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Art Preview



Millennium Shows
This fall, the Whitney Museum of American Art will conclude its millennium extravaganza with part two of The American Century: Art & Culture 1900-2000. A look at the past 50 years, the exhibit will include approximately 600 works of painting, sculpture, photography, installation, film, and video. As in part one, the curators will stress the way in which art responds to prevailing social issues. Each decade will have "cultural sites" -- the two sites for the fifties, for example, are called "The Cold War" and "The Cult of the Individual" -- containing film clips, readings, posters, clothing, and other materials that establish context for the works on display. (September 26-February 13.)

To provide some perspective on the year 2000, the Montclair Art Museum is looking back one century in Paris 1900, a show that will re-create the American art installation from the Universal Exposition of that year held in Paris. At that exposition, American art began to claim its place in the sun. (September 19-January 16.) The Museum of American Folk Art will present Millennial Dreams: Vision and Prophecy in American Folk Art, an exploration of three centuries of visionary work, ranging from Shaker spirit drawings to New Mexican santos. (November 13-May 14.)

Ancient Art
The blockbuster Egyptian Art in the Age of the Pyramids at the Metropolitan Museum of Art will include about 250 important works from the formative period of ancient Egyptian culture, which is sometimes called the Old Kingdom (circa 2650-2150 B.C.). In addition to providing a survey of one of the greatest eras in art, the show will emphasize the beguiling humanity of much Egyptian work, which can seem at once abstract and disarmingly real. The curators and scholars behind the show have also reconsidered the evolution of Egyptian art, redating many pieces. (September 16-January 9.) Also at the Met is The Artist as Collector: Masterpieces of Chinese Painting from the C.C. Wang Family Collection, a show organized around works of Chinese art from one of this century's greatest private collections. (September 3-January 9.)

Modern Art
Among exhibits of contemporary art, Sensation: Young British Artists from the Saatchi Collection at the Brooklyn Museum of Art should prove especially provocative; it riled up London and Berlin in earlier showings. Of the 44 artists represented, Damien Hirst is the best-known. He made a name for himself by exhibiting sliced-up animals -- including cows and sheep -- in sealed containers of formaldehyde. (October 2-January 9.) At the P.S. 1 Contemporary Art Center, Children of Berlin will examine what happened to art in that city once the wall was torn down in 1989. The circumstances were extraordinary: a city piecing itself together into a new collage. (November 7-January 2.)

The work of the prolific 47-year-old Italian painter Francesco Clemente is going to fill the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum rotunda. His darkly imaginative pictures, which often include depictions of his own body, first caught the imagination of the art world in the early eighties. (October 8-January 9.) The New Museum of Contemporary Art will have an exhibition of the work of Cildo Meireles, a well-known Brazilian conceptual artist. It will include room-size installations, environments, and sculpture. (November 19-March 5.) At New York University's Grey Art Gallery, Inverted Odysseys: Claude Cahun, Maya Deren, Cindy Sherman will compare the work of three women artists who specialize in various forms of the self-portrait. (November 16-January 29.)

Arts and Crafts
The New York Public Library is organizing Seeing is Believing: 700 Years of Scientific and Medical Illustration, a show that will include celebrated texts and images on a wide variety of subjects ranging from astronomy to biology. Many of the images of the interior of the body are fantastically strange and otherworldly. The old titles can also be wonderfully peculiar. William Beaumont called a treatise published in 1833 "Experiments and Observations on the Gastric Juice, and the Physiology of Digestion." (October 23-February 19.) The American Craft Museum is offering (through October 10) Head, Heart, Hands: Native American Craft Traditions in a Contemporary World, a survey of the ways in which Indians today are transforming ancient tribal traditions. The Smithsonian's George Gustav Heye Center of the National Museum of the American Indian will show Instruments of Change, a retrospective of the work of the influential Tlingit artist Jim Schoppert, who died in 1992. (October 3-February 6.) Also at the American Craft Museum is The Beaded Universe: Strands of Culture, an exhibit that looks at the use of beads in many different periods and cultures. (October 21-January 30.)

The art of drawing will, as usual, be richly represented. At the Met, 92 drawings are part of the exhibition of Ingres's portraits. The Frick Collection is presenting Watteau and His World: French Drawings from 1700 to 1750, a show of about 65 drawings by the French master and his contemporaries. Hunter College will show Giulio Romano, Master Designer, an exhibition of about 45 drawings (including some erotic works) by the great Italian mannerist. (September 16-November 27.) Those who fell in love with the work of John Singer Sargent after seeing his retrospective (which is now in Boston) will want to see John Singer Sargent, Draughtsman: Works from the Corcoran Gallery of Art, an exhibit of more than 90 works on paper at the Grey Art Gallery of New York University. (August 31-October 30.) At the Drawing Center, Darkness Like a Dream: Nineteenth Century Sandpaper Drawings From the Collections of Randall and Tanya Holton, Matt Mullican, and Valerie Smith presents examples of an almost-forgotten folk-art tradition of drawing from the mid-nineteenth century, in which artists used charcoal on boards coated with marble dust. (September 10-October 14.)

Architectural Drawing
The Drawing Center is also presenting Another City for Another Life: Constant's "New Babylon," a celebration of the utopian architecture of Constant Nieuwenhuys (who was known mainly by his first name). Constant was part of a group of radical activists who between 1956 and the mid-seventies mounted a fierce critique of modern urban planning and what they considered a dehumanized environment. Constant designed an alternative city whose inhabitants would live in a kind of nomadic bliss. (November 2-December 30.) At the Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, The Work of Charles and Ray Eames: A Legacy of Invention will examine the work of the American husband-and-wife team who sought to use design to make everyday life more useful, interesting, and lively (see "Architecture," page 114). More than 500 works will be on view, including furniture, buildings, and toys created from the forties through the seventies. (October 12-January 9.)

For Kids
Among shows that should interest children as well as adults is The Great Experiment: George Washington and the American Republic at the Morgan Library, a selection of about 160 manuscripts, maps, artworks, and personal artifacts that concern the first president. A first printing of the Declaration of Independence and the letter and terms of surrender of the British general Cornwallis highlight the show. (September 16-January 9.) The New-York Historical Society is organizing $24: The Legendary Deal for Manhattan, an exhibition that will investigate the most famous real-estate steal in New York history. Did it really happen? Why is the story so appealing? (September 21-March 9.) The Heckscher Museum of Art in Huntington, Long Island, invited 21 artists, architects, and designers -- among them Faith Ringgold and Milton Glaser -- to create millennium time capsules. Children might be inspired to make their own. (November 20-January 30.)

Children should also take a particular interest in the return engagement of The Butterfly Conservatory at the American Museum of Natural History, which will display a colorful array of these live, fluttering dandies. They seem to enjoy landing on a child's head. (October 9-February 27.) Children might also enjoy Body Art: Marks of Identity at the same museum, a serious but colorful examination of the practice of decorating the body that will range over thousands of years. They will be able to shiver over the practice of ancient tattooing and piercing and admire "head shaping." However . . . parents might want to keep adolescents away from the show, lest they get some ideas. (November 20-May 29.)

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