Labor Day Art Guide: Summer Shows to See Before They Close

Labor Day Art Guide: Summer Shows to See Before They Close

‘BRAZILIAN MODERN: THE LIVING ART OF ROBERTO BURLE MARX’ at the New York Botanical Garden (through Sept. 29). The garden’s largest-ever botanical exhibition pays tribute to Brazil’s most renowned landscape architect with lush palm trees and vivid plants, along with a display of paintings and tapestries. In the late 1960s and early ’70s, Marx (1909-94) planted bright bands of monochrome plants along Rio’s Copacabana Beach and the fresh ministries of Brasília, then the new capital. For this show, the garden and its greenhouses synthesize his achievements into a free-form paean rich with Brazilian species, some of which he discovered himself. (Alcantarea burle-marxii, one of many thick-fronded bromeliads here, has leaves as tall as a 10-year-old.) Check the weather, make sure it’s sunny, then spend all day breathing in this exuberant gust of tropical modernism. (Jason Farago) 718-817-8700, nybg.org

‘MARTA MINUJÍN: MENESUNDA RELOADED’ at New Museum (through Sept. 29). One of the best shows of the summer returns to a legendary moment of midcentury avant-gardism with the vividness of time travel. It replicates with convincing accuracy a funky D.I.Y. multichamber labyrinth created in Buenos Aires in 1965 by the young Argentine artist Marta Minujín, assisted by the artist Ruben Santanonin. The work’s title, “La Menesunda,” is, appropriately, slang for “a confusing situation,” and the immersive combination of happening, performance and installation manifested in cheap, colorful materials makes it so. (Smith) 212-219-1222, newmuseum.org

‘PHENOMENAL NATURE: MRINALINI MUKHERJEE’ at the Met Breuer (through Sept. 29). You almost forget that art has the power to startle — to make you wonder “How on earth did someone even think to do this, never mind do it?” — until you see a show like this survey of sculptures by Mukherjee (1949-2015), an Indian artist. Roughly half are figure-like forms made from hemp ropes worked in a knotted macramé technique of finger-aching ingenuity and titled with generic names of pre-Hindu nature spirits and fertility deities. Smaller, ceramic pieces, flame shaped and midnight black, suggest Buddhas. Late cast bronze sculptures look both botanical and bestial. The result isn’t folk art or design or fiber art or religious art or feminist art. It’s modern art of deep originality. And it’s an astonishment. (Cotter) 212-731-1635, metmuseum.org

‘CHARLOTTE POSENENSKE: WORK IN PROGRESS’ at Dia Art Foundation in Beacon, N.Y. (through Sept. 9). This Hudson Valley institution continues its satisfying enlargement of its roll call of Miminalists and Conceptualists with a major showcase of this German artist, who showed her modular, industrially inspired sculptures alongside Donald Judd and Frank Stella in the late 1960s, but then abandoned art for sociology. Posenenske’s most important works were free-standing pipes, made of sheet steel or cardboard, that look almost exactly like commercial air ducts. Unlike some of the control freaks whose art is also on view here, Posenenske made her art in infinite editions, out of parts that can be arranged in any shape you like: a generous distribution of authorship from the artist to her fabricators and collectors. (Farago) diaart.org

‘RENOIR: THE BODY, THE SENSES’ at the Clark Art Institute (through Sept. 22). Go for the stunning review of the great Impressionist’s career told in female nudes, whether paintings, drawings and sculptures. Stay for works by his predecessors, peers and heirs from Boucher to Delacroix to Picasso. Your senses will thank you. (Smith) clarkart.edu.

‘IDA O’KEEFFE: ESCAPING GEORGIA’S SHADOW’ at the Clark Art Institute (through Oct. 14). This poignant exhibition introduces an overlooked painter who had few of the advantages of her older sister Georgia, especially the leisure to paint full time. Her excursions into Precisionism, Social Realism and Modernism were always remarkable. No thanks to her older sister or that sister’s Svengali, Alfred Stieglitz, as the catalog makes startlingly clear. (Smith) clarkart.edu.

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