And Nowhere A Shadow at Dutch Design Week

At Dutch Design Week, London-based studio Cohen Van Balen exhibited this bizarre concept for a design that could help save the endangered gray wolf. They created metal prongs to attached to blueberry bushes that would reach out and massage live wolves to encourage them to eat genetically modified blueberries filled with rabies vaccines. The contraptions would be powered by the wolves’ movements, and an infrared camera would film and broadcast these hacked-blueberry munching mammals, turning conservation into entertainment.

Grow Your Own: Life After Nature at Trinity College Dublin’s Science Gallery

This show about synthetic biology, an emerging field of genetic engineering, includes concepts for a mouse cloned from Elvis Presley’s DNA, a human-born dolphin, and cheese cultured from bacteria found in human armpits, toes, and noses. Twenty-one scientists, engineers, biohackers, artists, and designers explore what it might mean to design from the DNA up, addressing questions like, “How might designed life merge into our own? Where is the boundary between our things and our selves: the designed products that we consume, and our own bodies and identities?” On view until January 19.

Mike Kelley: A Retrospective at MoMA PS1

The dark and awe-inspiring Mike Kelley: A Retrospective, the first major exhibition to occupy all three floors of MoMA PS1, pays homage to one of the most important artists of our time, whose career was tragically cut short when he committed suicide in 2012. Highlights include “Deodorized Central Mass With Satellites,” a larger-than-life mobile made from clusters of rainbow stuffed animals; glowing crystal renditions of Superman’s home planet, Krypton; and a re-staging of his “Pansy Metal/Clovered Hoof” performance piece, in which dancers clad in silk capes twitch and jerk along to "Orgasmatron" by Motorhead. On view until February 2, 2014.

Donald Judd: Stacks at Mnuchin Gallery

Some people think Judd’s work looks like Ikea shelves; but others are cultishly devoted to the late artist, making pilgrimages to Marfa, Texas, to see his pioneering minimalist sculptures in the desert, and creating bumper stickers printed with "WWDJD?" ("What would Donald Judd do?") Mnuchin Gallery presented the first-ever complete exhibition of Judd's metal and Plexiglass "Stacks" sculptures, dating from 1968 to 1990. These elegant explorations of color and space are the artist's best-known legacy.

The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk at the Brooklyn Museum

It’s not often that an artist or designer actually lives to see a major museum retrospective of his work: those are usually reserved for canonizing the departed. But a still-spry 66-year-old fashion icon Gaultier is honored in this extensive exhibition, which includes his famous cone bra designed for Madonna’s Blonde Ambition tour; Beth Ditto’s corset, Beyonce’s glittery jumpsuit, and the ace-bandage costume Milla Jovovich wore in The Fifth Element. From avant-garde punk fashions to elegant mermaid dresses, the work here solidifies Gaultier’s legacy as one of the most important designers of our time. On view at the Brooklyn Museum until February 23.

The Line King's Library at the New York Public Library's Donald & Mary Oenslager Gallery

The Line King’s Library is the largest yet exhibition of legendary cartoonist Al Hirschfeld’s artwork and archival material. Hirschfeld spent 82 years translating Broadway stars into dazzling pen-and-ink drawings, from Carrol Channing to Whoopi Goldberg to Marlon Brando. It was often said that his caricatures looked more like the person they represented than the person himself--they uncannily captured a character’s essence. On view until January 4.

Isabella Blow: Fashion Galore! at London’s Somerset House

London’s Somerset House presents 100 pieces from the wild and wooly wardrobe of the late Isabella Blow, who wore a lobster headpiece before Lady Gaga was even invented. The muse of hat designer Philip Treacy was famous for her elaborate headgear, which often obscured her face, as she was convinced she was “ugly.” Pieces from Julien Macdonald, Fendi, Viktor & Rolf, Escada, Prada, Jeremy Scott, and Marni are displayed here: the sartorial diary of one of fashion’s most irreverent and original characters. On view until March 2.

Out of Hand: Materializing the Post-Digital at the Museum of Art and Design in New York

This ambitious exhibition presents cutting-edge works of digital fabrication of more than 80 international designers and artists. Highlights include a model for a 3-D printed house; a “liquid glacial smoke” coffee table by Zaha Hadid; Chuck Close’s digitally woven self-portraits; Wim Delvoye’s gothic-cathedral inspired Twisted Dump Truck; and Iris Van Herpen’s 3-D printed “digital escapism” dresses. On view until June 1.

Soundings: A Contemporary Score at the Museum of Modern Art
MoMA’s first major exhibition devoted exclusively to sound art presents the work of 16 artists who approach sound with a kind of synesthetic thinking, representing it visually and conceptually instead of musically. Showcased here are industrial grindings, insect calls, atonal hums, bleeps, and squelches--there’s not a single verse or chorus to be heard.

Today We Reboot the Planet at the Serpentine Sackler Gallery

Like surreal post-apocalyptic rubble, the large-scale clay sculptures of Adrian Villar Rojas include a mummified Kurt Cobain; an elephant in downward-facing dog pose, and a reinterpretation of Michelangelo’s David. His fossil-like characters are intentionally doomed to deterioration--the clay is never fired in a kiln, and surface cracks slowly form over the course of the exhibition. Soon, they’ll crumble and return to dust. His work tests the limits of the ancient medium of clay and offers a poignant comment on the nature of time.


The Best Art Shows Of 2013

With exhibitions presenting crazy bio-hacks, Isabella Blow's wild and woolly wardrobe, and Mike Kelley's "perversions of mass culture," 2013 was an important year in the art world. See 10 of our favorite exhibitions here.

From Gaultier’s punk-chic fashions to Donald Judd’s minimalist Stacks to Al Hirschfeld's essence-capturing cartoons, the art exhibits mounted this year were some of the best ever. In some quarters, it was a year for artists to share their visions of a zany, bio-hacked future: the shows And Nowhere A Shadow and Grow Your Own explored how synthetic biology will soon allow us to design from the DNA up, whether it’s blueberry plants containing rabies vaccines or cheese made from the bacteria of a human toe. The art world in 2014 will no doubt continue to embrace cutting-edge technology in art, from 3D-printing to digital weaving.

Other major exhibitions this year looked to the past, remembering late artists and designers like Mike Kelley and Isabella Blow, whose careers were both tragically cut short. We also saw a number of firsts in the art world: MoMA presented its first show devoted exclusively to sound art, the Kelley exhibit was the first to fill up all three floors of MoMA’s PS1 building, and up-and-coming Argentine artist Adrian Villar Rojas had his first major show. Above, 10 of our favorite art exhibitions of 2013.

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