On View Now: Paul McCartney, Ilana Savdie, Brigid Berlin and More

From a never-before-seen side of Paul McCartney to work by the self-proclaimed inventor of the selfie, there's a lot to see midsummer.

While we’re entering a sleepy season for galleries at this point in the summer, museums across the globe are coming through with a little something for everyone. For the musically inclined, London’s newly reopened National Portrait Gallery is showcasing a never-before-seen side of Paul McCartney while Antwerp’s MoMU has fashionistas covered with a look back at Man Ray’s connections to couturiers such as Chanel and Schiaparelli. Here we offer up more on those and other exhibitions not to be missed in the weeks to come.

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Paul McCartney, Photographs 1963-64: Eyes of the Storm at the National Portrait Gallery

Paul McCartney, ‘Self-portraits in a mirror’, Paris, 1964. © 1964 Paul McCartney.

What was it like to be at the ultra-chaotic epicenter of Beatlemania? Paul McCartney has unearthed a trove of never-before-seen photographs he took at its height to give you an inkling. On view at London’s National Portrait Gallery through October 1, the 250-plus images span from December 1963 to February 1964, culminating with the trip to the U.S. that saw the Beatles draw a record 73 million viewers to the Ed Sullivan Show. Scenes include fans racing down the middle of the Midtown streets to catch a glimpse of the group and a number of behind-the-scenes mirror selfies.

Ilana Savdie: Radical Contractions at the Whitney

A colorful abstract painting.
Ilana Savdie, ‘Anquilosis’, 2023. Collection of the artist; courtesy Kohn Gallery, Los Angeles and White Cube, London. Photograph by Lance Brewer.

Ilana Savdie recently dedicated months to creating a suite of new large-scale paintings for the Whitney Museum, whose free lobby gallery plays host to her solo institutional debut through late October. Per usual, they have an electrifyingly vibrant palette—and in this case, belie themes that are strikingly dark. The artist’s latest dreamscapes—perhaps hellscapes is more apt—are a reflection on the attacks on civil rights the U.S. has seen over the past year, from anti-LGBTQIA+ legislation to the overturning of Roe v. Wade. Hanging on a wall covered in parasites, a longtime inspiration for Savdie, similarly unsettling black-and-white drawings testify to the artist’s skill beyond the palette.

Man Ray and Fashion at MoMU

Man Ray and Fashion
Left: Olivier Theyskens, ‘Spring-Summer’, 1999. Right: Man Ray, ‘La Chevelure’, 1927. © MoMu, photo: Julien Claessens & Thomas Deschamps / Private collection

Man Ray is so associated with Surrealism and Dada that his impact on fashion is often forgotten. Leave it to Antwerp—noted incubator for the industry’s avant-garde—to bring it back to the forefront. In an exhibition on view through August 13, the Belgian city’s fashion museum MoMU showcases Ray’s photography for couturiers including Coco Chanel and Elsa Schiaparelli and magazines such as Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar. Proving Ray’s influence has long extended beyond the lens, contemporary designs inspired by the images on view (courtesy of Dries Van Noten, Martin Margiela, Yves Saint Laurent and many more) are also on display.

Elle Pérez: Intimacies at MASS MoCA 

A black and white portrait of the back of a giraffe's head.
Elle Pérez, ‘animal’, 2019/2021. Courtesy of the artist and 47 Canal, New York.

Elle Pérez thinks of their portraiture as a collaboration—and it’s through this core approach of first connecting with and establishing a sense of trust with their subjects that they’ve become a master of encapsulating the word “intimate.” Their level of care even comes across in their photographs of animals and nature, which are among those newly on display at MASS MoCA. Fittingly titled Intimacies, the show illustrates how Pérez has spent the past five years building connections through photos and video.

Chloe Wise: Natural Causes at The Ranch  

“A cool hack for covering up a facial injury from a dog mauling is to make a whole show of paintings that include animal masks, and then, to wear one of those very masks over the face wound.” So began the Instagram caption that a dog-nosed Chloe Wise recently posted to promote her new show at the longest running cattle ranch in the U.S. (on view through August 10). Wise has long examined self presentation and transformation, making it no surprise that the portraits of child models from Halloween costume websites and real-life friends partially emulating not just dogs, but also pigs, elephants and ducks, precede the Canadian artist’s injury. In addition, keeping with Wise’s practice, the works on display also involve food. Make sure to look up for a sculpture aptly titled Lettuce Chandelier. 

Brigid Berlin: The Heaviest at Vito Schnabel Gallery

For Vito Schnabel, noted curator Alison M. Gingeras has assembled a comprehensive—and long overdue—look back at the life and work of Brigid Berlin. The singular bohemian had enormous influence on Andy Warhol, down to his use of the Polaroid camera and tape recorder. But as the exhibition (on view through August 18) makes clear, Berlin is a figure worth examining in her own right. The daughter of the CEO of Hearst and a New York City socialite could have easily embraced glamour; instead, she hung out with the downtown crowd and had a habit of using her breasts as a paintbrush. She was ahead of her time in asserting body positivity and sexual agency—and in taking selfies. In fact, Berlin (who died in 2020) claimed to have invented them.

On View Now: Paul McCartney, Ilana Savdie, Brigid Berlin and More