AFC’s Fall Forecast: Goth Art Everywhere

by Michael Anthony Farley and Corinna Kirsch on August 19, 2016 Preview

my whole life is a dark roomWinter is coming. As the nights grow longer, shadows seem to creep into the city’s innumerable white boxes.

Our prediction for what the Fall/Winter 2016 look will be in New York: goth as fuck.

Artists, galleries, and institutions across the city seem to be embracing the macabre, gloomy, and achromatic in the months leading up to Halloween (by far, the art world’s most important holiday). We’re looking forward to aesthetic darkness, existential angst, and an embrace of the occult. Is this otherworldly tragic election season to blame for our state of mourning? We’re not sure, but let’s hope some fall weather shows up in time for us to break out our all-black wardrobes.  

We’ve rated New York’s darkest upcoming art shows from “one tube of black lipstick” for “somewhat bleak” to “five tubes of black lipstick” for “this gallery is essentially a food court full of crying mall goths.” Our picks, arranged by opening date:

Tony Oursler: Imponderable

Through January 8, 2017Imponderable_16

Screened daily, Tony Oursler’s feature-length film includes a costumed devil, spirits rising from the dead, psychics, occult magicians, and a soundtrack by JG Thirwell, a composer known for being in bands with gruesome-sounding names like “Foetus” and “Manorexia.” And there’s an element of smell-o-vision, making this one creepy, spooky, smelly film. For more on the film, Art F City already has the review.

Screens daily at 9:35 a.m. (Member Early Hours), 11:10 a.m., 12:45 p.m., 2:20 p.m., 3:55 p.m., and 5:30 p.m. (on Fridays only)


Aneta Grzeszykowska: NO/BODY

Lyles & King11R
September 7– October 16, 2016


Polish artist Aneta Grzeszykowska makes work that blurs the borders of human/animal, life/death. A series like “Selfie,” where Grzeszykowska constructed doll parts out of pigskin, appears reminiscent of Lynn Hershman Leeson’s waxen effigies from the 1960s, which present a horrifying vision of life that’s barely living. Or maybe they will just remind you of Pinhead from Hellraiser.

In NO/BODY, taking place across the Lower East Side at Lyles & King and 11R galleries, photographs of Grzesykowska’s “selfies” will be on view, as well as video works such as “Headache,” described in the press release as a video “in which disembodied limbs from the artist’s exploded body attack her head and reassemble into an inhuman form.”


Matthew Barney: Facility of DECLINE

September 9 – October 22, 2016

matthew barney

It goes without saying that Matthew Barney has a singular capacity for squeezing something beautiful or terrifying out of the macabre. What will this upcoming solo show entail? Ruins? Gross allusions to the body? Decay? Likely something we haven’t even thought of, but will forevermore when we’re alone in the dark.

Taryn Simon: An Occupation of Loss

Park Avenue Armory
September 13–25, 2016Taryn Simon

Every night at sundown, dozens of mourners will perform grieving rituals around eleven concrete pipes modeled after Zoroastrian “towers of silence.” These mourners are “professionals,” and their cries will include Albanian laments, Venezuelan laments, the soul’s lament on its travels to the Milky Way (???), Greek laments, and Yezidi laments. During the day, the installations will house only the Towers of Silence. As serious as a funeral.  


Oscar Murillo: through patches of corn, wheat and mud

David Zwirner
September 14 – October 22, 2016

Oscar Murillo

Oscar Murillo, photo by Lalo Borja [h/t Cultured Mag]

Okay, for this one we’re just going to quote the press release:

“Ten densely black, torn canvases arranged like banners… also embodying a symbolic dimension: several of them accompanied Murillo on trips to south-east Asia, where they were part of ritualistic performances, or “guts,” with local spiritual guides. Also on view are vast canvases that have been stitched together from smaller fragments. Some of these, covered with latex and corn flour, will be suspended from hanging scales, while a series of black canvases reminiscent of leather hides are folded across several lines of copper wire, creating a maze-like installation within which further works are displayed.”


Michal Rovner: Night

Pace Gallery
Sep 15–Oct 22, 2016

Michal Rovner, "Culture Plate #4," 2013

Michal Rovner, “Culture Plate #4,” 2013

We’re not sure what to expect from this exhibition, beyond the fact that it’s likely going to be dark as hell given its title and the artist’s oeuvre. Rovner, a native of Israel, has made work using rubble of houses destroyed in Middle Eastern conflicts and site-specific installations at Auschwitz. Even in an Autumn full of dark art, this might be the bleakest.

McDermott & McGough: Velvet Rage, Flaming Youth, and the Gift of Desperation

James Fuentes
September 16–October 23, 2016Skull

Velvet rage. Flaming youth. The gift of desperation. All three could easily describe Oscar Wilde, or a modern-day Victorian-obsessed punk. Artist duo McDermott & McGough themselves are a bit of a period-piece, as their artist bio willingly admits:

“They have chosen to immerse themselves in the period of the Victorian era at the close of the 19th century to the style of the 1930s. During the 1980s, McDermott & McGough dressed, lived, and worked as artists and “men about town,” circa 1900-1928: they wore top hats and detachable collars, and converted a townhouse on Avenue C in New York City’s East Village, which was lit only by candlelight, to its authentic mid-19th century ideal.”

Skulls. They also like skulls, as seen in their vanitas, “History of Photography, 1877,” [above] a work that was not made in 1877 unless McDermott and McGough happen to be vampires as well as artists.

Julie Mehretu

Marian Goodman
September 22 –  October 29

Julie Mehretu, "Epigraph," 2016, Ink and acrylic on canvas 60 x 72 in. / 152.4 x 182.9 cm Courtesy of the artist and Marian Goodman Gallery Photo credit: Alex Yudzon

Julie Mehretu, “Epigraph,” 2016, Ink and acrylic on canvas. 60 x 72 in. Courtesy of the artist and Marian Goodman Gallery. Photo credit: Alex Yudzon

We love Julie Mehretu for her visceral mark-making and pops of color in often-cheery abstractions that range from the intimate to monumental. But based on the only image available, titled “Epigraph,” of recent work for her upcoming solo show at Marian Goodman, it looks like she might be taking a darker turn? If this brooding ink and acrylic composition lives up to its name by setting the tone of the exhibition, we’re guessing things will be stormier and even vaguely sinister in this series. We’re into it.

black-lipstickWickerham & Lomax: Local Atonement; A nutshell study of unexplained death

American Medium
September 22–October 23, 2016

LOCAL ATONEMENT – EXHIBITION TRAILER from Wickerham & Lomax on Vimeo.

Part of why we love Wickerham & Lomax so much is that it’s always a little hard to pinpoint with words just what their tragicomic, pseudo-narrative work is “about.” This exhibition promises to consider the idea of location as a character with insidious agency in the lives of its inhabitants. Like a haunted house? Likely something like that, but smart and strangely accessible at the same time. Spooky! “Notions of escape, the discarded, and identity confusion all collide to punish the artists with their own set of iconography.”


Agnes Martin

Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
October 7 – January 11

Installation view of Agnes Martin's last show at LACMA.

Installation view of Agnes Martin’s last show at LACMA.

A survey of painter Agnes Martin’s work from the 1950s into this century might not sound very goth—Martin is known for her ghostly canvases overlaid with barely perceptible grids—but open your mind to “white goth” and perhaps then, you will find a  cosmic emptiness in her canvases which, without figures or forms, point to the disappearance of the self in art.


Simon Starling: At Twilight

Japan Society
October 14- January 15Simon Starling

There’s something undeniably otherworldly about Noh theater, with its tempo, themes, and aesthetics that seem just out of phase with our world. It’s no surprise, then, that it was one of the myriad global influences that informed Western modernism. In At Twilight, Simon Starling examines the legacy of Noh in 20th century to contemporary art with a new body of work that includes video, costumes, and masks. All of the above is likely to be a little creepy, if this still is any indication.


Josef Albers: Grey Steps, Grey Scales, Grey Ladders

David Zwirner
November 3 – December 17, 2016

Josef Albers, Study for "Homage to the Square: Late Exchange," 1964. Oil on Masonite

Josef Albers, Study for “Homage to the Square: Late Exchange,” 1964. Oil on Masonite

How dark is New York’s art scene this Fall? So dark that even a retrospective of color-king Josef Albers is going eerily monochromatic. Yep, here’s a rare chance to see all black and grey compositions from the man responsible for art students everywhere having to buy Coloraid freshmen year.

It’s official: the art world is goth. Perhaps David Zwirner is going to play some”Bauhaus” at the opening?

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