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New York exhibitions to see before Christmas

13 December 2015

As offices begin to empty for the holiday season, now is a good time to explore some of the many excellent commercial gallery exhibitions in New York City – from Giorgio Morandi’s modern still lifes to Corinne Wasmuht’s huge figurative paintings. Here are a few suggestions for what to catch before Christmas.

303 Gallery | Mary Heilmann: Geometrics: Waves, Roads, etc.

Until 19 December

303 Gallery has assembled a bright group of Mary Heilmann’s ceramics, geometric abstractions, furniture sculpture, and two distinctive glazed wall pieces – San Andreas and Shadow and Splash. Ever irreverent, Heilmann uses glossy and unfettered colours to trigger that childhood sense of promise that goes with a fresh set of paint pots. Her ‘Geometrics’ in Prussian blue are vigorously layered and Heilmann has brushed the excess paint into prettily scalloped edgings, like icing on birthday cake.

Matthew Marks Gallery | Brice Marden: New Paintings and Drawings

Until 24 December

Brice Marden’s new works are another masterful achievement in terms of colour. The five-panelled Uphill with Center – which sandwiches a single calligraphic plane between four deep-toned monochromes – is something of a novelty for the artist, and is generating a lot of comment. Another multi-panelled work, Eastern Moss, is particularly beautiful. Its tonal gradations in terre verte appear to be a modernist take on 15th-century sfumato.

(2012-15), Brice Marden.

Uphill with Center (2012-15), Brice Marden. © Brice Marden / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / Courtesy Matthew Marks Gallery

It’s worth a detour to the gallery’s 24th street space, where they’ve curated a group show (until February 2016). It’s a mixed set, but arranged into some well-chosen groupings. In the anterior space a very beautiful piece by Martin Puryear, Matthew Marks newest artist, steals attention from Vincent Fecteau’s small photographic diorama; and in the back room Terry Winters’ colourful tessellations mediate Robert Gobber’s barnacled waxworks and a Charles Ray floor piece.

Petzel Gallery | Corinne Wasmuht: Alnitak

Until 19 December

On 18th street, Petzel has a double showing of German painter Corinne Wasmuht, and British expat Adam McEwen – but it is Wasmuht’s painting that demands both more wall-space and more eye-time. The expanse of greens and blues in the 23ft Pehoé Towers is a welcome reprieve from the slick drabness of Chelsea’s other gallery interiors.

(2015), Corinne Wasmuht.

CLF 2 (2015), Corinne Wasmuht. Courtesy of the artist and Petzel, New York

David Zwirner | Bridget Riley and Giorgio Morandi

Until 19 December

British artist Bridget Riley’s disorienting abstractions are on view at David Zwirner on 19th street. The artist’s perceptual disruptions chime amusingly with the caution strips that lead downstairs to the gallery’s ancillary rooms. Particularly effective is Rajasthan (2012), a large pattern applied directly to the wall in acrylic.

Installation view from the 2015 solo exhibition Bridget Riley at David Zwirner, New York

Installation view from the 2015 solo exhibition Bridget Riley at David Zwirner, New York © Bridget Riley 2015. All rights reserved. Courtesy David Zwirner, New York/London

But the real highlight at David Zwirner this month is the extensive assembly of Giorgio Morandi’s works from the 1940s to ’60s, hung to great effect in the gallery’s 20th street space. They’re proving popular: the place was packed when I visited, and I found myself jockeying for space with dozens of iPhone snapping art fans. The Bolognese painter’s exquisite tabletop bottles and scalloped bowls are painted and repainted in desolate but vital succession.

(1946), Giorgio Morandi

Natura morta (Still Life) (1946), Giorgio Morandi © 2015 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/SIAE, Rome

Printed Matter’s new space

If you’re in Chelsea soon, be sure to visit Printed Matter’s new home over on 11th avenue. Those of us who feared an overhead shelf collapse at their crowded 10th street shop can breathe easy in the multi-levelled and sophisticated space they’ve settled into. Alongside with their signature tubs of fluorescent-papered zines, they’ve added some well-stocked vitrines offering assorted desirables, like a well priced copy of Moore College of Art’s 1970 catalogue Recorded Activities and a box set of the original 1980s run of Wedge Press’s iconoclastic periodicals by the likes of Sarah Charlesworth and Kathy Acker.