The must-see shows of the fall art season are ambitious, meticulously curated reflections on the meaning of life. They find inspiration in everything from religion to Twitter -- which might be considered a 21st-century religion for some. Here’s a sampling:
The Museum of Modern Art:“ De Kooning: A Retrospective” (Sept. 18)
Willem de Kooning led a complex life filled with affairs, alcohol abuse, power trips and, in his last decade, dementia. His 1997 death proved to be just as complicated: It’s taken this long for his estate and MoMA to organize the first major retrospective for the abstract expressionist. The exhibition marks the first time that the museum’s 17,000 square-foot gallery space will be devoted to a single artist.
11 W. 53rd St., 212-708-9400
The Pace Gallery: “Social Media” (Sept. 16 to Oct. 15)
Twitter, Flickr, Google, apps and porn sites are the stars of this group exhibition about the Internet’s impact on art. The show also features Talking Heads frontman David Byrne and his multimedia photo essay “Democracy in Action.” Other artists include Christopher Baker, Aram Bartholl and Penelope Umbrico.
510 W. 25th St., 212-255-4044
Asia Society Museum: “The Buddhist Heritage of Pakistan: Art of Gandhara” (Through Oct. 30)
Tense U.S.-Pakistan relations stirred up so much political drama that this show nearly didn’t make it to New York. But after a six-mfonth delay, the 2,000-year-old artifacts are here, offering a rare glimpse of Buddhism’s early years in what is now northwestern Pakistan.
725 Park Ave., 212-288-6400
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum: “Maurizio Cattelan: All” (Nov. 4 to Jan. 22)
The art world’s Italian-born, self-taught mischief maker is getting his own survey exhibition. It will feature his satirical sculptures and the social commentary of his dark prankster installations, which, in the past, have included stuffed animals, images of dead children and, most infamously, Pope John Paul II getting clobbered by a meteorite.
1071 Fifth Ave., 212-423-3500
Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture: “Romare Bearden: The Soul of Blackness/A Centennial Tribute” (Through Jan. 7)
Of all the 100th-birthday Bearden shows being held nationwide, only one can brag about taking place in his old neighborhood. The world-famous Schomburg public library is hosting more than the mixed-media collages that made its native son famous; there also are lush watercolors, paintings, sketches, tapestries and his Vanity Fair cover illustrations.
515 Malcolm X Blvd., 212-491-2200
The Metropolitan Museum of Art: Galleries for the Art of the Arab Lands, Turkey, Iran, Central Asia and Later South Asia. (Grand opening Nov. 1)
After an eight-year renovation, the Met finally will unveil its suite of 15 galleries dedicated to 13 centuries of Islamic civilization. The comprehensive collection of more than 1,000 works will span the Middle East, North Africa and Europe, as well as Central and South Asia. Look for an on-going calendar of related events.
1000 Fifth Ave., 212-535-7710