1. Kerry James Marshall: 'Mastry'
In what is arguably one of the year’s most anticipated exhibitions, the Met Museum is showing 80 works from the American artist’s critically acclaimed 35-year career. It’s the largest retrospective of Marshall’s work to date, highlighting the full breadth of his exploration of the black experience in America. Marshall’s commentary on the complexities of race and identity in the West is particularly poignant now as America grapples with the question of how it will look in the age of Trump. If the rhetoric following Nov. 8 seem troubling to you, go see this and know that the same America that produced Steve Bannon, also produced Marshall. To see his paintings is to see one of the country’s many redeeming qualities.
The Met Breuer, through Jan. 29, 945 Madison Ave., metmuseum.org
2. Cecily Brown: ‘Rehearsal’
Cecily Brown’s first solo museum show in New York centers on a series of more than 80 drawings, both large and small. After obsessively working and reworking images, which range from animal clip-art books to the cover of Jimi Hendrix’s 1968 album “Electric Ladyland,” Brown’s work encapsulate her countless revisionary efforts and dedication to the craft of drawing — a skill, she says, that involves “teaching yourself how to see.”
The Drawing Center, 35 Wooster St. through Dec. 18, drawingcenter.org
3. Agnes Martin
In such an emotionally fraught year, there’s something to be said for taking a break from it all, and grabbing a moment to appreciate the simplicity of line, form and color. The Guggenheim’s retrospective of Agnes Martin’s work provides the opportunity to do just that with more than 100 of her serene, abstract paintings on show that demand you to sit, calm down and consider the beauty of show. In other words, it’s exactly what we all need.
Guggenheim, 1071 5th Ave., through Jan 1, guggenheim.org
4.‘Francis Picabia: Our Heads Are Round So Our Thoughts Can Change Direction’
Marshall’s isn’t the only big retrospective in town. In a way, Picabia’s is even more grand, mainly because of the huge range of styles he experimented with —Dadaism (a movement he was at the forefront of), Cubism, Surrealism, Expressive Realism, the list goes on — that, and the fact that the late artist is routinely viewed as one of the greatest painters of the last 100 years. The exhibition highlights 200 works, including 125 paintings, from his fearlessly radical career.
The Museum of Modern Art, 11 W. 53 St., through March 19, moma.org
5. Carrie Mae Weems
In her first New York solo show since the Guggenheim retrospective of her work in 2014, Weems explores race, gender and identity through the world of entertainment in a two-part exhibition of her compelling picture and video work. From her photographic explorations of empty television show sets to her portraits of young black boys in hoodies, the show is a searing critique of racial hierarchy in America.
Jack Shainman Gallery, 534 W. 24 St., through Dec 10, jackshainman.com