In the 20th century, New York cemented itself as the home of Abstract Expressionism and subversive Pop Art. These days, the city is a canvas for a new school of artists pushing the boundaries of media and holding social justice as their primary message. 

World-renowned institutions such as MoMA, The Metropolitan Museum Of Art, and the Guggenheim continue to draw tourists and art aficionados in equal measure, and leading commercial galleries such as Gagosian, Hauser & Wirth, Pace, Perrotin and David Zwirner all occupy vast square footage, some with multiple locations.

Manhattan’s art fairs – The Armory Show, Frieze and Independent among them – have become much-anticipated annual fixtures in the art calendar. After a hiatus of in-person art experiences, New York City is ‘back’, and proving that it remains a powerhouse of creativity, originality, commerce, and connection. 

Best New York art exhibitions: a guide

Exhibition: Camila Falquez: ‘Gods that Walk Among Us’
Location: Hannah Traore Gallery 
Dates: until 9 July 2022 

Camila Falquez, The Family, 2022

In Camila Falquez’s series ‘Gods That Walk Among Us’  the Mexico-born, Spanish-raised Colombian artist harnesses the traditions of fashion and portrait photography, then reworks them in honour of the contemporary spectrums of social and gender diversity. Falquez asks: ‘What if beauty and power can exist on pedestals that we have never seen before? Can we present a vision of freedom that, regardless if we only know it as a vision, we can now live by and embody?’. These empowering images and their ‘Gods’ draw you into a world of community, liberation and visibility, then invite you to push back out against structural rigidities. 

Writer: Sophie Gladstone

Installation: Cristina Iglesias, Landscape and Memory
Location: Madison Square Park
Dates: until 4 December 2022

Cristina Iglesias, Landscape and Memory at Madison Square Park, 2022. Photography: Rashmi Gil

Found everywhere from inner cities to remote landscapes, Spanish artist Cristina Iglesias’ horizontal fountains, submerged rooms, tropical mazes and even entire lighthouses, bring together literature, architecture, geology and botany to create immersive spaces that meditate on the relationship between humans, nature and how the two intersect. Landscape and Memory, her new site-specific public installation commissioned by Madison Square Park Conservancy, consists of five bronze pools flowing with water and carved to resemble a subterranean tangle of rocks, roots, and abstract forms, with mirrored surfaces offering an illusion of vast, eternal terrain. 
The installation forms part of a major transatlantic moment for the artist, who currently has a site-specific installation at London’s Royal Academy, and a solo show at Gagosian Davies Street. 

Exhibition: ‘Black Venus’, curated by Aindrea Emelife
Dates: until 28 August 2022
Location: Fotografiska

Coreen Simpson, Black Girl with Eye, (1992) from About Face series. Courtesy of the artist

Black Venus’, curated by Aindrea Emelife is a story of historic objectification and contemporary reclamation. The exhibition surveys the legacy of Black women in visual culture – from fetishised, colonial-era caricatures, to contemporary image-making, which depicts a renewed agency in Black womanhood. The cross-generational show features 30 artworks by 17 international artists with birth years spanning 1942 to 1997. These include Deana Lawson (recipient of the 2022 Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Prize), Zanele Muholi, Kara Walker, Carrie Mae Weems, Shawanda Corbett, Ming Smith and Coreen Simpson. 

Exhibition: ‘Cindy Sherman: 1977 – 1982’
Location: Hauser & Wirth 69th Street
Dates: until 29 July 2022 

Cindy Sherman, Untitled Film Still, 1978. © Cindy Sherman Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth

Cindy Sherman is an artist of many faces. She’s also an artist acknowledged for transforming the role of the camera in art. Beyond a photographer, Sherman’s independent approach saw her take on the part of makeup artist, hairdresser, stylist, and director, as well as casting herself as the protagonist in her ultra-staged narratives. Her first major show at Hauser & Wirth focuses on Sherman’s pivotal early work – including the complete set of 70 Untitled Film Stills, Rear Screen Projections and Centerfolds – which delve into female stereotypes – such as the femme-fatale, career-girl, or housewife – and explore broader notions of identity and representation. Though created more than forty years ago, Sherman’s formative work resonates in contemporary times to uncanny effect. 

Exhibition: Whitney Biennial
Location: Whitney Museum of American Art
Dates: until 6 September 2022

Emily Barker, Kitchen, 2019. Collection of the artist; image courtesy the artist and Murmurs, Los Angeles. Photograph by Josh Schaedel bets new york art exhibitions
Emily Barker, Kitchen, 2019. Collection of the artist; image courtesy the artist and Murmurs, Los Angeles. Photograph by Josh Schaedel

The 2022 edition of the Whitney Biennial, the longest-running survey of American art, has been in the works since 2019; before the Covid-19 pandemic took hold and before the murder of George Floyd by an on-duty police officer. However, as Nick Compton reports, the politics of this show – explicit and abstracted – are mostly of identity and belonging, featuring the work of 63 deliberately diverse artists ranging from emerging talent (in ample supply) to art icons. Among the artists featured are Ellen Gallagher, Alejandro Morales, Emily Barker, Sable Elyse Smith, Coco Fusco and Charles Ray.