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    Fun Things to Do in N.Y.C. This May 2022

    Looking for something to do in New York? Go see the Asian Comedy Fest at Stand Up NY and Caveat or the British singer Nilüfer Yanya at Webster Hall. Take the kids to Our First Art Fair, as part of NADA New York. Or you can still catch “Hangmen” on Broadway and the Jacques-Louis David blockbuster at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.Comedy | Music | Kids | Film | Dance | Theater | ArtComedyJes Tom, above at Union Hall in Brooklyn in February, will be among the performers in this weekend’s Asian Comedy Fest.JT AndersonAsian Comedy FestFriday at 6, 8 and 10 p.m. at Stand Up NY, 236 West 78th Street, Manhattan; standupny.com. Saturday at 6, 8 and 10 p.m. at Caveat, 21A Clinton Street, Manhattan; caveat.nycFor the third straight year, Ed Pokropski, a writer and producer at NBCUniversal, and the producer and comedian Kate Moran have assembled dozens of performers for this festival, and like last year, they’re right on time to celebrate Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. The six shows will feature Julia Shiplett, Michael Cruz Kayne, Usama Siddiquee, Karen Chee with the puppeteer Kathleen Kim, the podcasters from “Feeling Asian,” and Yuhua Hamasaki from “RuPaul’s Drag Race.” Friday’s 8 p.m. lineup includes perhaps the festival’s buzziest performer: Jes Tom, a nonbinary trans comedian who co-stars in the new Hulu rom-com “Crush.” (Tom will also headline their own show on May 14 at the Bell House.) Tickets start at $25 per show ($65 for an all-night pass) and are available at asiancomedyfest.com. SEAN L. McCARTHYMusicDarius Jones, above at the Winter Jazzfest in 2018, has programmed this year’s MATA Festival, which concludes at National Sawdust this weekend.Jacob Blickenstaff for The New York TimesClassical MusicMATA FestivalFriday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at National Sawdust, 80 North Sixth Street, Brooklyn; live.nationalsawdust.org.This year’s iteration of the annual contemporary music blowout known as the MATA Festival has been programmed by the composer and alto saxophonist Darius Jones. For the festival’s final two nights, Jones has put together a set of works by younger artists on Friday and one of his own on Saturday. Friday’s concert will feature notable artists like Travis Laplante, who is scheduled to play his solo tenor saxophone opus “The Obvious Place.” And Saturday’s performance will offer the world premiere of Jones’s piece “Colored School No. 3,” which references a Brooklyn building once used as a segregated school for Black children into the early 20th century. Tickets for each night are $25. SETH COLTER WALLSNilüfer Yanya will headline at Webster Hall on Saturday.Adama Jalloh for The New York TimesPop & RockNilüfer YanyaSaturday at 7:30 p.m. at Webster Hall, 25 East 11th Street, Manhattan; websterhall.com.Though as a teenager she was tapped to be in a girl group assembled by Louis Tomlinson of One Direction, Nilüfer Yanya chose a self-determined path over the prospect of pop stardom. The British singer’s debut album, from 2019, contained notes of jazz and indie pop but leaned predominantly into alt-rock, showcasing the guitar chops she had honed since picking up the instrument at age 12. Yanya’s sophomore effort, released in March, follows suit but pares her sound down to essential components: wafty melodies, crisp beats, circuitous guitar work reminiscent of Radiohead. Ironically titled “Painless,” the album is spiked with thorns, its lyrics tackling the complicated, damaging side effects of desire. On Saturday, Yanya heads a bill that also features two other singer-guitarists: Ada Lea and Tasha. Tickets start at $25 and are available at axs.com. OLIVIA HORNKidsOur First Art Fair at Pier 36, sponsored by the New Art Dealers Alliance and the Children’s Museum of the Arts, will feature works by children 12 and under. Above, a display from an after-school class at the museum in 2019.Children’s Museum of the ArtsOur First Art FairThursday from 4 to 8 p.m.; Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at NADA New York, Pier 36, 299 South Street, Manhattan; newartdealers.org.Learn More About the Metropolitan Museum of Art$125 Million Donation: The largest capital gift in the Met’s history will help reinvigorate a long-delayed rebuild of the Modern wing.Recent Exhibits: Our critics reviewed exhibits featuring the drawings of the French Revolution’s chief propagandist and new work by the sculptor Charles Ray.Behind the Scenes: A documentary goes inside the Met to chronicle one of the most challenging years of its history.A Guide to the Met: From the must-see galleries to the lesser-known treasures, here’s how to make the most of your visit.While the New Art Dealers Alliance has always catered to the business’s youngest members, it would be hard to find exhibitors younger than some appearing at this year’s NADA New York exposition. They’re the entrepreneurs 12 and under participating in Our First Art Fair, presented by the alliance and the Children’s Museum of the Arts. Here, youngsters display and price their creations, receiving all proceeds. Little artists who missed the April submission deadline can still contribute by completing a required form and delivering it, along their work, to the fair. On Saturday from 2 to 4 p.m., museum educators will also attend, providing art supplies and helping with last-minute entries. What doesn’t sell goes to the museum’s permanent collection — no small distinction. NADA passes start at $40; they’re free for children. LAUREL GRAEBERFilmThuy An Luu and Frédéric Andrei in Jean-Jacques Beineix’s “Diva,” which is screening at Film Forum starting on Friday.Rialto Pictures‘Diva’Ongoing at Film Forum, 209 West Houston Street, Manhattan; filmforum.org.You’ve seen Brian De Palma’s “Blow Out”? “Diva” is the other major film of 1981 (released in the United States in 1982) that involves a protagonist with a hot-potato audio recording, or technically two: Jules (Frédéric Andrei), a postman and opera fan, secretly records a star vocalist, Cynthia Hawkins (the real-life soprano Wilhelmenia Wiggins Fernandez), who makes a point of only singing live, at a performance in Paris. Soon after, he unwittingly comes into possession of another tape that could expose an international drug-and-sex-trafficking operation.But the crazy convolutions of the plot are hardly the point. “Diva,” directed by Jean-Jacques Beineix, who died in January, is perhaps the film most identified with a trend in France that became known as the cinéma du look, movies for which visual style and attitude left the prevailing impressions. In a print showing at Film Forum, the shades of blue are dazzling, and an elaborate chase through the Paris Metro is pretty exciting, too. BEN KENIGSBERGDanceValerie Levine of Ice Theater of New York performing “Arctic Memory” by Jody Sperling on Governors Island in February.Josef PinlacIce Theater of New YorkFriday and Saturday at 7 p.m.; Monday at 6:30 p.m. at Sky Rink, 61 Chelsea Piers, Manhattan; chelseapiers.com.After pivoting to pavement during the pandemic, Ice Theater of New York returns to its true milieu, which is also a fitting place to reflect on climate change. As part of its home season, the company will present the premiere of the choreographer Jody Sperling’s “Of Water and Ice,” which draws on her research in the Arctic and is set to music by D.J. Spooky. It will be joined on the program by 10 other works, many of them also new, with soundtracks ranging from Philip Glass to Rachmaninoff to Madonna. Don’t expect a string of Nathan Chen-like acrobatic feats, though; the company, founded in 1984, is rooted in the art of ice dancing, which combines the ethos of concert dance with the speed, momentum and strength of ice skating. Two of the form’s best-known practitioners, the British champions Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean, will be honored at Monday’s gala performance. Tickets start at $25 and are available at icetheatre.org. BRIAN SCHAEFERTheaterDavid Threlfall, center, with, from left, Richard Hollis, Ryan Pope, John Horton and Alfie Allen in Martin McDonagh’s dark comedy “Hangmen” at the Golden Theater.Sara Krulwich/The New York TimesCritic’s Pick‘Hangmen’Through June 18 at the Golden Theater, Manhattan; hangmenbroadway.com. Running time: 2 hours 20 minutes.In Martin McDonagh’s Olivier Award winner, set in the 1960s, a menacing mod from London (Alfie Allen of “Game of Thrones”) walks into a grim northern English pub run by a former hangman (David Threlfall). Pitch-black comedy ensues. Directed by Matthew Dunster, this production was a prepandemic hit downtown. Read the review.‘Plaza Suite’Through June 26 at the Hudson Theater, Manhattan; plazasuitebroadway.com. Running time: 2 hours 40 minutes.Matthew Broderick and Sarah Jessica Parker revel in physical comedy as they play two married couples and a pair of long-ago sweethearts in the first Broadway revival of Neil Simon’s trio of one-act farces, a smash at its premiere in 1968. John Benjamin Hickey directs. (Onstage at the Hudson Theater. Limited run ends July 1.) Read the review.Critic’s Pick‘American Buffalo’Through July 10 at Circle in the Square, Manhattan; americanbuffalonyc.com. Running time: 1 hour 40 minutes.Laurence Fishburne, Sam Rockwell and Darren Criss team up for David Mamet’s verbally explosive tragicomedy, set in a Chicago junk shop where an inept pair of small-time criminals and their hapless young flunky plot the theft of a rare nickel. Neil Pepe directs. Read the review.Hugh Jackman as Harold Hill in the Broadway revival of “The Music Man” at the Winter Garden Theater.Sara Krulwich/The New York Times‘The Music Man’At the Winter Garden Theater, Manhattan; musicmanonbroadway.com. Running time: 2 hours 45 minutes.Hugh Jackman, a.k.a. Wolverine, returns to the stage as the charlatan Harold Hill opposite Sutton Foster as Marian the librarian in Jerry Zaks’s widely anticipated revival of Meredith Willson’s classic musical comedy. It’s a hot ticket, and one of Broadway’s more stratospherically priced shows. (Onstage at the Winter Garden Theater.)Read the review.Art & Museums“The Oath of the Tennis Court” (1791), a presentation drawing in “Jacques-Louis David: Radical Draftsman” at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, depicts a foundational event of the French Revolution.RMN-Grand Palais/Art Resource, NYCritic’s PickJacques-Louis David: Radical DraftsmanThrough May 15 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1000 Fifth Avenue, Manhattan; 212-535-7710, metmuseum.org.“Radical Draftsman,” a momentous and deadly serious exhibition, assembles more than 80 works on paper by this prime mover of French Neo-Classicism, from his youthful Roman studies to his uncompromising Jacobin years, into jail and then Napoleon’s cabinet, and through to his final exile in Brussels. It’s a scholarly feat, with loans from two dozen institutions, and never-before-seen discoveries from private collections. It will enthrall specialists who want to map how David built his robust canvases out of preparatory sketches and drapery studies. But for the public, this show has a more direct importance. This show forces us — and right on time — to think hard about the real power of pictures (and picture makers), and the price of political and cultural certainty. What is beautiful, and what is virtuous? And when virtue embraces terror, what is beauty really for? Read the review.Critic’s PickJonas Mekas: The Camera Was Always RunningThrough June 5 at the Jewish Museum, 1109 Fifth Avenue, Manhattan; 212-423-3200, thejewishmuseum.org.A Lithuanian refugee who landed in New York City in 1949, Jonas Mekas became a founder of the Film-Makers’ Cooperative, Film Culture magazine and Anthology Film Archives. He also made scores of collagelike “diary” films. “The Camera Was Always Running” is Mekas’s first U.S. museum survey, and its curator, Kelly Taxter, approached the daunting task by mounting a high-speed retrospective projected on a dozen free-standing screens.Most of the films in the exhibition are broken up into simultaneously projected pieces, so that the full program of 11 takes just three hours. Many are diary films — abstract kaleidoscopic records of Mekas, his brother Adolfas, also a filmmaker, and the SoHo bohemians and Lithuanian transplants of their circle. Since the point of all this, even more than documenting the variety of Mekas’s life in particular, is to capture the magical incongruity of life in general, Taxter’s inspired staging may even make the works more effective. Read the review.Painted fabric hangings behind the sculpture “The Wake and Resurrection of the Bicentennial Negro,” 1976. This entire installation originated as part of a performance piece.Faith Ringgold/ARS, NY, DACS, London and ACA Galleries; Simbarashe Cha for The New York TimesCritic’s PickFaith Ringgold: American PeopleThrough June 5 at the New Museum, 235 Bowery, Manhattan; 212-219-1222, newmuseum.org.Ringgold’s first local retrospective in almost 40 years features the Harlem-born artist’s figures, craft techniques and storytelling in inventive combinations. And it makes clear that what consigned Ringgold to an outlier track half a century ago puts her front and center now. The show begins with a group of brooding, broadly stroked figure paintings from the 1960s called “American People Series.” All the pictures are about hierarchies of power; women are barely even present. Ringgold referred to this early, wary work as “super realist.”In the ’80s, an elaboration on the painted quilt form, called “story quilts,” brought Ringgold attention both inside and outside the art world. It is the vehicle for Ringgold’s most formally complex and buoyant painting project, “The French Connection.” Overall, it feels, in tone, like a far cry from the “American People” pictures, but there’s politics at work in the French paintings, too. Read the review. More

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    Cynthia Albritton, Rock’s ‘Plaster Caster,’ Dies at 74

    She gained fame making sculptures of male rockers’ genitals, an attention-getting gimmick that she grew to regard as art and that became part of rock ’n’ roll lore.“Do I have a favorite?” the artist Cynthia Albritton once said of her signature works. “No, I love them all.”But, she added, in a 1995 interview with The Evening Standard of London, “other people are most interested in the Hendrix.”The Hendrix, also sometimes referred to as the Penis de Milo, is a plaster cast of Jimi Hendrix’s genitalia. Ms. Albritton, better known as Cynthia Plaster Caster, made the piece in 1968, an early entry in what would become a series of more than 50 phallic casts, most of rock musicians, and ultimately part of rock ’n’ roll lore.There are songs about her, including Kiss’s “Plaster Caster.” That was also the title of a 2001 documentary film about her work. In addition to Hendrix, Zal Yanovsky of the Lovin’ Spoonful, Eric Burdon of the Animals, Wayne Kramer of the MC5 and Jon Langford of the Mekons are among those represented in her collection.Ms. Albritton died on April 21 at a care facility in Chicago. She was 74. Chris Hellner, a close friend, said the cause was cerebrovascular disease.What became her claim to fame started as an assignment for an art class she was taking at the Chicago branch of the University of Illinois in 1966. The professor told students that their homework was to make a cast of “something that could retain its shape, something solid,” as Ms. Albritton put it in a 2012 video interview with Rock Scene Magazine.Accounts have varied, but most say that her first subjects were two male friends. Soon, though, she had moved on to rockers, since she was, as she acknowledged, one of those fans who liked to chase the famous.“Originally I saw it as a great ruse to divert rock stars from the other girls,” she told The Evening Standard. “Only by accident did it become an art form. I take it seriously, though there is an absurd side. But I’m laughing with them, not at them.”In the anything-goes era of the late 1960s, Ms. Albritton didn’t have much trouble finding rockers willing to be immortalized, especially after Frank Zappa heard about what she was doing and promoted her efforts (though declining to be cast himself). She did, however, have trouble finding the right medium, trying a variety of substances and methods before hitting on dental mold.If the sculptures started out as a lark, the subjects who cooperated with her saw something more in her efforts.“Hers was a revolutionary art in a time that demanded revolutionary work,” Mr. Kramer, who had his sculptural session in the late 1960s, said by email. “She smashed the barriers of sexual conversation and helped open up people’s minds to the endless possibilities of art.”Mr. Langford, who was cast about 20 years after Mr. Kramer and is an artist as well as a musician, had a similar assessment.“I think Cynthia was a brilliant conceptual artist who made her art with great humor, a deep love of music and a reckless disregard for societal norms,” he said, also by email. “It was fun and deadly serious at the same time — a mad science experiment, really.”Ms. Albritton, whose works were eventually taken seriously enough to be exhibited at galleries, acknowledged that technical difficulties left her collection not as complete as it might have been.“I’m sorry to say I’ve had some mold failures on some very groovy people,” she said in the 2012 interview.Mr. Kramer related some details of his casting session.“Personally, I thought being asked signaled my arrival as a bona fide member of the rock and roll community,” he said. “A real career milestone! Sadly, on the night of my casting, Cynthia was ‘short handed’” — that is, the assistant whose job was to make sure the penises were erect wasn’t there.“Timing was crucial, and on this night it all fell apart,” Mr. Kramer said. “I was left to attempt to reach my full manliness alone, and I failed miserably. My finished cast ended up as a small plaster representation, a mere shell of what could have been. I think it’s one of the funniest of the collection, as do so many others. And, no matter, I’m proud to be included.”Cynthia Dorothy Albritton was born on May 24, 1947, in Chicago. Her father, Edward, was a postal clerk, and her mother, Dorothy (Wysocki) Albritton, was a secretary. For decades Ms. Albritton would not give her last name in interviews because she didn’t want her mother to know what she was up to.She grew up in Chicago, a big stop on the circuit for touring rock bands major and minor. She was particularly drawn to the British bands, she said — “cute British boys with long hair and tight pants.” Pamela Des Barres, in her 1987 memoir, “I’m With the Band: Confessions of a Groupie,” wrote that Ms. Albritton seemed an unlikely person to get zippers unzipped.“She was painfully shy,” she wrote, “and I couldn’t imagine her with the alginate and plaster, buried in Eric Burdon’s crotch area, but I saw the casts for myself, and was wowed by the artistry involved.”Ms. Albritton, in a 2005 interview with The Sunday Age of Melbourne, Australia, said Zappa’s backing was key.“Frank was just the most important person in my life, my mentor and my supporter and my dear friend and shoulder to cry on,” she said. “He was the first person in the world to tell me I was an artist.”But her connection to Zappa, who died in 1993, resulted in a court case. At one point, after her home was burglarized, Ms. Albritton turned her sculptures over for safekeeping to Herb Cohen, a music industry figure who had business dealings with Zappa. She had to sue him to get them back, a case she won in 1993.She leaves no immediate survivors.Ms. Albritton continued to make male sculptures over the years — the actor Anthony Newley was among the nonmusicians in her collection — and eventually added women’s breasts to her repertory.“Breasts have been ignored for too long,” she said in the 1995 interview, possibly satirically. Her breast subjects included Sally Timms of the Mekons and Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. In 2009, the conceptual artist Rob Pruitt presented her with the Rob Pruitt Award at an irony-heavy performance event called “The First Annual Art Awards” at the Guggenheim Museum in New York.Ms. Albritton said that in recent, less exploratory decades, finding willing subjects had gotten more difficult. But she remained interested.“As long as there are talented musicians with appendages,” she said in a video in 2011, “I’ll be available for my casting call.” More

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    With ‘Waiting for the Sibyl,’ Kentridge Looks Into the Future

    The South African artist developed a piece about how difficult it is to see around the next corner. Ironically, the work anticipated the uncertainties of pandemic life.LONDON — Billions of us have spent the past two or so years trying to divine the future. Will I get Covid-19? How bad will it be? When will the coronavirus pandemic end? Will it ever end? Reliable answers have been scant; even if we’ve been cushioned from the worst effects, many people have been camping in a sort of existential waiting room, living in near-permanent uncertainty.Appropriate timing, then, that the Barbican arts center in London is about to stage a chamber opera, by the South African artist William Kentridge, about how difficult it is to see around the next corner. Titled “Waiting for the Sibyl,” it retells the myth of a Greek prophetess whom mortals once pestered with exactly these sort of exasperating questions.A scene from “Waiting for the Sibyl,” which premiered at the Teatro Dell’Opera di Roma, in Italy, in 2019.Stella OlivierThat prophetess, the Cumaean Sibyl, was said to have spit out her written answers on oak leaves, but there was a catch: If the wind scattered the leaves, she would not help put them in the correct order, leaving her clients none the wiser. The opera is a reminder that humans have been trying to get a jump on what’s coming next for perhaps as long as we’ve existed — and that maybe we’d be better served by living in the present instead.In a recent interview in London, Kentridge said that, ironically, he hadn’t seen the piece’s relevance coming: He had begun work on “Waiting for the Sibyl” more than two years before the pandemic.“Those questions of mortality, fate, who are we in this world, have been the bread and butter of artists for millennia,” he said. “But that’s been brought right to the forefront now.”Commissioned by the Teatro dell’Opera di Roma in Italy and debuted there in September 2019, the roughly 40-minute piece consists of short, fragmentary scenes without dialogue. At first, it seems as cryptic as anything produced by a Greek oracle. A cast of nine singers and dancers enact moments from the legend. In one, a performer writhes in stuttering flashes of light in front of a screen displaying messages like, “I have brought NEWS” and “THE MOMENT HAS GONE.” Later, the cast dances while surrounded by scraps of prophecies on leaves of paper.The prophecies themselves are wry: “Resist the THIRD MARTINI,” “DISCARD LAST YEAR’S SOCKS.” But the parallels with our pandemic experience are often eerie. “FRESH GRAVES are everywhere,” reads one. Another is even more plangent: “My turn is when?”Making the opera had been an intricate process, Kentridge explained. The work was compiled from odd phrases he’d seen in books of English, Russian and Hebrew poetry and from a 1916 book of proverbs compiled by the South African writer Solomon Plaatje, which he made into a libretto of sorts.“A libretto is a straitjacket: You put it on willingly, but nonetheless it is a restriction,” Kentridge said. This opera “is a totally different experience.”Alex Ingram for The New York TimesThese scraps of text were then workshopped with the singers alongside the composers Nhlanhla Mahlangu and Kyle Shepherd. Together, they translated the phrases into African languages including Zulu, Setswana and Sesotho and Xhosa, and developed an improvised musical score.Sometimes, the music refers to traditions such as call-and-response isicathamiya choral singing; elsewhere it is deliberately jumbled. To draw all of this together, Kentridge created art work — drawings, ink washes, sculptures, palimpsests of old letters and reference books — which he turned into animated projections and stage designs.Like so many of his works, the result is a “collage,” Kentridge said. While he has designed and directed operas before — notably a madcap spin on Shostakovich’s “The Nose” (2010) and a brutally monochrome version of Berg’s “Wozzeck” (2017) — being able to create his own universe was liberating, he added.“A libretto is a straitjacket: You put it on willingly, but nonetheless it is a restriction,” he said. “This is a totally different experience.”Mahlangu said that, for himself and the singers, the Greek source material seemed remote at first. Yet as they developed the piece, it began to resonate with African mythologies and storytelling traditions. “Many people in South Africa believe that when people die, they don’t actually die,” he said. “They continue to look after the living. There is a sibyl in each and every one.”He added that this story of prediction and counter-prediction also resonated with the volatile politics of contemporary South Africa, which became even more turbulent amid the pandemic, as the country’s unemployment rate climbed to a dizzying 35 percent. “Here we are constantly in the state of wonder and worry,” Mahlangu said: “‘What is the next step? Where will we be?’”Now 66, Kentridge is unusual — almost unique — among contemporary artists in having achieved as much acceptance in theaters and opera houses as in museums and contemporary art spaces. He began his career in the mid-1970s as a Johannesburg-based illustrator and printmaker, but his practice has expanded to include whimsical short films, elaborate installations and majestic pieces of public art.A still from “City Deep,” an animated film by Kentridge about South Africa.William KentridgeOften his subjects reference classical literature or art history; almost always they reflect on South Africa’s bitter legacy, as in his new animated film “City Deep” (2020), a response to Johannesburg’s contentious history. A documentary on the making of the movie will be screened at the Barbican alongside “Waiting for the Sibyl.”In an era of conceptual and digital art, Kentridge has remained defiantly figurative and analog: His hulking charcoal drawings, loose sketches in Indian ink and flickering projections are immediately recognizable. Even when working on collaborative projects, the bulk of his time is spent laboring alone with ink, or charcoal, and paper, the artist said. “The physicality is essential. It’s the medium through which the thinking happens.”Much as he enjoys making gallery-based shows, he loves the challenge of theatrical commissions, he added. “The opera house says, ‘We’ll give you a canvas, 17 meters wide, 11 meters high. And we’ll give you another 18 meters of depth,’” he said. “And I get to make an hour-and-a-half drawing in the space.”With opera houses and concert halls closed, he hunkered down in Johannesburg and made a series of nine films about his studio practice, which are now being edited. He has also been preparing a career retrospective at the Royal Academy in London (set to open in September after pandemic-related delays), and making an animated film response to Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 10, which will be performed live at the Lucerne festival, in Switzerland, in June.“There are always a few too many projects,” he said with a laugh. “But I can’t blame anyone but myself.”In an era of conceptual and digital art, Kentridge has remained defiantly figurative and analog: His hulking charcoal drawings, loose sketches in Indian ink and flickering projections are immediately recognizable.Alex Ingram for The New York TimesRe-encountering “Waiting for the Sibyl” in light of the coronavirus had been salutary, he added: Though the opera was partly about the limits of human knowledge, partly about mortality itself, it also contained seeds of hope.“In the long run, none of us are going to get out of this alive, but while we are here, we can acknowledge that,” he said. “We can still work wisely and optimistically. Comfort must be taken where it can be found.” More

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    ‘Charlotte’ Review: An Artist’s Brief Life

    This animated biopic about the German Jewish painter Charlotte Salomon takes faithful inspiration from her life. What if it had taken more energy from her art?In the animated biopic “Charlotte,” about the German Jewish painter Charlotte Salomon, the film’s most eloquent moment may be its last. Concluding on an image of the French Riviera as the sounds of a Nazi roundup can be heard, the directors Éric Warin and Tahir Rana come closest to capturing Salomon’s brief life with its tensions between the creative and the nihilistic.The actress Keira Knightley voices Salomon, who became known posthumously for “Life? or Theatre?,” the vast series of autobiographical gouaches she painted while living in the South of France. In 1938, her parents sent her from Berlin to the American philanthropist Ottilie Moore’s estate in Villefranche-sur-Mer, where her maternal grandparents had relocated.“Life? or Theatre?” — now considered an early graphic novel — is made up of 769 paintings, which are thick, unsettling and expressionistic.Like her opus, the film covers Salomon’s youth in Berlin with her father, a physician, and stepmother, an opera singer; her romance with her stepmother’s voice coach, Alfred Wolfsohn (a very fine Mark Strong); her time at Berlin’s Academy of Arts; her relationship with her grandparents; and, yes, the rise of the Third Reich.But the demons closing in on her in France don’t only wear brown shirts. Jim Broadbent gives voice to her grandfather with a sternness that hints as his tyranny. It is her grandfather’s vindictive revelation of the family’s history of mental illness and suicides that spurs Salomon to create her masterwork.“Charlotte” takes faithful inspiration from the artist’s life, and understatedly renders the facts of her tragic death before the credits. On the day Salomon arrived at Auschwitz, she was killed. She was 26 years old, and pregnant.In the end, “Charlotte” is bereft of the spirit of the artist who made the uncanny “Life? or Theatre?” What an even better tribute the movie would have been had it also taken heated energy from Salomon’s art.CharlotteNot rated. Running time: 1 hour 32 minutes. In theaters. More

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    How Manuel Solano Found Joy by Playing Music

    5:00a.m. 6:00 7:00 8:00 9:00 10:00 11:00 12:00 1:00 2:00 3:00 4:00 5:00 6:00 7:00p.m. 8:00 9:00 10:00 11:00 12:00 1:00 2:00 3:00 4:00 5:00a.m. 6:00 7:00 8:00 9:00 10:00 11:00 12:00 1:00 2:00 3:00 4:00 5:00 6:00 7:00p.m. 8:00 9:00 10:00 11:00 12:00 1:00 2:00 3:00 4:00 Samuel R. Delany Jonathan Bailey Piet Oudolf […] More

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    Warhol-mania: Why the Famed Pop Artist Is Everywhere Again

    Andy Warhol is currently the subject of a Netflix documentary series, an exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum and multiple theatrical works.Andy Warhol left behind a lot of self portraits.There was the black-and-white shot from a photo booth strip, from 1963, in which he wore dark black shades and a cool expression. In 1981, he took a Polaroid of himself in drag, with a platinum blond bob and bold red lips. Five years later, he screen-printed his face, with bright red acrylic paint, onto a black background. These and other images of the Pop Art master rank among his best-known works.But one of his most telling self portraits wasn’t a portrait at all, in a conventional sense. Between 1976 and 1987, the artist regularly dictated his thoughts, fears, feelings and opinions — about art, himself and his world — over the phone to his friend and collaborator Pat Hackett. In 1989, two years after his death, Hackett published “The Andy Warhol Diaries,” a transcribed, edited and condensed version of their phone calls.And now, more than three decades later, “The Andy Warhol Diaries” has come to Netflix as a bittersweet documentary series directed by Andrew Rossi. In a video interview, the director pointed out that Warhol had intended for the book to be published after he died.“It does seem like there’s some message which maybe he himself didn’t even understand,” Rossi said. “There’s an open invitation to interpret it as there is with any of his artwork — because I do view the diaries as another self portrait in his oeuvre.”Warhol’s cultural prominence has hardly diminished in the decades since his death, in 1987. His fascination with branding and celebrity, as well as the famous dictum often attributed to him — “in the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes” — are if anything even more relevant in the age of social media and reality TV.“There’s a reason why ‘Warholian’ remains a description,” Rossi said. “He’s one of the few artists who has transcended his persona and become a part of the language and the cultural fabric.”But if Warhol seems particularly ubiquitous right now, that’s because he is — onscreen, onstage, in museums and in the streets. Earlier this month, Ryan Raftery returned to Joe’s Pub with the biting celebrity bio-musical “The Trial of Andy Warhol.” Anthony McCarten’s new play in London, “The Collaboration” — which centers on the relationship between Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat — is already being adapted for the big screen. The Brooklyn Museum exhibition “Andy Warhol: Revelation” investigates his Catholic upbringing. And starting Friday, Bated Breath Theater Company will bring the theatrical walking tour production “Chasing Andy Warhol” to the streets of the East Village.“The Andy Warhol Diaries” delves into Warhol’s relationship with Jon Gould, a Paramount executive.Andy Warhol Foundation, via NetflixTogether, the works create a kaleidoscopic portrait of the human beneath the white wig. Even as he created an indelible, internationally famous identity, this child of Carpatho Rusyn immigrants, Ondrej and Julia Warhola, grappled with his faith (Byzantine Catholic) and his sexual orientation (gay, but never quite as out as many of his contemporaries) — areas that both “The Andy Warhol Diaries” and “Andy Warhol: Revelation” explore in particular.A significant portion of the Netflix series examines Warhol’s romantic relationships. It delves into Warhol’s struggles to show his love for his first long-term partner, an interior designer named Jed Johnson. Later comes the preppy Paramount executive Jon Gould, whom Warhol showered with affection but who eventually died of AIDS.The Enduring Legacy of Andy WarholThe artist’s cultural prominence has hardly diminished in the decades since his death in 1987.Warhol-mania: If Andy Warhol seems particularly ubiquitous right now, that’s because he is: onscreen, in museums and in the streets.A Play: In “The Collaboration,” Paul Bettany and Jeremy Pope give memorable performances as Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat.A Book: “Warhol” by Blake Gopnik, the first true biography of the artist, reveals a narrative that gets more complex the more closely you look.A Musical: “Andy,” Gus Van Sant’s Warhol-inspired stage debut, may be the movie director’s oddest tribute to date.An Exhibition: “Andy Warhol: Revelation” at the Brooklyn Museum shows how Catholicism seeped into the Pop master’s work.Jessica Beck, a curator at the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh, was interviewed in the documentary series. Rossi found her through her work on the 2018 Whitney Museum exhibition “Andy Warhol — From A to B and Back Again,” for which she wrote an essay titled “Warhol’s Confession: Love, Faith and AIDS.”“There are these moments when he’s doubting himself, when he is questioning what it is to be successful, what it is to be getting older, what it is to be in love,” she said. “That’s one of the strengths of what the series reveals, is that there’s a human that’s behind this mythical story.”Beck pointed to pieces of Warhol’s “Last Supper” series, some of which are currently on view in “Andy Warhol: Revelation.” She referenced one painting in particular, “The Last Supper (Be a Somebody With a Body),” which fuses an image of Jesus Christ with that of a bodybuilder, a symbol of health and masculinity. Beck said the work reflects Warhol’s reactions to the AIDS epidemic.“When you have these two things juxtaposed, you have this real expression of ideas around mourning and suffering, but also forgiveness,” she said.“Andy Warhol: Revelation,” at the Brooklyn Museum, pays special attention to the artist’s faith.Andy Warhol © 2021 The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. /
    Licensed by Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York; Photograph by Jonathan Dorado, Brooklyn Museum“Andy Warhol: Revelation,” which opened in November and runs until June 19, is broken into seven sections that move visitors from the artist’s immigrant upbringing and the roots of his religion through the different phases of his life and career, with a particular focus on the tension between his faith and his queer identity.“This is beyond soup cans and Marilyn,” said José Carlos Diaz, the chief curator of the Andy Warhol Museum, referring to a few of Warhol’s Pop Art hits. Diaz first put on “Revelation” at the Warhol museum before bringing it to Brooklyn.Carmen Hermo, an associate curator at the Brooklyn Museum, organized the New York presentation of “Revelation.” Both she and Diaz are the children of immigrants, like Warhol, and she speculated that this part of the artist’s background helped to account for his famed work ethic and his fierce drive to create the best version of himself.Diaz said, “For me, he lives the American dream,” adding that more nuanced, relatable perspectives on the artist were finally “surpassing this mythological Warhol with the big glasses, big wig.”Warhol is “one of the few artists who has transcended his persona and become a part of the language and the cultural fabric,” said Andrew Rossi, the director of “The Andy Warhol Diaries.”Andy Warhol Foundation, via NetflixAcross the East River, Mara Lieberman, the executive artistic director of Bated Breath Theater Company, is using her fair share of glasses and wigs. Beginning Friday, Lieberman will direct “Chasing Andy Warhol,” a theatrical tour through the East Village in which multiple actors play the artist simultaneously, alluding to his love for repeated images and various personas.One scene depicts something that happened on a trip Warhol took to Hawaii with the production designer Charles Lisanby, with whom he was in love at the time. A couple of days after arriving at the hotel, Lisanby brought another man back to the room, and Warhol exploded, hurt — an event that has been described in biographies of the artist.Warhol has said that he later realized the power of saying “so what” in response to painful life events, an insight he detailed in his book “The Philosophy of Andy Warhol.” It is, Lieberman said, “his greatest coping strategy.”This attitude was a key ingredient — along with his ideas about identity, technology, celebrity and more — in Warhol’s “highly stylized, constructed, brilliantly strategized brand,” Lieberman said.“Andy liked to take life and put a frame around it and say, ‘Look, that’s art,’” she said. “We go out in the streets of New York, and we put a frame around things and say, ‘Look, that’s art.’” More

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    Camille Norment Explores New Sonic Terrains at Dia Chelsea

    The composer and sculptor, born in America and based in Norway, presents two installations on the border of art and music.In the late 1960s and 1970s, the best place to hear new music was often not a concert hall, but an art gallery. Back then, while Carnegie Hall and the still-new Lincoln Center played it safe uptown, the minimalist composer Steve Reich was presenting his rhythmic, exacting compositions down at the Park Place Gallery, led by Paula Cooper. You could hear Philip Glass’s “Music in 12 Parts” at Leo Castelli Gallery, or Meredith Monk’s a cappella ululations at the Walker Art Center. Composers and artists collaborated with ease — La Monte Young wrote compositions for the sculptor Robert Morris; Glass assisted Richard Serra in the creation of his early splashes of lead — and the very distinction between new art and new music could be hazy: the Fluxus artists Nam June Paik, George Maciunas, Allan Kaprow and Yoko Ono were all trained in music composition.New York still has some independent institutions where music and art commingle, like the ambitious Brooklyn nonprofit Blank Forms. But on the whole, contemporary art seems a little afraid of ambitious new music; the performer who makes it into the museum these days is more likely to be a DJ or a pop star like Solange, who uses the prestige of the white cube as essentially an Instagram-optimized backdrop. (As to the epochal catastrophe of “Björk,” at the Museum of Modern Art in 2015, we are going to pass without comment.) A few institutions with roots in that 1970s moment have maintained the interdisciplinary flame. Last month, the Rothko Chapel in Houston (born 1971) invited the composer Tyshawn Sorey to present a major new work in its crepuscular galleries, as Morton Feldman had done 50 years before.And here in New York the Dia Art Foundation, which has regularly made space for composers like Young and Max Neuhaus in its minimal and conceptual canon, has turned its Manhattan galleries over to Camille Norment, the Oslo-based American composer, musician and artist. This is the second exhibition at Dia’s reopened Chelsea galleries since the long-delayed reopening, and fills two adjacent galleries with sonic installations, one austere and one intricate, one high-pitched and one low-toned. Both make use of feedback and resonance effects, and treat music as both sonic and physical phenomena. Both are rigorous yet accessible, and both may leave you hungry to see the artist in concert.The better of Norment’s two new works — both are untitled; the show is called “Plexus” — is in the first gallery, which contains a monumental brass structure in two parts, standing alone in the empty space. The lower part is an inverted bell, a little below human adult height, with a gently flared lip like a calla lily’s. Suspended just above the bell aperture is a second, elongated brass form that looks like a liquid frozen in mid-drip. The only other objects in the room are four long microphones pointed at the sculpture, which produce sonic feedback from the brass instrument, soft, sustained and sublime. The instrument is therefore less a bell than a singing bowl, its tones gently, continuously distorted by spectators’ (or listeners’) motions.A view of the second gallery in “Plexus” (2022), which is filled with dozens of planks of wood. Embedded in them are speakers that play looped recordings of a droning choir.Camille Norment and Dia Art Foundation; Bill Jacobson Studio, New YorkThe ringing produced by this hieratic brass sculpture has both a plastic and a sonic component — a point Norment underscores by listing the media used in this installation as “brass, sine waves, autonomous feedback system, and archival radio static.” In other words, she’s using periodic sound (that is, sine waves) as both a sculptural material that she can mold, like a sculptor shapes metal or stone, and also a spontaneously produced phenomenon of the brass and the microphones, similar to the tones of a trumpet or saxophone.The room is a sculptural installation as well as an active musical instrument, and after a few minutes its resonant keening takes on an Apollonian dignity. As for the last element, the recorded radio static, I could only hear it faintly when I got close to the brass bell. It provides a bit of a beat but it seems an extraneous addition, especially after reading an explanatory text on Dia’s website that reveals the source of the static to be from ’60s and ’70s “community reporting and documentation of social and environmental struggles.” I’m not sure that explicit political source material was needed. Because all on its own, Norment’s ringing and vibrating sound system lets us experience a fragile interdependence of bodies and environments. In here, we are at once creators, listeners and corrupters of an ecology of sound.The second gallery is much busier. Norment has filled it with dozens of planks of wood — of “responsibly sourced wood,” Dia informs us, with a whiff of Whole Foods solicitude. They reach from the floor to the ceiling, and their chocolate brown tones come close to matching the gallery’s rib-vaulted roof. Embedded in the planks are speakers, which play looped recordings of a droning choir, whose low bass notes contrast with the higher-frequency sound of the bell room. You can sit or lie down on the planks, and feel the singing travel through your thighs and buttocks when the chorus crescendos. But the use of recordings, the somewhat milky ah-ah-ah-ahs of the singers, and the maritime overtones of the planks make this installation more like an illustration of a musical ecology. What makes the brass work more exciting is that it constitutes one, out of sound and space.Norment was born in 1970 near Washington, D.C., but since 2005 she has lived in Oslo — the Norwegian capital that last decade emerged as one of Europe’s most fecund art centers. (A lot of the new ferment comes from its excellent art school, the Oslo National Academy of the Arts, where Norment is a senior faculty member.) Her sonic installations often make use of the natural frequencies of materials, objects and even whole buildings, including at the 2015 Venice Biennale, where she used microphones and other transducers to turn the Nordic pavilion into a constant broadcaster of tones.She also leads an ensemble, the Camille Norment Trio, featuring the electric guitar, the Norwegian fiddle and her own instrument: the glass armonica, invented by Benjamin Franklin in the 1760s, which consists of blown glass discs arrayed on a spindle that produce ethereal tones when rubbed. In the late 18th and early 19th centuries, the glass armonica was an instrument associated with divinity and also horror: Donizetti used it for the original orchestrations of the mad scene in “Lucia di Lammermoor.”Her engagement with feedback and resonant frequencies continues an exploration that Reich undertook by swinging microphones in front of speakers for his “Pendulum Music,” or that Jimi Hendrix produced in the space between guitar and amp. And it’s an engagement that dovetails quite naturally with the minimalist, process-oriented and environmental artists that Dia exalts up in Beacon. One of the values of this show may be to get artists and art audiences to think a little harder about what’s in our headphones as we strut through Chelsea or sulk on the train. Spend some time listening to the frequencies of her brass bell, and a clean distinction between the sonic and the sculptural — between music and art — starts to dissipate into air.Camille Norment: PlexusThrough January 2023. Dia Chelsea, 537 West 22nd Street, Manhattan; 845-231-0811; diaart.org. More

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    Cities and States Are Easing Covid Restrictions. Are Theaters and the Arts Next?

    Cultural institutions face tough decisions: Is it safe to drop mask and vaccine requirements, and would doing so be more likely to lure audiences back or keep them away?When music fans walked beneath the familiar piano-shaped awning and into the dark embrace of the Blue Note Jazz Club in Greenwich Village this week, a late-pandemic fixture was missing: No one was checking proof of vaccination and photo IDs.A special guest visited to herald the change. “Good to be back out,” Mayor Eric Adams of New York told the overwhelmingly maskless audience Monday, the day the city stopped requiring proof of vaccination at restaurants and entertainment venues. “I consider myself the nightlife mayor, so I’m going to assess the product every night.”It is a different story uptown, where Carnegie Hall continues to require masks and vaccines and the Metropolitan Opera goes even further, requiring that all eligible people show proof that they have received their booster shots — safety measures that always went beyond what the city required but which reassured many music lovers. “We want the audience to feel comfortable and safe,” said Peter Gelb, the Met’s general manager.With cities and states across the country moving to scale back mask and vaccine requirements as coronavirus cases fall, leaders of cultural institutions find themselves confronted once again with difficult decisions: Is it safe to ease virus safety measures, and would doing so be more likely to lure audiences back or keep them away?Their responses have varied widely. Broadway will continue to require masks and proof of vaccination through at least the end of April. The Smithsonian Institution in Washington announced that it would drop its mask requirement for visitors to its museums and the National Zoo on Friday, following moves by major art museums in places like Chicago and Houston. Some comedy clubs in New York that ditched masking mandates months ago are weighing whether to continue to require proof of vaccination.“At the beginning of this, many arts organizations were having to develop their own policies before there were clear government guidelines,” said Matthew Shilvock, the general director of the San Francisco Opera. “As we come out of this, again, you’re finding arts companies having to find their own way.”The Metropolitan Opera continues to require masks and proof of vaccination and booster shots, and to limit food and drink consumption to one part of the opera house.Todd Heisler/The New York TimesIn interviews, leaders of almost a dozen cultural groups across the country emphasized the need for caution and carefulness. But they noted that each of their situations are distinct. In museums, patrons can roam large galleries and opt for social distance as they please. In theaters and concert halls, audience members are seated close together, immobile for the duration of a performance. Opera houses and symphony orchestras tend to draw an older and more vulnerable audience than night clubs and comedy clubs.The feedback arts leaders say they are getting from visitors has differed: Some said that they had felt increasing pressure to ease their rules in recent weeks, while others said the vast majority of their audience members have told them that they were more likely to visit venues that continue to maintain strict health and safety requirements.“For every one person who complains about the mask requirement, we have probably about 10 people who express unsolicited gratitude for the fact we are choosing to still have masks in place,” said Meghan Pressman, the managing director and chief executive of the Center Theater Group in Los Angeles. She said she would be “surprised” if her organization changed its masking rules before Broadway does.On Broadway, which was shut down by the pandemic for more than a year, officials have said that theater operators would continue to require masks and proof of vaccination through at least April. “We do look forward to welcoming our theatergoers without masks one day soon, and in the meantime, want to ensure that we keep our cast, crew and theatergoers safe so that we can continue to bring the magic of Broadway to our audiences without interruption,” Charlotte St. Martin, the president of the Broadway League, said in a statement.The Metropolitan Opera, which was the first major arts institution to require people entering their opera house to be both vaccinated and boosted, never missed a performance during the height of the recent Omicron surge, and is in no rush to ease its safety measures. “For us, safety comes before Covid fatigue,” said Gelb, the general manager. “So we’re going to err on the side of caution.”But the company has eased some of its backstage protocols: Soloists were not required to wear masks during recent stage rehearsals of Verdi’s “Don Carlos,” which helped some work on their diction as the company sang it in the original French for the first time.Like the Met, the New York Philharmonic and Lincoln Center are also maintaining their mask and vaccine mandates for the moment. Carnegie Hall continues to require masks and proof of vaccination, but recently dropped its policy of briefly requiring booster shots. Masking and vaccine rules also remain in place at the San Francisco Opera, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Los Angeles Opera and Center Theater Group.Two of New York’s premier art-house cinemas are taking different approaches — at least for now. Film Forum’s website says that proof of vaccination is no longer required and that masks are encouraged but not required. Film at Lincoln Center will continue to require proof of vaccination and masks through Sunday, but plans to relax its policy next week.The Metropolitan Museum of Art has stopped checking vaccine cards but is still requiring masks indoors.Seth Wenig/Associated PressA recent poll conducted by The Associated Press found that half of Americans approve of mask mandates, down from 55 percent who supported the mandates six months ago and 75 percent who supported them in December 2020.Choosing what to do is not easy.Christopher Koelsch, the president of the Los Angeles Opera, said that the surveys he has reviewed suggest that roughly a third of audience members would only come to performances if a mask mandate was in place — but that roughly a third would refuse to come if masks are required.“No matter what decision you make,” he said, “there are people who are going to be upset with you and believe that you are making the wrong decision.”Some museums are in an in-between moment. The Metropolitan Museum of Art stopped checking vaccine cards as of Monday but still requires masks. And the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City is likely to lift its mask mandate this month, said Julián Zugazagoitia, the museum’s director.As mask mandates fall in schools, restaurants and other settings, he said, he felt “almost forced” to follow suit. “What I’d like to see us do is keep this as a suggestion,” he said of wearing masks indoors.Other art venues have already changed their rules. Officials at the Art Institute of Chicago said the museum eliminated its requirements for masks and vaccines on Feb. 28 in line with new governmental policies. The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston — one of the first major American museums to reopen after the country went into lockdown in March 2020 — also relaxed its most recent mask mandate last week. As it did previously in the fall, the museum is now recommending — but not requiring — masks for visitors and staff.“We’ve had an increasing number of visitors and staff inquire about why we haven’t — or when are we going to — relax the mandatory mask requirement,” said Gary Tinterow, the museum’s director.At the Broadway Comedy Club in New York, patrons have been allowed inside maskless for some time. But Al Martin, the club’s president, said he has been debating whether to stop requiring that his guests be vaccinated.On one hand, he said, checking people at the door required him to add staff members, which costs money. And he estimated that he has lost roughly 30 percent of his audience because of the mandate. On the other, he said, he liked having a city vaccine mandate to fall back on. “It gave a degree of safety and assurance to people,” he said.He ultimately decided to do away with the vaccine mandate at his club as of Monday despite his personal concern that the city “might have been slightly premature” in rolling back the rules.He reserves the right to change his mind about his club’s policy, he said.“If I see my business drop 40 percent because people are not feeling safe in my venue,” he said, “we’re going back to the vaccine passport.” More