Three Big-Name Gallery Exhibitions Highlight Chelsea’s Fall Art Shows


We're hitting peak Chelsea gallery-going season right about now, with just about everyone putting up blockbuster-ish exhibitions in the hopes of luring in the wealthy out-of-towners here for the holidays, as well as anyone else in a buying mood after all the big fall auctions at the big houses (Sotheby's Christie's, Phillips). Earlier, we recapped the kick-off of Chelsea's Fall art season and as always, in addition to all the smaller treasures you might find behind any number of these frosted glass doors, there are a number of truly museum-quality shows going on right now, thanks to the neighborhood's heaviest hitters. Here's a quick look at three worth seeking out.  

Checking out the Martin Puryear at Matthew Marks in Chelsea

First Stop – Martin Puryear at Matthew Marks

This might be my favorite Chelsea gallery exhibition of this year. Which, considering that Martin Puryear's 2007 MoMA show was my favorite museum exhibition of THAT year, isn't much of a surprise. Featuring about a dozen new sculptures by the American artist–mostly made of wood, though there's also some cast iron and highly-polished stainless steel in the mix–Puryear's organic forms and labor-intensive processes evoke an amazing range of cultures and historical periods, managing to be both beautiful and slightly unsettling at the same time. If you were to stumble across one of these in a forest somewhere, you'd probably smile in wonder, and then walk quickly away before whoever created such a thing returned. Through January 10. More info here.           

A young girl looks at a painting at Neo Rauch: At the Well, at David Zwirner

Second Stop – Neo Rauch: At the Well, at David Zwirner 

The David Zwirner Chelsea empire really gives artists room to spread out, an advantage used to great effect with this exhibition of sixteen new paintings, many of which are pretty huge, by the always-engaging German artist Neo Rauch. As you'd expect from a Rauch show, there's a fair amount of surreal busyness going on here–each of the works rewards a long, careful look–and always grounded within a kind of mundane landscape. It's all a bit creepy, but in a curiously unthreatening way. Like maybe you wouldn't mind hanging out with those bird-men hybrid creatures for a while? Even though it's a bit of a freak show? And those colors! How does Rauch make the dated palette look so contemporary? Through December 20. More info here.     

Artwork from Franz West's exhibition at David Zwirner's gallery in Chelsea

Last Stop – Franz West at David Zwirner 

Also within David Zwirner's nearly-block-long 19th Street gallery, and also taking full advantage of the space therein, this Franz West exhibition focuses on a single decade, roughly the 1990s, in the late Austrian artist's long career. There's a ton of stuff here, in a wide variety mediums (sculptural pieces, found objects, paintings, papier-mache, collage, drawings, video, the works), much of it playful, all of it taking familiar forms or objects and skewering them just a little. Or just a lot. The result, like the Rauch show next door, amply rewards your time and attention as you stroll through the galleries. That all three of these exhibitions are free, and usually attract a great, people-watchable crowd, only adds to appeal. Through December 13. More info here.

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