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Must-See Art Openings To Discover in 2019

The start of a new year is either a time of stress or rebirth, depending on how you look at it. Coinciding with the theme of starting fresh and developing new perspectives, we’ve compiled a new round of art exhibitions that will hit major museums in New York and LA this month. Start your year by viewing a series of slashed canvases, futuristic depictions of communal living spaces, a colorful textile exhibition, a documentary about an under-credited artist and a collection of risqué portraits. Each exhibition challenges present-day ideals with a forward-thinking, culturally analytical outlook.

Lucio Fontana: On the Threshold

 January 23- April 14, 2019 -Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Met Breuer

Image courtesy of: dreamideamachine


In 1946, Lucio Fontana helped write the ‘Manifiesto Blanco,’ also known as the theory that art and science will merge in a concept called Spatialism. The Argentinian-Italian artist created canvases that explored time and space by slashing them with razors. These works will soon be on display at the Met in an exhibition titled ‘Lucio Fontana: On the Threshold.’ You can view some of them at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, then walk five blocks to the Met Breuer for the remainder of the exhibition. Expect to see canvases in red, gold, pink, white, green and blue, all with different sizes and amounts of cuts. Fontana was one of the first artists to combine art and technology, and has also created canvases with holes and exhibitions out of neon lights. His previous works were displayed in the Tate Modern, Robilant and Voena and the National Gallery of Victoria. Fontana died in 1968, but has remained influential long after his passing.

Trinidad/Joy Station and Nomad 13 by Beatriz Cortez

Jan 27-May 12, 2019 – Craft & Folk Art Museum

Image courtesy:


El Salvador-born Beatriz Cortez celebrates indigenous people with Trinidad/Joy Station, an exhibition showcasing a future of communal living. For this piece, the 30-year-old artist created geodesic domelike structures in muted grey, teal and yellow hues to portray a potential post-war living environment. This work is aesthetically inspired by the utopian Drop City structure, which was created in Trinidad, Colorado in the 60s, and is conceptually modeled off Mayan ideals of collective anti-capitalist living. Cortez evokes further emotion through a series of painful-looking beds made of Mylar and chain-link fencing materials that represent today’s refugee crisis.

For Nomad 13, Cortez collaborated with Rafa Esparza, a Mexican-American artist known for creating installations that showcase the displacement of Latino communities. The result is a shelter made of steel and adobe bricks, complete with plants that were once cultivated by the Incas, Aztecs and Mayans. The adaptive structure allows people to live and grow plants in outerspace, ensuring fresh food and retaining the practices of indigenous people. Both of these works showcase shelter and survival in the past, present and future, with cultural references that give a nod to immigration, war and economic equality. You can view them from January 27-May 12 at the Craft & Folk Art Museum in NYC.Cortez has shown her works in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Miami, Texas and her native El Salvador. She currently resides in LA and teaches in the Department of Central American Studies at California State University.

Eric N Mack: Lemme Walk Across the Room

 January 11-July 7, 2019 – Brooklyn Museum

Image Courtesy:


Eric Mack appreciated art at a young age. His parents worked at D.C.’s National Gallery of Art, so Mack grew up viewing paintings by Raphael, Lichtenstein, Picasso and Monet. He moved to New York at age 17 to study at the Cooper Union, then attended Yale School of Art and earned his MFA in painting and printmaking. Mack, now 32, will have his first-ever solo exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum this month. The installation includes a series of textiles manipulated with colorful paintings, draping and deconstructed techniques. Mack draws from architecture, sculpture, hip-hop music and fashion to create his unique, conceptual works. The artist likes to work with recycled fabrics, and cites Raf Simons and Nicholas Ghesquière as his favorite fashion designers. Most recently, Mack showcased his textile art at the Simon Lee Gallery in London in 2017. Before that, he showcased a selection of works in an exhibition called Vogue Fabrics at the Albright-Knox Gallery in Buffalo, NY. You can view Eric Mack’s ‘Lemme Walk Across the Room’ from January 11-July 7.

Implicit Tensions: Mapplethorpe Now

January 25–July 10, 2019, July 24, 2019–January 5, 2020 – Guggenheim Museum

Image courtesy: Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation


In the 60s, Robert Mapplethorpe photographed artists, musicians and porn stars in black and white. He also showcased the BDSM subculture, and took self-portaits that explored different parts of his identity. Just in time for the 30th anniversary of Robert Mapplethorpe’s death, the Guggenheim will showcase the famed photographer’s most prominent works.

We can expect to see photos of Iggy Pop, Truman Capote and Grace Jones, along with photos of nude men and women, and self-portraits of Mapplethorpe posing as a thug and a transvestite. Mapplethorpe, who was born in Queens, died of AIDS in 1989. He founded the Mapplethorpe Foundation shortly before his death to benefit AIDS and HIV research and support photography as an art.

His work, which was once controversial, has heavily influenced other portrait photographers like Lyle Ashton Harris, Catherine Opie, and Paul Mpagi Sepuya. Works by these artists will be displayed as a second part of the exhibition, beginning on July 24, 2019.

Teresa Hubbard/Alexander Birchler: Flora

 January 20-April 7, 2019 – LACMA

Image courtesy:


Teresa Hubbard and Alexander Birchler spent more than 10 years gathering information on Flora Mayo’s life and recently turned it into a film. The 30-minute biography detailing Mayo’s life will play on loop at the LACMA this month. The film portrays the late Mayo, an artist and sculptor, as a female who was under-credited throughout her life. In the film’s opening line, Mayo says, “I was headstrong, impulsive and romantic—and in many ways a bit of a savage. There are reasons for that.” The work demonstrates Mayo’s life in Denver, Paris and California told through diary entries and narrated by her son, David, and touches on her romance with famous Swiss sculptor Alberto Giacometti in the 1920s. Hubbard and Birchler debuted ‘Flora’ it in 2017 at the Venice Biennale’s Swiss Pavilion, with hopes to pay homage to feminism in art and reveal a new side of Mayo to the public.

What To Wear To The Museum: 


Words by: Hayley Lind


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