10 Art Shows to See in New York This April

There’s so much art worth seeing in New York right now that you could easily while your days away at galleries and museums. From Audrey Flack’s maximalist visions of Hollywood and history to Sonya Clark’s deconstruction of the Confederate flag to Fred Schmidt-Arenales’s melding of fact and faction in a Texas water project, the shows below are some of our favorites. A few of these shows end soon so make sure to check them out while you still can. You won’t want to miss the weird and wonderful paintings of Tom Burckhardt or Mike Olin, or the spectacular starburst made of crutches by Jeffrey Meris. —Natalie Haddad, Reviews Editor

Tom Burckhardt, “Shabby Lingo” (2023), oil on linen, 70 by 60 inches (image courtesy George Adams Gallery)

Tom Burckhardt: Ulterior Motif

One of the interesting things about Tom Burckhardt is that he remains unclassifiable, even several years into his career. He has made trompe l’oeil installations of an artist’s studio and other environments completely out of cardboard and black paint; reworked and painted secondhand books and pages; and created abstract paintings on molded plastic forms with uneven surfaces and edges. He has moved between figuration and abstraction with an ice skater’s grace, seemingly driven by the materials he has at hand. For his latest body of work, he used rolls of canvas and tubes of premixed paint he found in the studio of his mother, artist Yvonne Jacquette, after she passed away. Long interested in pareidolia, which is the guiding principle of Rorschach ink blot tests, and the imagination’s desire to reshape abstract images into familiar ones, Burckhardt’s past works are mostly in portrait-sized formats. Working on a large scale, the best of his new paintings, go beyond the border between abstraction and figuration. Through form and line, flat areas and shading, he summons weirdly lit worlds. —John Yau

George Adams Gallery (georgeadamsgallery.com)
38 Walker Street, Tribeca, Manhattan
Through April 6

And ever an edge: Studio Museum Artists in Residence 2022–23

It’s your last chance to catch these one-room presentations of work by artists Jeffrey Meris, Devin N. Morris, and Charisse Pearlina Weston. All three take advantage of the white-box space to show us their art, and it’s worth a look. Charlene Pearlina Weston examines anti-Blackness in her predominantly glass sculptures, Jeffrey Meris considers the body through metaphors found in objects, while Devin N. Morris plays with domestic spaces and notions of privacy, nature, and home. Can’t wait to see what they do next. —Hrag Vartanian

MoMA PS1 (momaps1.org)
22–25 Jackson Avenue, Long Island City, Queens
Through April 8

Mike Olin: Paintings

I’ve been looking at Mike Olin’s paintings for ages — yup, even before we started Hyperallergic — and he continues to push them in new directions that can feel cosmic and spontaneous, while fully engaged in the history of abstract painting. His large “Rough Diamond” (2024) in the back gallery shows what he can do when he relies less on detritus and condenses his work into a more unified whole, while smaller works like “Open Shutter” (2022) radiate the energy that comes from the eclectic materials that invigorate his surfaces. 

The first time I saw Olin’s paintings it must’ve been in his Bushwick loft, where he transformed the world around him into his colorful planes. Now, 20 years later, it’s amazing to see him refine that skill while continuing to assimilate the world into new and interesting patterns, textures, and colors. Each work is a multiverse all its own. —HV

Peninsula Art Space (peninsulaartspace.com)
13 Monroe Street, Lower East Side, Manhattan
Through April 14

Raven Chacon: A Worm’s Eye View from a Bird’s Beak

This exhibition is a welcome window into Raven Chacon’s recent bodies of work, but I want to focus your attention on the single-channel video “The Report” (2015), which was also part of the Musical Thinking: New Video Art and Sonic Strategies exhibition at the Smithsonian American Art Museum earlier this year. While the installation in DC allowed you to immerse yourself fully in the work, here the sound bleeds into the other galleries and gives the piece a more ominous tone, changing it in a way I wasn’t expecting. The artwork combines ideas around safety, sovereignty, violence, communal action, cultural production, and so much more, while contextualizing the work with other notation and sound-based pieces. Last chance! —HV

Swiss Institute (swissinstitute.net)
38 St. Marks Place, East Village, Manhattan
Through April 14

Xinan Ran: Crumbs and Lather

Xinan Ran asked her friends to give her their remnants of bar soap and she transformed these curious forms, which resemble water-worn pebbles or stones, into a small show of sculptures that are strangely inviting. While “cleaning” and “routine” might be the first ideas that are evoked by the small wire-clad works, they also represent an overlooked type of mark-making and even identity — people’s soap choices can be very telling. Xinan’s interest in the mundane has created a beautiful little display that asks us to look again at what we do on a daily basis. —HV

Essex Flowers Gallery (essexflowers.us)
19 Monroe Street, Lower East Side, Manhattan
Through April 14

Audrey Flack: With Darkness Comes Stars

Artist Audrey Flack is 92 years old and her art continues to feel as fresh and experimental as ever, often poking her finger in your eye as she wrestles with varied materials.

This exhibition comprises art from the last three years. In “Self Portrait with Flaming Heart” (2022), Flack paints herself as the Virgin Mary — “we’re both Jewish women,” she explained to me of the work when I ran into her this past weekend at the gallery giving a tour to friends and colleagues. The resulting painting, in which she wears a beloved Jackson Pollock scarf, radiates from the wall as she visually reconciles her love of pop culture with her affinity for the Catholic Baroque, especially the Spanish variety.

In another painting, “Rex Judeus” (2023), she renders Jesus Christ into a more contemporary-looking figure tied to recent Jewish history (an image of the Holocaust is included), while other fictional figures with Jewish heritage, like Magneto, also figure prominently. The imagery demonstrates the complexity and layers of her meditations on Jewishness, which never fall into stereotype, but also shy away from being direct.

The real source of the exhibition’s energy is what appears to be a battle between the rich heritage of Catholic style and iconography and the Hollywood versions of the same Bible stories. Elizabeth Taylor as Cleopatra may have been a box office flop, but here she reigns eternal, while Charleton Heston as Moses influenced a generation of people thinking of the Patriarch, but here he competes with Hokusai’s Great Wave in a lively retelling. In Flack’s imagination, she opens Pandora’s box and allows the unusual contents to manifest themselves visually.

Pro tip: Make sure not to miss the sculptures in the smaller gallery, where she beheads Holofernes (you can tell she found it cathartic), and updates what feels like 19th-century sculptural forms in her unique maximalist way. —HV

Hollis Taggart Gallery (hollistaggart.com)
521 West 26th Street, First Floor, Chelsea, Manhattan
Through April 20

NOZKOWSKI installation v58
Installation view of Thomas Nozkowski: Everything in the World at Pace Gallery (image courtesy Pace Gallery)

Thomas Nozkowski: Everything in the World

Thomas Nozkowski was at the height of his powers when he died in 2019, as the 15 works in the 2021 exhibition The Last Paintings at Pace Gallery ably proved. Starting his career in the early 1970s, at a time when Minimalism was dominant, and large-scale paintings were the rage, he decided in 1974 to work on 16-by-20-inch prepared canvas board and always base his work on a personal experience. This thoughtful rejection of the prevailing orthodoxies, assumptions, and tastes resulted in one of the most influential bodies of painting to be made in the United States during the past 50 years. In Everything in the World, we see his beginnings as an artist, when he made his decision to go, as poet Frank O’Hara would have said, “on his nerve alone.” Three painted conical sculptures from 1979 and four large, previously unexhibited paintings, about which I believe the artist harbored strong reservations, round out the show. Beginning with an abstracted waterfall, a motif to which he kept returning, Nozkowski moved increasingly into a territory where the connection between subject and paint dissipated. This is where his inimitable paintings begin to transport us. —JY

Pace Gallery (pacegallery.com)
540 West 25th Street, Chelsea, Manhattan
Through April 20


Playing across three projection screens set at oblique angles to each other, Fred Schmidt-Arenales’s film IT IS A GOOD PROJECT AND SHOULD BE BUILT sheds light on the Texas Coastal Barrier Project, also known as the Ike Dike, a proposed and controversial water infrastructure project in Texas’s Galveston Bay designed to protect against hurricanes but also likely to harm the local ecosystem. What starts as an apparent documentary becomes a mix of both fiction and nonfiction; at one point, we transition from actual bureaucratic proceedings into fully performed and imagined ones. Some of the actors in the latter subsequently reappear in a surreal nighttime performance along the water. The first in the Storefront for Art and Architecture’s year-long series Swamplands, which addresses contemporary relationships with water in Louisiana, Yucatán, and Texas, the film reminds us that our relationship to land and water is much more than a logistical project — it is something sacred. —AX Mina

Storefront for Art and Architecture (storefront news.org)
97 Kenmare Street, Nolita, Manhattan
Through June 1

Auriea Harvey: My Veins Are the Wires, My Body Is Your Keyboard

Don’t walk, but run to see this immersive survey of art by digital artist and sculptor Auriea Harvey at an institution that seems well-suited to her multimedia sensibilities. Any child of the early internet will relish seeing the aesthetics of the World Wide Web on display as its achingly beautiful 8-bit-ness and flat color evoke a bygone era when the internet was still considered a portal to liberation — good times.

Curator Regina Harsanyi has created a series of experiences that help organize the exhibition while allowing other artists to enter the show at various touch points that bring Harvey’s work in dialogue with larger issues and collaborations. While the beginning of the exhibition is a little confusing — partly because of the gallery space, I believe — by the end visitors can grasp the full extent of her creativity. And the show makes a strong case that Harvey is actually at the peak of her artistic powers with her more recent sculptures incorporating 3D imagery. Where Harvey really stands out is in the emotional depth of her work, which is sadly atypical of early net art. Her art continues to speak across decades and foreshadows the social media revolution that was to come. Harvey did it first. Highly recommended. —HV

Museum of the Moving Image (movingimage.org)
36–01 35 Avenue, Astoria, Queens
Through July 7

Sonya Clark: We Are Each Other

Sonya Clark’s “Monumental” (2019) project about the actual flag of surrender used by Confederate forces is truly inspired. As Jasmine Weber wrote back in 2019 about the way the work is slowly shifting ideas around the history of the Confederate flag, “Instead of bold stars, the truce flag is made up of hundreds of tiny squares and a few slim stripes, but their conceptual message is just as powerful. ‘Those three stripes mean everything,’ Clark says. Though the truce flag is subtle, its message is just as strong … Clark is utilizing the flag in an attempt to further clean up the history of continued racism which followed.”

Here the flag presentation includes “Lesson Plan (Confederate Truce Flag)” (2019) and “Many” (2019), both of which reproduce the original Confederate truce flag in various ways, deflating the heroism in a way that makes it feel less pointed. Other works deconstruct the Confederate battle flag also on display. These are some of her best-known projects, and there’s something very satisfying in watching the image of treason slowly come apart. But that’s not all. This two-floor show is a fantastic primer on an artist you should know about. —HV

Museum of Arts and Design (madmuseum.org)
2 Columbus Circle, Midtown, Manhattan
Through September 22

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