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"Man Diving, Ganges floods, Benares, Uttar Pradesh” by Raghubir Singh

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Modern Masterpieces

By Sahar Khan

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09.25.17

This fall, the works of contemporary masters are on full display.

Modernism on the Ganges: Raghubir Singh Photographs at The Met Breuer pays homage to the Indian photographer who helped pioneer street photography. Born to an aristocratic family in Rajasthan, Singh, despite living in metropolises the world over, kept coming back to the country of his birth to capture its color and chaos. The show features 85 of Singh’s photographs, along with pieces from his contemporaries and Mughal miniature paintings that inspired his compositions. Images of brightly attired guests at a wedding, maids at a palace and a lone child at a bus depot range from his early work as a photojournalist in the 1960s to unpublished projects from the ’90s. Working solely with a handheld camera and color slide film, Singh’s unique path through India’s many artistic traditions turned a once-lowly art form into a much-imitated modern classic. Oct. 11-Jan. 2, 2018, 945 Madison Ave.

Known for his persistent experimentation as a co-founder of Cologne Dada and surrealism, German-born French-American artist Max Ernst dabbled in a wide swath of artistic media. Max Ernst: Beyond Painting at MoMA delves into his oeuvre with approximately 100 works that pushed the boundaries of the medium through collages and overpaintings made with found printed reproductions; sculptures of painted stone and bronze; rubbings known as frottages; major print portfolios, illustrated books and collage novels. The show includes Ernst’s early works from the 1910s to 1964’s masterpiece 65 Maximiliana, ou l’exercice illégal de l’astronomie, an illustrated book with 34 aquatints, typographic designs and a secret hieroglyphic script invented by Ernst. Through Jan. 1, 2018, 11 W. 53 St.

Nigerian painter Toyin Ojih Odutola’s life-size portraits set in charcoal, pencils and pastels shade questions of identity, migration and dislocation in happy hues. In her first solo museum exhibit in New York, To Wander Determined at the Whitney, Ojih Odutola explores the prism of class and her own aspirations through two fictional well-to-do Nigerian families. Domestic scenes of sumptuous lifestyles depicting a fashionable pregnant woman and a lovelorn man clutching a lover’s scarf to a wall of framed family photos reimagine the genre of portraiture. Playing with color and space, Ojih Odutola’s precise rendering of her subjects’ identities blurs the lines between the canvas with the animation of real life. Opens Oct. 20, 99 Gansevoort St.