Summer Art Trek: Gallery Hopping in the Hudson Valley

The day will come this month when you’ll feel compelled to flee the city, at least for an afternoon. Luckily the visionaries of the New York art world have built a number of entrancing destinations around which to organize an easy day trip or a relaxing weekend. With the exception of Jack Shainman’s the School, in Kinderhook (roughly a two-and-a-half-hour drive from Manhattan), all these art institutions are accessible by MetroNorth. (Remember to check opening — and closing — times.) And if this partial list leaves you wanting more, consider stopping by Art Omi, Bard College’s Hessel Museum of Art, the Ice House and River Valley Arts Collective.


Kinderhook, N.y.

In the elfin village of Kinderhook, the gallerist Jack Shainman has transformed the former Martin Van Buren High School into a large exhibition space called the School. The details of its build-out may be a little more sumptuous than the mission really calls for. But that only makes it a better setting for “Basquiat x Warhol,” an unforgettable exhibition of the collaborative paintings made by Jean-Michel Basquiat and Andy Warhol in the mid-1980s, contextualized by an extensive display of solo works.

It’s no surprise that the two men overlapped socially — but artistically they could hardly have been less alike. The work on display here captures Warhol at his most inventive. Pieces like a 1983 silk-screen of a triple-exposed Robert Mapplethorpe show the kind of complexity he could put into an image. A series of portraits of New York drag performers, men for whom surface appearances — the way they made up their faces — carried real personal and political weight, are searing.

We even get a few examples of how beautifully he could draw, most notably in a gigantic Last Supper riff that debuted in Milan across the street from Leonardo da Vinci’s. But you still don’t forget the surface Warhol usually focused on, an opaque and shimmery scrim that to me seems like an inadequate disguise for the bottomless void behind it.

Basquiat, on the other hand, drew with a stuttering line that could never be mistaken for anything but an expression of his own electric personality. You see it in the paintings. You see it in nearly four dozen marker-on-dinner-plate portraits of artists he admired — Picasso is represented by a couple of squinty eyes, while Matisse gets a pair of scissors.

And you see it in the wiry, exquisitely placed bones of his white-on-black screen print series “Anatomy.” Marvel at the deadpan humor and philosophical economy of a print showing four parallel views of a single right humerus — back, front, left and right. Though the piece asserts, by including them, that each view is different, it also puts the difference in proportion, because they really all do look just about the same. Then slip into the adjoining gallery to see “Side View of an Oxen’s Jaw,” a bone-white, blood-pink, finger-scrawled painting of unfathomable depth and magical doubleness.

Through Sept. 7 at the School, 25 Broad Street, Kinderhook, N.Y.; 518-758-1628, jackshainman.com.


Beacon, N.Y.

In Beacon, start at the expansive and gorgeous Dia Art Foundation, where the current exhibitions — including Charlotte Posenenske and Lee Ufan, which my colleague Jason Farago recently wrote about, and the pioneering early abstractions of Sam Gilliam (opening there Aug. 10) — will keep you busy till lunchtime.

Walking up the hill and along the town’s frantically gentrifying but still idyllic Main Street, you’ll find excellent sandwiches at the Pantry and artisanal Mexican-style paletas at Zora Dora. On your way back to the train, stop at two exciting new galleries — Parts & Labor and Mother — sharing a former hotel building on North Avenue (both are open on weekends and by appointment only).

Dia:Beacon, 3 Beekman Street, Beacon, N.Y.; 845-440-0100, diaart.org.

Three years after moving out of the city to nearby Cold Spring, the Lower East Side gallerist Nicelle Beauchene has teamed up with the Upper East Side gallerist Franklin Parrasch to open a space dedicated to two-person, intergenerational shows. The young sculptor Davina Semo’s heavy bronze bells are a thought-provoking complement to a four-decade spread of paintings by Deborah Remington, who died in 2010. Whether hard-edge or more expressive, Remington’s abstract canvases look like the lightning-induced visions of a theologian, while Ms. Semo’s heavy bells, shaped like colonial-era sugarloaves and riddled with perforations, insist on the full formal weight of their metal.

Through Sept. 29 at Parts & Labor, 1154 North Avenue, Beacon, N.Y.; 917-664-8861, partsandlaborbeacon.com.


Beacon, N.Y.

Founded last year by the artists Paola Oxoa and Kirsten Deirup, Mother skews grungier, as you can tell from the peeling walls. The star of “Soft Temple,” its current group show, is a brace of battered and deep-fried motocross bikes by Daniel Giordano: It’s an over the top but timely reminder of the beauties of decay, with glints of the bikes’ original red paint adding a note of optimism to an already sparkling effect. Among a number of promising small oil paintings is Ryan Browning’s “Hair,” in which a black bowl cut that looks borrowed from a Nancy and Sluggo comic is halfway abstracted into a faux-somber mood study. In Chason Matthams’s “Daffy’s head on Sylvester’s body (beat up),” a purplish cartoon chimera lives at tragic cross purposes with itself, trying to walk in two directions at once.

Through Aug. 11 at Mother, 1154 North Avenue, Beacon, N.Y.; 845-236-6039, mothergallery.art.

After leaving Beacon, take Metro-North one stop down to Cold Spring and reserve a seat on the free shuttle to Magazzino Italian Art, an elegant little private museum opened in 2017 by the collectors Nancy Olnick and Giorgio Spanu. Though the exhibition rotates from time to time, the focus is always on the theatrical postwar Italian movement known as Arte Povera.

Luciano Fabro’s 1986 sculpture “Efeso II,” a 1,500-pound slab of white Carrara marble suspended from the ceiling in two loops of steel cable, offers a great introduction to the movement’s approach. Unlike an oil painting, the piece is clearly animated by a singular, somewhat comic idea — in this case, a stone that’s lighter than air. But the same idea, if you get into the spirit of it, could also be a stab at transcendence, and the work’s conceptual impetus doesn’t mean the artist was indifferent to the details of its physical form. On the contrary, one constant running through the works of Fabro, Alighiero Boetti, Mario and Marisa Merz, Jannis Kounellis and the others you’ll see here is a devotion to lush materials: “Yes, yes, it’s art,” you can imagine Fabro saying, “but look at the beauty of the marble!”

An entire room of works by the Greek-born Kounellis, who died just before Magazzino opened, includes a pair of used leather shoes with lead supports sitting on a four-and-a-half-foot-tall wooden plinth. Like “Efeso II,” this untitled piece hides its profound melancholy behind a joke. No artwork could bear as protracted, or as intimate, a portrait of its maker’s mortal trajectory through the world as his shoes. But there’s something of the mysterious anonymity of human life in the piece, too — the way that separate, speechless objects like shoe leather and bones combine for a flashing instant around a living personality and then, just as quickly, fall apart.

Still, among the nearly 80 sculptures, paintings and photographs that crowd the museum’s 20,000 square feet, the one that lingers with me is the quietest, a mid-1970s work by Giovanni Anselmo. A slide projector sits on the floor, casting some invisible image into the middle of the gallery. Only if you stop and block the light’s path with a hand, or your copy of the museum’s catalog, or some other personal object, can you see that the silent device is relentlessly projecting its title, “Particolare” (“Particular.”)

Ongoing at Magazzino Italian Art, 2700 Route 9, Cold Spring, N.Y.; 845-666-7202, magazzino.art.


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