Our guide to art shows that will be closing soon.
2017 WHITNEY BIENNIAL at the Whitney Museum of American Art (through June 11). This is arguably the best Biennial in years, and perhaps the best ever in its combination of demographics, aesthetics and political urgency. Nearly half of the featured artists are female, and half nonwhite. Their works reach from figure painting to virtual reality. Such realities as income inequality, racism, misogyny, immigration and violence are confronted in ways that set a high standard for social engagement sustained by formal ambition. (Roberta Smith)
‘FAST FORWARD: PAINTING FROM THE 1980s’ at the Whitney Museum of American Art (closes on May 14). This exhibition takes a first shot at the long-overlooked history of ’80s American painting and mostly misses its mark. The heady, poly-style energy of the moment is intermittently present, often in works — previously long in storage — by Julian Schnabel, Kathe Burkhart, Moira Dryer and several others. But the show, which is limited to the museum’s collection and its smallest floor of galleries, is confused and timid. Still, don’t miss it. So far, it’s all we have. (Smith)
‘MARISA MERZ: THE SKY IS A GREAT SPACE’ at the Met Breuer (closes on May 7). This survey of tenacious, innovative, often beautiful work belatedly reveals its maker, now in her 90s, as the queen of Arte Povera, the postwar Italian movement known for using humble materials. It runs from her early cut-aluminum “Living Sculpture” pieces to drawings, paintings and small sculptures of mostly female heads. Constant experimentation with materials, a disdain for traditional finish and some revenge on the male gaze emerge. (Smith)
‘PERPETUAL REVOLUTION: THE IMAGE AND SOCIAL CHANGE’ at the International Center of Photography (closes on May 7). The International Center of Photography opened in 1974 as a showcase for socially concerned picture making, and has stayed on mission, even as photographic technology has expanded to encompass the internet. This exhibition reflects those shifts. It’s as purposely topical as anything the center has done, with sections focused on climate change, immigration, gender issues, racial turmoil, terrorism and the 2016 presidential election. (Holland Cotter)
‘TREASURES FROM THE NATIONALMUSEUM OF SWEDEN: THE COLLECTIONS OF COUNT TESSIN’ at the Morgan Library & Museum (closes on May 14). The most important historical museum in Stockholm is closed for renovations, permitting this accomplished if sedate touring exhibition of its collection of Italian, Dutch and especially French art of the 16th through 18th centuries. Most were acquired by Count Carl Gustaf Tessin, who sat at the top of Swedish politics during the Enlightenment. Count Tessin collected drawings by Raphael, Rembrandt, van Dyck and Hendrick Goltzius — the last of whom is represented by a rare, crystalline self-portrait, complete with arctic eyes. When in Paris, the count bought the hottest of contemporary art: airy, splashy Rococo painting, including François Boucher’s “The Triumph of Venus,” in which the goddess of love is borne on the waves while reclining in silks that remain preternaturally dry. (Jason Farago)
‘TURNER’S MODERN AND ANCIENT PORTS: PASSAGES THROUGH TIME’ at the Frick Collection (closes on May 14). Picture the work of the cherished British painter Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775-1851), and turbulent seascapes and churning atmospheric effects most likely come to mind. In this exhibition, the waters are calmer, but the sea air is rendered with no less care. Organized around three large-scale port scenes, including an unfinished work from the Tate Britain that inspired new technical analysis by a Tate conservator, the show reflects the artist’s — and Britain’s — preoccupation with travel in the years after the Napoleonic wars, which restricted journeys across the English Channel. (Louis Lucero II)