Our guide to new art shows and some that will be closing soon.
‘THOMAS BAYRLE: PLAYTIME’ at the New Museum (through Sept. 2). In the digital fever dream of Mr. Bayrle’s work, pixelated pictures twist and bend and resolve into fuzzily warped images. Abstract films and videos pulse with psychedelic patterns. But if Mr. Bayrle’s art seems like the ultimate in early computer design, most of the 115 paintings, prints, films and sculptures in his first major New York retrospective are actually handcrafted, generally using his signature “superform” of a large image made up of hundreds or thousands of smaller ones. Ultimately, Mr. Bayrle’s work instead offers a window into digital thinking or, it could be said, how we got to where we are now. (Martha Schwendener)
‘BEING: NEW PHOTOGRAPHY 2018’ at the Museum of Modern Art (through Aug. 19). At the last survey of new photography at MoMA two years ago, the atmosphere was so self-referential and hermetic that a visitor panted for oxygen. It seemed as if photography, which continued to engage with the world after modernist painting and literature turned inward, had finally crumpled into solipsism. A lot can change in two years. In response to the last exhibition and to the intervening political upheavals, this show offers a broader and more stimulating range of work from 17 artists — two of whom collaborate as a team — all under 45. Its rubric proves capacious enough to include portraiture, reportage, fashion and pretty much everything you can turn a camera on. Although questions of racial and gender identity and politics perfume the air, the best photography in the show touches lightly, if at all, on these subjects. (Arthur Lubow)
‘HUMA BHABHA: WE COME IN PEACE’ at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (through Oct. 28). This spare and unsettling sculptural installation for the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Roof Garden Commission includes two figures: one that is somewhat humanoid but with a ferocious mask-face and that visually dwarfs the jagged Manhattan skyline behind it, and another bowing in supplication or prayer, with long cartoonish human hands and a scraggly tail emerging from its shiny, black drapery. The title is a variant on the line an alien uttered to an anxious crowd in the 1951 science fiction movie “The Day the Earth Stood Still,” but it ripples with other associations: colonization, invasion, imperialism or missionaries and other foreigners whose intentions were not always innocent. The installation also feels like an extension of the complex, cross-cultural conversation going on downstairs, inside a museum packed with 5,000 years of art history. (Schwendener)
‘CANOVA’S GEORGE WASHINGTON’ at the Frick Collection (through Sept. 23). When Canova’s statue arrived in Raleigh, N.C., in 1821, the American press went wild for the likeness by the Italian neoclassical sculptor of the first president, wearing Roman military dress and drafting his farewell address. Ten years later it was destroyed by fire — but the Frick has brought the full-scale plaster model of the lost statue over from Italy for this smashing show that reveals how European artists were inspired by American revolutionary ideals. Canova’s Washington, looming all alone over the Frick’s circular gallery, wears thickly curled hair instead of the pulled-back style he sports on the dollar bill, and in both his costume (leather skirt, strappy sandals) and his bearing, he embodies the ideals of the new republic, where principles come before power. Supplementary materials include a life mask of Washington and several smaller Canova models, including a nude Washington with some rather nice pecs. (Jason Farago)
‘CHARTING THE DIVINE PLAN: THE ART OF ORRA WHITE HITCHCOCK’ at the American Folk Art Museum (through Oct. 14). Love in the time of science — that could serve as the catchphrase for this ravishing exhibition of botanical and geological illustration from America’s first decades. Born in progressive Amherst, Mass., a few years after the Revolution, Orra White received a first-rate scientific education like few girls of her day; later, with her beloved husband, Edward Hitchcock, she painted the plants, reeds, flowers and mushrooms of New England in exquisite folios. Later, Edward became president of Amherst College, and Orra painted and drew large-scale illustrations for his lessons: Paleolithic skeletons, brightly striped cross sections of volcanic earth, a massive octopus munching on a three-masted schooner. Where the plant and mushroom paintings are delicate and painstakingly exact, the classroom aids are boldly imaginative — but both are evidence of an extraordinary life in which carnal love and religious conviction intertwined with scientific discovery. (Farago)
‘SUE COE: GRAPHIC RESISTANCE’ at MoMA PS 1 (through Sept. 9). In the East Village in the early 1980s, this British-American artist showed some of the strongest political art of the day, and in the most traditional of media: figurative painting, drawing and printmaking. But her kind of directness has had a hard time in a market-driven world that favors the convenient slipperiness of ambiguity. As a result, Ms. Coe was left out of many of the big “political” shows of the 1980s and ’90s, and has had spotty visibility since. Some the artist’s great early pieces are in this long overdue survey, including the 1983 mural-size collage painting titled “Woman Walks Into Bar — Is Raped by Four Men on the Pool Table — While 20 Watch.” The show also features later pictures like “Road to White House” (1992) and selections from her recent sketchbooks. Together they indicate that her style has changed over the years, growing at once more abstract and more naturalistic, but her view of the ethical mission of art has not. (Holland Cotter)