These Are the 5 Most Inspiring Art Shows to See This Weekend in NYC

“URS FISCHER,” installation view. Artwork © Urs Fischer. Photo by Rob McKeever

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Urs Fischer at Gagosian Gallery, 980 Madison Avenue, NYC
Thankfully extended, the neo-Dada artist’s eponymous show will remain open through January 17 (Saturday,) so get there quickly this weekend. The show includes full room installations of Fischer’s large-scale, semi-impermanent sculptures.
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“URS FISCHER,” installation view. Artwork © Urs Fischer. Photo by Rob McKeever

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Works & Process Livestream: Miami City Ballet, Justin Peck & Shepard Fairey, through the Guggenheim
7:30 p.m. eastern sees the livestream of a discussion between artist Shepard Fairey and Wynwood Walls choreographer Justin Peck on Heatscape, which will premiere in March at the Miami City Ballet. As the two talk, dancers will perform. Watch it from wherever you are by clicking here.

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Cubism: The Leonard A. Lauder Collection at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1000 Fifth Avenue, NYC
This comprehensive collection, containing works by Picasso, Braque, Gris, and Leger, of Cubist art, one of the most influential art movements of the early 20th century. This is the first time this collection is on view to the public. Get there before it closes on February 16.
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“Two Nudes” Pablo Picasso. Paris, spring 1909. Promised gift from the Leonard A. Lauder Cubist Collection © 2014 Estate of Pablo Picasso / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

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Jennifer Nocon at Tracy Williams Ltd, 521 West 23rd Street, NYC
In her third solo show with the gallery, L.A.-based artist Jennifer Nocon continues to explore reoccurring patterns with her show “You See Ocean I See Sky”. Expect watercolor on paper, sculpture, and a frieze incorporating wool and ceramic to form, what else, patterns.
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“Sky Diamonds” by Jennifer Nocon

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Jesús Rafael Soto at Galerie Perrotin, 909 Madison Avenue, NYC
Timed to coincide with a show happening simultaneously at Galerie Perrotin in Paris, Soto’s Chronochrome explores the the relationship between monochromatic color and time, hence the title of the retrospective. Wall-mounted works join large-scale sculpture for the deceased artist’s show.
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Jesús Rafael Soto/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York, ADAGP, Paris, Galerie Perrotin

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Neil Young & Crazy Horse Have A Posse

Street artist, agent-provocateur, branding maven and André the Giant posse-leader Shepard Fairey has been painting cultural icons since the days of his "OBEY" sticker campaign, in the process becoming one himself. Now, he will once again lend his talents in collaboration with another great artist, Neil Young.

Fairey will be working with Young and Crazy Horse to create pieces of art inspired by their latest album, Americana, a series of classic American folk songs reimagined, including "Wayfarin’ Stranger," "Clementine" and "This Land Is Your Land." Although none of the art is available for viewing yet, Fairey described his interpretation of "God Save the Queen" (aka "My Country, ‘Tis of Thee") to the NYT: the Queen and Betsy Ross sew British and American flags, along with the words "God save the land of liberty."

This isn’t the first time Young and Fairey have met at the intersection of art and rock. Back in 2010, Fairey created a series of prints in Young’s likeness in collaboration with iconic photographer Henry Diltz as part of his "May Day" exhibition, a showcase of images of progressive cultural heroes which also included likenesses of Keith Haring, Woody Guthrie and Muhammad Ali. A portion of the proceeds for these works went to benefit the Bridge School.

The album drops June 5th, while Fairey’s works inspired by the album will be available for a one-off viewing event at the Perry Rubinstein Gallery in Los Angeles on June 1st. The first track off of Americana, a gritty blues remake of the traditional American tune "Oh, Susannah," was released earlier this month. Take a listen below:

Morning Links: ‘The Situation’ Clears Up Rehab Rumors, Katy Perry Joins The Marines

● Clearing up rehab rumors, Mike "The Situation" Sorrentino explained yesterday in a Facebook post that he has sought treatment to help him "take control" of his exhaustion related prescription medication use. And as his father ("The Confrontation") points out, this is not his first go-around. [HuffPost]

● We will have to thank Shepard Fairey — the street artist behind those Obama "Hope" posters and the man who brought the project to LBI and Imagine Entertainment — if George Orwell’s 1984 gets a much-deserved turn on the big screen. [THR]

● Katy Perry chops her hair off and joins the Marines in the video for her not-divorce song, "Part of Me." [Vulture]

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo DVD packaging — just a blank DVD with the title scrawled in magic marker, as if you burned the copy yourself — is throwing buyers and Redbox renters for a loop. [Telegraph]

● Apparently producers toyed first with the idea of a Hunger Games television series. No doubt they are happy they took the full-feature route that they did. [NYDN]

● With hook specialist Ester Dean as a guide, The New Yorker goes behind the scenes of the pop song sausage factory to see what it takes to make a "smash." [New Yorker]

Shepard Fairey Has a Message for Obama with New Artwork

Shepard Fairey has tweaked his iconic ‘Hope’ poster for the Occupy Wall Street movement, replacing Obama’s face with that of Guy Fawkes mask. While it serves to show support for the movement, he also has a message for the President.

The words across the bottom of the poster read “Mister President, we hope you’re on our side.” 

On his web site, he expanded upon the message, writing “As flawed as the system is, I see Obama as a potential ally of the Occupy movement if the energy of the movement is perceived as constructive, not destructive. I still see Obama as the closest thing to “a man on the inside” that we have presently.”

A copyright lawsuit was filed against Fairey for using an AP photographer’s Obama photo for the HOPE poster, so he may run into some issues which are sure to get people protesting even more. "I’m still trying to work out copyright issues I may face with this image," he says, “but feel free to share it and stay tuned."

Chic Geeks Discuss Steven Heller’s Book About Propaganda

Last night, art lovers and history nerds alike gathered at the Phaidon bookstore in Soho to celebrate the release of Steven Heller’s Iron Fists: Branding the 20th-Century Totalitarian State. In honor of his book, Phaidon and Esopus Magazine hosted a panel discussion with Heller, Shepard Fairey, and Paul Miller (aka DJ Spooky) to discuss propaganda, modern advertising, and oppressive political regimes. Thank god for the open bar.

Heller’s book is a study of propaganda and political advertising during four 20th century totalitarian regimes: Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, the Soviet Union, and Communist China. In his presentation, he emphasized the power of facial characteristics (think Hitler’s mustache), the importance of symbols made synonymous with each of these regimes (the sickle and hammer), and the “cult of hate” that perpetuated racist ideologies. Makes for a lighthearted conversation.

Bringing Heller’s discussion to modern times, Shepard Fairey discussed his work on the Obama poster. He likened Obama’s campaign images to totalitarian propaganda, stating that the effectiveness of both campaign posters are based in similar design ideas — bold colors, minimal wording, and a single strong visual image. Just to be super clear, this in no way means that our president is a dictator. Fairey just lifted some simple advertising techniques from certain dictators.

In the hip Phaidon shop, trendy intellectuals gathered together to listen to these three eloquent speakers discuss their ideas, careers, and cultural findings. Who knew that history, politics, art, and design could come together over drinks? Smart is definitely the new sexy.

Shepard Fairey’s Wife Blows Up His Spot on Camera

Oops! Shepard Fairey’s wife Amanda, accidentally revealed something to TMZ that frankly, everyone’s kind of known for a while: Fairey no longer goes out on the street and puts up his own works, but hires people to do it for him. Watch the video to see the artist’s face when his wife drops the bomb.

None of that was particularly well-handled by either party, but Fairey could have avoided coming off as a complete douchebag and just rolled with it. Anyone who’s into street art knows the big shots in the field hire people to do this stuff. For a long time, Fairey has been the embodiment of street art’s shift to a more commercialized sphere. His work is on t-shirts, bumper stickers, and angry teenagers’ bedrooms all over the world. Which is fine, but he’s remiss to pretend that he still has all kinds of cred. Plus, if you’re getting covered by TMZ, the illusion’s all but shattered anyway.

A Preview of MOCA’s ‘Art in the Streets’ Exhibit

Not everyone in Los Angeles is headed to Coachella this weekend. Last night in West Hollywood, MOCA Director Jeffrey Deitch, Fab Five Freddy, Lee Quiñones, and Shepard Fairey held court at Soho House to give members and art fans a sneak peek at a buzzy new exhibition, “Art in the Streets.”

The show purports to be “the first major U.S. museum survey of graffiti and street art,” and from the preview last night, it looks like a winner, especially when you consider the rise of street art in mainstream culture (special thanks to the one, the only Banksy). “Growing up in New York, I would visit the Met and the Whitney, and I just got comfortable at an early age going to museums,” said Freddy. The former graffiti artist/rapper and onetime host of Yo! MTV Raps is painting again, and he seemed more than comfortable talking about his role in bridging the gap between art and hip-hop, and placing it all in a historical context. “I did an homage to Warhol on subway trains to let people know that we knew about art,” he said of one of his most well-known graffiti works from 1980. “It was all linked,” he continued. “It was all one culture.”

Pictures of Freddy and other notable street artists from New York will be displayed at the exhibit, which was curated by Deitch and associate curators Roger Gastman and Aaron Rose. In addition to photographs of notable graffiti works from the 1980s, the exhibit will host mixed media sculptures and interactive installations by 50 or so artists, including JR, Os Gêmeos, and Chaz. Naturally, this being MOCA, New York won’t get all the glory — LA’s role in the evolution of graffiti and street art will get love via Shepard Fairey’s work, as well as special sections dedicated to cholo graffiti and Venice skateboard culture.

Enough time has elapsed for the art world to take a serious look at the real roots of graffiti culture, invoking names that anyone who lived in New York knew intimately in the 1980s—even if they didn’t recognize it as “art” at the time. “Freddy and Shepard have been able to move art into the broader culture, and not just for the elite art critics,” said Deitch. For Freddy, the part of the exhibit he seemed most excited about is a special section of “Art In The Streets” that will be dedicated to recreating New York’s famed Fun Gallery, which connected New York graffiti artists with the downtown art community in the early 1980s.

“We had so many great shows at that gallery,” he said Tuesday of Fun (MOCA will also be showing Keith Haring, Jean-Michel Basquiat, and other artists who showed at Fun). “Art In The Streets” opens Saturday to MOCA members and Sunday to the public. The show runs through August 8th.

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Run DMC Photographer Sues Mr. Brainwash

Street artist Thierry Guetta, a.k.a. Mr. Brainwash from Exit Through the Gift Shop, is being sued for copyright infringement over an image of Run DMC. Guetta allegedly used a 1985 photo by photographer Glen Friedman in artworks, prints, promotional materials, even postcards, without paying any licensing fees. Guetta is claiming “fair use,” which would allow him to use the image for things like parody even though it’s copyrighted. So, this must be conclusive evidence that Mr. Brainwash actually exists, right? How do you sue a fictional character made up by Banksy?

This is the first time since Shepard Fairey’s tiff with the AP that the street art world has been shaken up by a copyright dispute. Which is logical enough, because street art in its purest form is found on the street and its artists are anonymous. But now that street artists are becoming mainstream and having gallery shows (like Mr. Brainwash, who according to Exit Through the Gift Shop burst onto the scene in 2008 with a massive show in L.A.), their appropriation of pop culture images could get them in trouble.

What makes it depressing is that the art in question isn’t really that good. It’s just that photo of Run DMC (which is a great photo) with a bunch of graffiti on it. At least in Shepard Fairey’s case, he turned a photo of Obama into an iconic image with artistic value. Either way, it’ll be interesting to see how this one turns out and what repercussions it’ll have for street artists in the future.

Related: I was really hoping Mr. Brainwash wasn’t real. Too bad.

Remembering, Creating, and Destroying Art

Somebody once said, “If you’re yearning for the good old days, turn off the air conditioner.” Now, lets not get hysterical—or in today’s 100+ degree weather, suicidal—longing for times gone by. When we look back in envy, we must remember the shortcomings of the eras past. Another dude once said, “Nostalgia is a file that removes the rough edges from the good old days.” Then there’s that gal who offered, “These are the good old days.” The funny thing about quotes is that they are almost always true, even when they pitch opposing views. Tomorrow night, I will DJ at the fabulous Hudson Hotel. My set will be sandwiched between my favorite misnomer, Miss Guy, and that heartbreaker Kelle Calco. The evening is called Ladyland, and its as good as I remember it—almost. The thing about this kind of night is that it is pure and perfect. Great music (except maybe for my set), beautiful, well dressed, stylish people, and a great room. It’s a wonderful crowd that would have fit in well “back in the day.” The difference today is that it is self-contained. Back in days of lore, this crowd would have mixed with a dozen other pure and perfect crowds in a large club. A mix of fashion, art, and ideas would have driven the fashion, art, and ideas to new levels, and new directions. Now you have a room that basically agrees with each other on most things.

Hudson is much better with Guy’s crowd, different and compatible with that of Kelle. There are interesting tourists visiting from exotic lands contributing to the mix, and locals who are hearing the buzz. It is a start, but not quite what was. It is a mixed bag, or these days, purse. It’s a micro scene, but at least it’s grounded in style. I don’t pine for 1989 or even ’81. In the words of that poet I mentioned before, looking back makes the rough edges then seem smoother now. The club world of yesteryear was a world with thousands dying of AIDS, or drugs, or even violence. It was often very segregated, and it was often very poor. It was, in itself, a drug. Clubs stayed open real late, and then after-hours clubs took patrons into afternoons, and jobs, relationships, and other obligations were swept away by the seas of alcohol and debauchery. It was lots more fun, maybe, but its trail of destruction wiped out lives, careers, dreams. Out of this chaos came an art that is hung in museums, but also in offices, and in music played in elevators, or, if done right, in special spots and by DJs who understand the vibe of the era. These “classics” are played in hipster habitats all over town. It’s great to get a rise from The Stooges, or Ramones, as long as the new sounds are mixed in. It’s going to be nice tomorrow night.

Tonight I will visit the New York Premiere of the underground art show, NeonSandwich. Artists so often are, themselves, the show. NeonSandwich reads palms, hawks bags with his work on it, and pushes his brand. He is a character, an innovator, and all around good guy in a world that needs such people, badly. His pitch says:

“Come spray paint me. I will be wearing a white one piece bodysuit covered head to toe. This will occur on street level. A buffet of colors will be laid out for you! You control what you want to spray, burn, tag on me. Also, my Pop-Taoist Art and Abstract Paintings will be on display. And I will be doing Chinese Palm Reading later in the evening.”

NeonSandwich starts At 8pm and goes late. 119 Ludlow Street, north of Delancy.

Speaking of art, I need to address the destruction of the Shepard Fairey wall on Houston and the Bowery. As each day goes by, another chunk of the wall is bombed, spray painted, or kicked in. I asked around to find out why this would be, when the Gemeos and Keith Haring pieces that came before were spared. I was told the “whys” and the “whos” by those in-the-know. The explanation, reason, or excuse was that Shepard has transgressed against others before, and is “getting his now.” It’s sad, as I thought it was a brilliant piece. That fact that it isn’t a drug addict or little league tagger that vandalized the art makes it all even sadder.

Photo: EV Grieve