Picasso and Murakami: Two Huge, Luxurious Holiday Gifts from Gagosian

Larry Gagosian, he of the worldwide contemporary-art empire, always seems to get even more extra-lavish in his massive Chelsea galleries right around the holidays, and this year is no exception: there’s Pablo Picasso on 21st Street, Takashi Murakami on 24th, and both are truly museum-quality exhibitions, the sort of show that in other (lesser) places would be the lead cultural story of season. I like to pretend that they’re Gagosian’s holiday gifts to this great city, but of course it’s really more about tapping into the hordes of mega-rich tourists hitting town for our most festive season. Either way, though, I always take advantage of the man’s “generosity”, in awe of all the time, energy (and money) that goes into these huge crowd-pleasers. If you’re planning a gallery-hopping afternoon before or during the holiday break, make sure you stop in and check these out.


The Life and Times of Pablo: Picasso and the Camera

First, the Picasso. As much about his life and times as it about his work, Picasso and the Camera shows us a side of the legendary artist we don’t usually get to see, bringing together some 225 photographs–along with some 40 paintings and 50 drawings–that he took, or was the subject of, throughout his long career. Well, let me clarify: this is a side of Picasso we don’t usually see in an art gallery. Picasso’s striking features and playful willingness to perform made him probably the most photographed artist in history. But seen alongside his art, and all lovingly organized by Picasso’s longtime friend and biographer John Richardson, AND featuring many never-before-seen photos and home movies, the Gagosian exhibition is one of those gallery-going experiences that really rewards your time, looking carefully and reading and learning. Picasso and the Camera likely won’t move you in the way a great art show can, but it almost certainly will teach you something. Through January 3.



Murakami’s In the Land of the Dead, Stepping on the Tail of a Rainbow

For a more aesthetically exuberant exhibition, look no further than the spectacular–as in literally laden with spectacle–Takashi Murakami show up a few blocks at Gagosian’s sprawling 24th Street space. Titled “In the Land of the Dead, Stepping on the Tail of a Rainbow”, the Murakami features dozens of new paintings and sculptures by the beloved Japanese artist. And while Murakami hasn’t abandoned his signature anime-like style, this is certainly his darkest body of work overall to date. No surprise: all of the pieces were inspired in some way by the terrible 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami that killed some 16,000 people in Japan. But this is not strictly disaster or misery porn; in fact, Murakami spends a lot time exploring the search for spiritual comfort in times of crisis. Most of these pieces are massive, taking up a big chunk of wall or towering over the room, which is a good thing, because the galleries for this, especially if you go on a Saturday, are likely to be packed with people until New Year’s. Through January 17.



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