and while the Met and the Art Institute of Chicago are hosting the most conveniently located shows for American fans, the late painter’s namesake museum makes a convincing case for taking an art trip to Amsterdam with their latest major exhibition. The show, which is on view through September 3, features more than two-thirds of the 74 works he painted over the course of his three-month stay in the French village of Auvers-sur-Oise, which ended up being the final three months of his life. Prefer a trip to Paris? Wait until October, when the show will get a second life at the Musée d’Orsay.
Joan Brown at Matthew Marks Gallery
New York City
As is the case with so many artists who are women, it’s unfortunate that Joan Brown isn’t around to witness her posthumous rise in popularity. With several paintings from the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art’s recent hit retrospective of the late autobiographical painter, Matthew Marks’s first solo exhibition of Brown’s work showcases why she was so beloved within the Bay Area art scene. Facts & Fantasies, which also includes drawings and sculptures spanning 1971 to 1986 and runs through June 17, blends characteristically intimate snapshots of Brown’s life with the travels she imagined throughout it. From here, her legacy will continue to travel across the East Coast when the SFMOMA show reopens at Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Art Museum later this month.
Secondary at Matthew Barney’s Studio
New York City
The impact that Matthew Barney’s early experience as a football player has had on his practice is more explicit than ever in Secondary, a five-channel video installation filmed and staged at his Long Island City studio. With the 1978 collision that left Darryl Stingley, a wide receiver for the New England Patriots, paralyzed as its point of departure, the hour-long footage is a timely examination of the degree to which violence and spectacle are intertwined with the sport—and American culture at large. Catch it before June 25.