The 5 Best New York Art Gallery Shows You Need To See This Season

What better way to avoid talk of the election and your family over the holidays than to spend an afternoon visiting gallery shows in New York? It’s not proper etiquette to speak in loud voices in the hallowed halls of an exhibition space, after all. Below, we round up five gallery shows you can’t miss before the year is up.

Nikki Maloof
After Midnight
Jack Hanley Gallery
327 Broome Street (between Grand and Broome Streets)
November 17–December 18, 2016

Don’t be fooled by the cartoonish appearance of Nikki Maloof’s paintings. The canvases are full of emotional depth and ripe with art historical references to Dutch and Flemish still life painting. Inspired by creatures that come almost entirely from Maloof’s imagination, the compositions depict animals whose faces bear human expressions—a tiger looks over his shoulder with fear, a furry bat with weariness. They could be illustrations of Aesop’s Fables set in the modern era, where the natural world is fast disappearing, and animals look on with disgust and sadness as humans make error after error. Maloof received her MFA from Yale in 2011; this is her first solo exhibition at Jack Hanley.

William Eggleston
The Democratic Forest
David Zwirner Gallery
519, 525, and 533 W 19th Street (between 10th and 11th Avenues)
Through December 17, 2016

Courtesy of David Zwirner Gallery

Given recent events, it can be difficult to remember that we are a nation united in more than just a name. Photographer William Eggleston has been documenting the quotidian aspects of American life in striking flashes of color for almost six decades. The Democratic Forest consists of 40 photographs culled from 10,000 negatives that Eggleston took in the mid-1980s while traveling across the southern and eastern parts of America and in several European countries. Capturing abandoned food stands, picnic tables, garages, and abandoned interiors, the photographs are saturated with color and largely devoid of human presence. Although they were taken almost three decades ago, they still seem contemporary—no matter what has changed technologically, Eggleston’s America, pregnant with beauty and concerned with the classic, remain. This is Eggleston’s first exhibition with Zwirner since the gallery began representing him.

Michael Mandiberg
FDIC Insured
The Art-in-Buildings Financial District Project Space with Denny Gallery
261 Broome Street (between Allen and Orchard Streets)
Through December 15, 2016

It may seem as though our politicians have forgotten the 2008 financial crisis, but Michael Mandiberg has ensured that we won’t fail to remember the banks that collapsed as a result of it. Consisting of cast–off investment guidebooks inscribed with the abandoned logos of the 527 banks that have failed to date, the exhibition is something of a burial ground for corporate branding. Mandiberg began the project in 2008, when he discovered that when a bank failed, the FDIC and the acquiring institution erased the bank’s visual identity from the Internet. Appropriately, the exhibition is held in a recently vacated office suite on the 15th floor of 40 Rector Street in the heart of New York’s Financial District.

Something Possible Everywhere: Pier 34 NYC, 1983–84
205 Hudson Gallery
205 Hudson Street (Entrance on Canal Street between Hudson and Greenwich Streets)
Through November 20, 2016

Many say the New York hospitable to artists has all but disappeared among the glass condominiums and soaring prices of the modern city, but vestiges remain in the artwork still shown in galleries. Something Possible Everywhere: Pier 34 NYC, 1983–84 is an exhibition that features a decrepit city-owned pier at the end of Canal Street that was transformed into a performance space, studio, and kunsthalle by the artists who inhabited it in the midst of the AIDS crisis. Helmed by David Wojnarowicz and his friends and peers, including Kiki Smith, Ruth Kligman and Mike Bidlo, the pier housed a community that felt it was not tolerated by the gallery system. 30 years later, the community has mostly been engulfed by the art world. What remains are the photographs of the pier by Andreas Sterzing, which are on display along with related imagery by Peter Hujar, Marisela La Grave, and Dirk Rowntree, as well as, 75 paintings, drawings, and sculptures made by artists who worked on the pier.

Liu Wei
Lehmann Maupin
201 Chrystie Street (between Stanton Street and Rivington Street)
536 West 22nd Street (between 21st and 22nd Streets)
Through December 17, 2016

Courtesy of Lehmann Maupin

Spread across the gallery’s two locations in Chelsea and the Lower East Side, this exhibition of works by Liu Wei explores facets of contemporary society with an impassive eye. A sculptural installation in the Chelsea location is inspired by the Jorge Luis Borges poem Mirrors (1960), which reads “…Everything happens and nothing is recorded, In these rooms of the looking glass…” Any wall of the gallery not hung with a series of paintings in various shades of gray contains a mirror, which reflects back the surface of the paintings and the viewers themselves, creating a disjointed effect. On the Lower East Side, all of the artworks are gathered in the center of the room. Paintings that resemble views of a horizon are painted on irregularly–shaped pieces of steel; they are mixed with a sculptural installation that consists of mirrors, military canvas, metal, and wood. The exhibition effectively mimics how we receive and process information in our smartphone–dominated existences.