previews

  • Edward Steichen

    Whitney Museum of American Art
    99 Gansevoort Street
    October 5, 2000–February 3, 2001

    Edward Steichen's work might look musty and overrefined these days, but there's no denying the influence of his switch from impressionist Pictorialism to crisp modernism, or the definitive elegance of his work in both styles, or his crusading, entrepreneurial spirit. By the time Steichen put down his camera in 1947 to become the first head of MoMA's department of photography, he'd cofounded 291, New York's inaugural photo and art gallery (with mentor Alfred Stieglitz) and landed a lucrative contract with Condé Nast. Much of the vintage work curator Barbara Haskell has gathered for this retrospective (the first major Steichen exhibition since 1961) was shot for Vogue and Vanity Fair—not to mention any number of grateful advertisers.

  • Open Ends

    MoMA - The Museum of Modern Art
    11 West 53rd Street
    September 28, 2000–January 30, 2001

    Last time we checked, George Lucas was at work on Episode XIV of the fifth cycle in the forty-second Star Wars übertrilogy. He'd better hurry. Come September, credits roll on the first section of the third cycle of MoMA's year-and-a-half thematic rehanging of its collection: Curators Paola Antonelli and Joshua Siegel costar with leading man Kirk Varnedoe (cast against type in this contemporary episode). You won't find out whether Han Solo ever hooked up with Princess Leia, but you will learn about tensions between “private autonomies and a global culture” and “challenges to familiar notions of originality” in art since 1960. I've said it before and I'll say it again: None of this revisioning means much to anybody save the curators, but MoMA's art's the best. So do go, just don't read the labels.

  • Y E S Yoko Ono

    Japan Society
    333 East 47th Street
    October 18, 2000–January 14, 2001

    While the title of this show refers to one of Yoko Ono's early works, the “YES” must also be taken as a laconic riposte to that confused and sometimes hostile lot—the Yoko debunkers—who continue to question her importance. Perhaps a major US retrospective (her first) will sway the naysayers? Curator Alexandra Munroe, in consultation with Ono's archivist Jon Hendricks, brings together some 150 examples of the artist's multimedia output, including installations, films, and videos, from the Fluxus period right up to the present. A new CD of Ono's electrifying vocals comes with the catalogue.

  • Pierre et Gilles

    New Museum
    235 Bowery
    September 15, 2000–January 7, 2001

    In the decade since this French collaborative team last showed in America, the artifice, theatricality, and narrative pizzazz that mark their hand-painted photographs have found a sympathetic echo in work by a slew of artists, including David LaChapelle, Mariko Mori, and even Gregory Crewdson. But viewers of this twenty-two-year survey may still be unprepared for Pierre et Gilles's seductively gaudy, frankly homoerotic utopia, where saints, sailors, and movie stars inhabit the same candy-colored never-never land. Curator Dan Cameron emphasizes the team's work of the '90s, which has taken a darker, more melancholy turn without losing a bit of its rhinestone-dusted glamour.