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Smaller is smarter at museums in 2011



Last year, thanks to the recession, the art world learned to cut back, yielding some delightful results. This year, local institutions build on that theme with smaller, laser-focused exhibitions that recontextualize old masters and truly celebrate new artists.

Francis Alÿs: A Story of Deception

May 8–Aug. 1, MoMA and MoMA PS1

This retrospective spans two museums and two boroughs — appropriate for an artist whose work deals with how physical location affects social experience.Pictured above, "La Leçon de Musique" from "Rehearsal I."

The Changing Face of William Shakespeare

Feb. 4-May 1, The Morgan Library

Shakespeare’s elusive physical features have long intrigued scholars and fans. The centerpiece of this exhibition is a newly authenticated portrait of The Bard. This is the first time the piece will be exhibited in the U.S.


June 7-Sept. 18, Museum of Arts and Design

As the world shrinks thanks to digital technology and international communication, artists and designers have become more interested in working on a smaller scale. This exhibit brings together miniature worlds created in snow globes, dioramas, photos and more.

Frans Hals

July 26–Oct. 10, The Metropolitan Museum

The Met digs into its own collection to present a look at the celebrated 17th-century Dutch painter Frans Hals. His detailed scenes of Dutch daily life will be accompanied by works from Hals’ contemporaries to highlight how accomplished his own paintings were.

Richard Serra Drawing: A Retrospective

April 13-Aug. 28, Metropolitan Museum of Art

Richard Serra’s mammoth steel sculptures don’t just appear out of thin air. This exhibit gives viewers a glimpse into the sculptor’s process, showcasing preparatory drawings and sketches, as well as other drawings unrelated to his sculptural works.

Lynda Benglis

Feb. 9-July 13, New Museum of Contemporary Art

Since the 1960s, this sculptor has been working slightly outside the mainstream. With her first retrospective in 20 years, the New Museum hopes to bring more attention to an artist whose ever-evolving aesthetic keeps pushing her practice forward rather than conforming to expectation.

Cory Arcangel: Pro Tools

Opens May 26, Whitney Museum of American Art

The young artist, known for his multimedia works using modified video games, is a celebrated fixture on the contemporary scene. The Whitney promises to continue its streak of excellent single-artist exhibits with this presentation of Arcangels new work.

Rembrandt and His School: Masterworks from the Frick and Lugt Collections

Feb. 15-May 15, The Frick Collection

You can never have too much Rembrandt. And this exhibit, which assembles paintings and works-on-paper by the Dutch master, provides an intimate and detailed look at the artist’s ouevre.

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