Must-See Art | Mar 2017 Must-see art exhibitions in New York right now


By Nicole Bray, Contemporary Art Consultant |


Raymond Pettibon
A Pen of All Work
February 8, 2017 – April 9, 2017
New Museum
235 Bowery, New York

Jesus, Charles Manson, Joan Crawford, a Surfer, the Apocalypse, and Gumby, are just a handful of the images dominating Raymond Pettibon’s 700-piece show of annotated drawings. More than ever, the language of advertising, the media, and politics been more pervasive, and no one has captured the link between language and image better than Raymond Pettibone. Dominated by images captured in pen and ink, and sometimes paint, with handwritten phrases and sentences, above and below, Pettibone’s work demonstrates his signature gestural energy combined with prickly, manic, and illogical language lifted from B-movies, classical literature, and everyday rants. Mr. Pettibon is, with gratifying regularity, a sharp political critic. His targets can be quite specific from the hippie movement of the 1960s to the American war in Iraq. His entire output, despite the strains of nostalgia and humor, is a steady indictment of American culture as he has lived it over the past 60 years.

Inventing Downtown: Artist-Run Galleries in New York City, 1952–1965
January 10, 2017 – April 1, 2017
Grey Art Gallery, New York University
100 Washington Square East, New York

By 1952, Abstract Expressionism (Ab Ex) was the big American deal, since it was credited as the art that won the culture war with Europe. Americans liked muscle, ego and size, all of which Ab Ex embraced. However, not everyone was thrilled by Abstract Expressionism. Some artists and dealers were tired of abstraction; they wanted to paint people and nature, tell stories, or try out crazy new forms that had merged in art and theater. For others, politics, and art’s expression of it, was of immediate concern. So, the only guaranteed way these artists could achieve their goals was by opening galleries of their own, and that, they did. Grey Art Gallery presents a historiographic survey of thinking, making, showing, and collaborating during a pivotal moment in the history of New York City’s avant-garde. The exhibition, which starts at Fifty-One East Fourth Street (Tanager Gallery) and travels all the way up to Fifteen West Fifty-Seventh Street (Green Gallery), introduces us to the nascent and crackerjack happenings from some of New York’s finest and most renowned artists.

Vija Celmins
Vija Celmins
February 10, 2017 – April 15, 2017
Matthew Marks Gallery
522 West 22nd Street , New York

For more than four decades, Vija Celmin (Vee-ya Sell-min) has worked late into the night obsessively drawing and painting her most beloved subjects, the dark sky, the surfaces of the ocean, the moon, and the desert, without horizon or perspective. At 78 years old, she is a beloved figure in the art world. Starting out in Los Angeles in the 1960’s with the photo-realist painters like Ed Ruscha, it was always thought that her dark night skies were made for the California sun to backlight them. Her ocean surface paintings were inspired by the photographs she had taken from the Venice Beach pier back in 1968. Now living in New York, it has been seven years since her last show and the art world has yearned for this show of beauty and soft power, filled with distilled intensity and quiet dignity.

artREAL contributor Nicole Bray is the founder of Mercer Contemporary and guides private and corporate clients through each step of acquiring, selling, managing, and displaying artwork. She received her Masters in Contemporary Art (Hons.) from Sotheby’s Institute of Art, New York. She was the recipient of the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation, Emerging Curator Fellowship 2015, and has worked at both an Auction House and for a distinguished private family. If you would like to contact Nicole, or if you are interested in starting your own collection, please email her at or visit

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