(Joyce) #1

12 THENEWYORKER,MARCH16, 2020


arrangements on past albums, his 2017 release,
“Salvavidas de Hielo,” was a return to the
acoustic folksiness and lyrical storytelling that
give him the quality of a woodsy troubadour
from another era. The songs are already bucolic
and minimal, but he promises to strip things
back even more for “Silente,” an intimate tour
he’s bringing to the U.S. for the first time after
stretches in seventeen other countries.—Julyssa
Lopez (March 15.)


Kalie Shorr


Mercury Lounge
The Nashville-based singer-songwriter Kalie
Shorr is up front about her propensity to bare
it all and sometimes overshare. “Too Much
to Say,” the first track on her début album,
“Open Book,” from last year, puts the listener
on notice: “I’ve got more unclaimed baggage
than an airport lost and found.” Luckily, her
voice is winsome enough to offset her tough-
country-girl veneer, and it goes to work on a
surfeit of memorable turns of phrase, such as
when she admits to “taking advice from my
vices.”—K. Leander Williams (March 16.)


Aventura


Radio City Music Hall
Like many boy bands of the early two-thou-
sands, Aventura drew screaming, starry-eyed
fans to stadium shows with honeyed melo-
dies and aching romance. But the Bronx-born
quartet was markedly different from other
groups: they enraptured audiences by mixing
traditional bachata with modern pop, rap, and
R. &B. The lead singer, Romeo Santos, known
for his whispered, impossibly high-pitched
vocal delivery, broke out as a major solo artist
in 2011, but the band members have reunited
for “Inmortal,” their first tour in ten years—
proof of their lasting allure.—J.L. (March 16-
and March 22.)


Rod Wave


Webster Hall
In another life and time, the Florida rapper
Rod Wave would’ve been a bluesman. His
wrenching songs transform pain—ceaseless,
existential pain—into raw and soulful hip-hop
that can snatch the breath from your chest;
there is nothing glamorous about the hustle,
nothing redemptive about the violence, no
glory in his suffering. And yet his latest re-
lease, “Ghetto Gospel,” like the projects that
came before it, is captivating and beautiful
in its unblinking humanity, anchored by raps
seamlessly commingled with singing.—B.Y.
(March 17.)


1


A RT


“Cauleen Smith: Mutualities”
Whitney Museum
Smith’s hand-sewn banners were a highlight
of the 2017 Whitney Biennial; vibrant and
mournful indictments of slavery’s long after-
math, they hung from the museum’s ceiling.
Another example of Smith’s radical heraldry


relation to them, and to the space that you
and they share. As installed by the curator
Ann Temkin, with perfectly paced samples
of Judd’s major motifs—among them, floor-
to-ceiling “stacks” of shelflike units, mostly
of metal-framed, tinted Plexiglas, which ex-
pose and flavor the space they occupy—the
second of the show’s four big rooms amounts
to a Monument Valley of the minimalist
sublime. Don’t miss it. The chance surely
won’t recur to take the measure of an artist
whose influence on our art and, sub rosa,
our lives in common, remains beyond large,
engulfing.—Peter Schjeldahl. (Through July 11.)

“Peter Saul”
New Museum
The timeliest as well as the rudest painting
show of this winter happens to be the first-ever
New York museum survey of this American
aesthetic rapscallion. Recognition so delayed
bemuses almost as much as a reminder of the
artist’s current age: eighty-five, which seems
impossible. Saul’s cartoony style—raucously
grotesque, often with contorted figures en-
gaged in (and quite enjoying) intricate vio-
lence, caricatures of politicians from Nixon to
Trump that come off as much fond as fierce,
and cheeky travesties of classic paintings by
Rembrandt, Picasso, and de Kooning—sug-
gests the gall of an adolescent allowed to run
amok. It takes time to become aware of how
well Saul paints, with lyrically kinetic, inter-
twined forms and an improbable approxima-
tion of chiaroscuro, managed with neon-toned
Day-Glo acrylics. He sneaks whispery formal
nuances into works whose predominant effect
may be as subtle as that of a steel garbage can
being kicked downstairs. Not everyone takes
the time. Saul’s effrontery has long driven
fastidious souls, including me years ago, from
galleries. Now I see him as part of a story of art
and culture that has been unspooling since the
nineteen-fifties; one in which Saul, formerly
a pariah, seems ever more a paladin.— P. S.
(Through May 31.)

“Vida Americana”
Whitney Museum
The subtitle of this thumpingly great show,
“Mexican Muralists Remake American Art,
1924-1945,” picks an overdue art-historical
fight. The usual story of American art in those
two decades revolves around young, often im-
migrant aesthetes striving to absorb European
modernism. A triumphalist tale composed
backward from its climax—the postwar suc-
cess of Abstract Expressionism—it brushes
aside the prevalence, in the thirties, of polit-
ically themed figurative art: social realism,
more or less, which became ideologically
toxic with the onset of the Cold War. What
to do with the mighty legacy of the time’s big
three Mexican painters, Diego Rivera, José
Clemente Orozco, and David Alfaro Siquei-
ros? As little as possible has seemed the rule,
despite the seminal influence of Orozco and
Siqueiros on the young Jackson Pollock. But,
with some two hundred works by sixty artists
and abundant documentary material, the cu-
rator Barbara Haskell reweaves the sense and
sensations of the era to bring it alive. Without
the Mexican precedents of amplified scale and
passionate vigor, the development of Abstract

appears in the centerpiece of this small, pow-
erful show on the Whitney’s fifth floor: her
short film “Sojourner,” from 2018. A group of
black women, dressed in glamorous, futurist
ensembles, solemnly carry orange signs em-
blazoned with quotes by the jazz legend Alice
Coltrane. (“At dawn, sit at the feet of action”
reads one; “At noon, be the hand of might”
reads another.) Painterly cinematography
unites a fragmented pilgrimage to a beach,
a protest rally in Chicago, and the Watts
Towers, in Los Angeles. The film concludes
at the sculptor Noah Purifoy’s otherworldly
outdoor museum in Joshua Tree National
Park, where the procession of women settles
to listen to a 1977 recording of a statement
issued by the black-feminist group the Com-
bahee River Collective. If the imagery in
“Sojourner” looks familiar, it’s because Smith
has reimagined Bill Ray’s 1966 photo essay
for Life magazine, which documented young
men in Watts a year after the 1965 riots. By
casting her stylish ensemble as insurgent
women regrouping in a suspenseful pre- or
post-revolutionary pause, Smith merges uto-
pian futurism with wistful revision.—Johanna
Fateman (Through May 17.)

“Dorothea Lange”
Museum of Modern Art
Lange began her influential thirty-year ca-
reer as a photographer and social crusader
doing field work with her husband, the econ-
omist Paul Taylor, producing reports that
the government handed out to promote the
New Deal. (Imagine the Trump Adminis-
tration hiring artists to expose the plight
of the working poor.) Language—including
the handwritten notes that accompanied her
pictures—was central to Lange’s project. The
exhibition “Words & Pictures,” intelligently
curated by Sarah Hermanson Meister, gives
equal respect to her photographic prints
(ninety-six) and her publications (seven, in
handsome shadow boxes and vitrines). Her
best-known images are of indelible faces in
hardscrabble places; an entire wall of the
show is devoted to Florence Owens Thomp-
son, the subject of Lange’s famous “Migrant
Mother,” taken in 1936. But she also had a
humane eye for text, like the hand-painted
sign she encountered at a California gas station
in 1938: “This is your country don’t let the big
men take it away from you.”—Andrea K. Scott
(Through May 9.)

“Judd”
Museum of Modern Art
Donald Judd was the last great revolutionary
of modern art. The gorgeous boxy objects—
he refused to call them sculptures—that the
American artist constructed between the early
nineteen-sixties and his death, from cancer,
in 1994, irreversibly altered the character of
Western aesthetic experience. They displaced
traditional contemplation with newfangled
confrontation. That’s the key trope of Min-
imalism, a term that Judd despised but one
that will tag him until the end of time. His
works register as material propositions of
certain principles—chiefly, openness and
clarity. They aren’t about anything. They
afford no traction for analysis while making
you more or less conscious of your physical