Deborah Turbeville Collages at Deborah Bell

For the followers of art and design May in New York is a busy month. There are art fairs, design fairs, the Met fashion exhibit, and a myriad of events. Before long, the entire thing starts resembling your social media feeds – colorful, bubbly, but ultimately quite tiring and unfulfilling. You long for a quiet corner of the world where your brain can get back into a contemplative mood. The new exhibit of Deborah Turbeville’s photography at Deborah Bell’s gallery on the Upper East Side is just the ticket. It is an intimate show of intimate photography in an intimate setting. By god, it is restful!

Paolo Roversi at the Pace/MacGill Gallery

Paolo Roversi is one of those photographers that tends to frustrate you not because he is bad, but because he is do damn good. Roversi has been responsible for some of the most iconic imagery from Comme des Garcons and Yohji Yamamoto, and more than a few memorable portraits and fashion editorials. Along with Sarah Moon and Deborah Turbeville, he has managed to make fashion photography transporting, taking you to a place that’s quieter, more contemplative, more intimate. The frustration comes from the lack of avenues to experience his sensual, touching work. There are few books that capture his output, and there are few exhibits. In 2005, when I was just starting to write and I scarcely new his work I had a chance to review his Studio book, published by Steidl. I passed on it, and I still kick myself for it. You can now get it on Amazon, for $600.

Robert Mapplethorpe at the Guggenheim

The photographer Robert Mapplethorpe is inextricably woven into the fabric of the New-York-Before-It-Sucked (that is the ‘70s and the ‘80s) cultural mythology. He’s always been that for the art circle, and he’s become that for a wider circle after Just Kids, a Patti Smith’s memoir about their friendship wildly popular amongst those who weren’t there. For fashion people, Raf Simons most recently popularized the name by devoting an entire collection to Mapplethorpe’s work.

Unapologetically gay, unapologetically promiscuous, unapologetically bohemian, Mapplethorpe was indeed a fixture on the New York cultural circuit, hanging out at Max’s Kansas City, rooming with Patti Smith, circling the requisite Warhol circle, and so on – the stuff of legend to be sure.

This year the ever savvy Guggenheim is capitalizing on the legend by holding a year-long two-part exhibit on Mapplethorpe, called Implicit Tensions: Mapplethorpe Now. The show is timely, as the LGBTQ rights continues to be a hot-button topic that attracts millennials. Why not attract them to a museum to see the granddaddy of it all? Because Mapplethorpe remains supremely important when it comes to highlighting the gay scene in New York. And not only highlighting it, but sticking it in the face of America. Contrary to the title, I find nothing implicit in the tensions Mapplethorpe put on display with his work.

Comme des Garçons at the Met

One of the several questions that came to me as I was leaving the press preview of the “Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between” show at the Metropolitan Museum of Art was, “Who is this exhibit for?” Or, to reframe it in broader context, what is the role of museums today?

Robert Rauschenberg at Tate Modern

If art is supposed to reflect the world around us, than the American artist Robert Rauschenberg is an artist par excellence. Rauschenberg was one of the most important artists in the burgeoning, energetic New York art scene of the mid-2oth Century. His ability to gather materials from the dilapidated, grim streets of New York and morphing them into art remains unparalleled, and his influence on the likes of Andy Warhol, who was heavily influenced by Rauschenberg’s silk-screening techniques, is undeniable.

Deborah Turbeville at Deborah Bell

As you might know if you follow the output of this magazine closely, the photographer Deborah Turbeville holds a special place in our hearts. I interviewed her for the second print volume of this magazine, and we published the profile posthumously on our website, with a slew of original photographs of her apartment. So, I was delighted to see a new exhibit of her photographs in New York, in the gallery of Deborah Bell, no less.

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Enrico Castellani at Dominique Levy

If you happen to be in New York this spring, Enrico Castellani’s new exhibit, Interior Space, at the uptown gallery Dominique Levy is worth a visit. It’s the first solo exhibition of the revered Italian artist in the gallery, and it spans Castellani’s oeuvre from the 60s to the near present. Castellani was part of the Zero movement, which is now having a resurgence of interest with museum and gallery exhibits around the world, and he, along with his acquaintance Lucio Fontana, is one of the best known Italian figures of the mid-20th Century avant-garde.

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Francis Bacon: Late Paintings

Few artists that came into their own after high modernism measure up to Francis Bacon, whose paintings are models of twisted introspection. What’s more, Bacon actually knew how to paint. Not silk-screen, not put messages on LED boards, not make collages, not arrange objects together, but actually work with phenomenal skill like the greatest of the artists had done. And his work hits not only on the visceral level, but on the intellectual as well.