The beaches may be closed for the season, but there are plenty of other ways to escape the metropolis without ever leaving. The biggest art institutions are stepping up to the plate, transporting us to Jazz Age Paris, Weimar-era Berlin and even Coney Island.
The Neue Galerie, devoted to German and Austrian modern art, has mounted a few exhibitions on Weimar-era Berlin, and each has been spectacular. So expect great things from its latest, "Berlin Metropolis": a survey bursting with more than 300 works spanning painting, drawing, collage, photography, architecture, film and fashion exploring this politically volatile and culturally rich period in Germany’s notorious capital city. (Oct. 1 - Jan. 4, 2016)
One of the most important artists of the Harlem Renaissance, by way of Chicago, Archibald Motley gets a long overdue NYC retrospective. The Whitney Museum of American Art spotlights 40 of the painter’s vibrant depictions of black life during the 1920s and '30s, from classical portraits to Paris nightclub scenes. (Oct. 22 - Jan. 17, 2016)
Miss summer? Escape the late-fall chill at the Brooklyn Museum’s Coney Island exhibition, which will feature 140 paintings, photographs and other objects exploring the history of this people’s playground, from Joseph Stella's modernist rendering to Diane's Arbus' quirky seaside portraits to carousel animals and sideshow curios. (Nov. 20 - March 13, 2016)
It’s a Jackson Pollock retrospective. At MoMA. Do you need any more convincing? Fifty works will be on display, including the radical artist’s iconic drip paintings as well as lesser-known drawings and prints. Start lining up for tickets now. Oh, and swing by MoMA's excellent "Picasso Sculpture" while you're there, which examines the artist's totally innovative and influential 3D works. (Nov. 22 - March 13, 2016)
Get ready, Pixar fans (that’s everyone, right?): The Smithsonian’s Cooper Hewitt, housed in Andrew Carnegie’s stately 1902 manse uptown, is mounting an exhibition devoted to the studio that has brought us such contemporary classics as “Toy Story,” “Finding Nemo” and “Inside Out.”
“Pixar: The Design of Story,” which opens Oct. 2 at the museum’s new Process Lab, will feature never-before-seen paintings, sketches and three-dimensional models that show how the films — and the characters and worlds in them — evolve and get made. (Check out those early, very weird sketches of Woody the Cowboy!)
“Animation is highly designed, particularly today,” says exhibition curator Cara McCarty. “Most people don’t think of it that way, but the way Pixar operates and the kinds of language its animators use is not that different from, say, the way a car manufacturer or a flatware designer refine, innovate and sell their products.”
Central to Pixar’s design process is research and prototyping, from visiting thousands of trash heaps in order to render the postapocalyptic world of “Wall-E” in a believable way, to getting the bounce of “Brave” heroine Merida’s flame-haired curls just right. Yet, visitors will see how even the most minute details serve a narrative, and emotional, purpose.
“Those curls defined Merida’s character — the way they move reinforces her personality,” says McCarty. “After working on the exhibition, I look at their films now in very different way.”