Five to see: New York

From art made on aeroplanes to a Milwaukee autodidact

Jörg Immendorff, Chile, 1975, distemper on canvas. Courtesy Michael Werner, London Nina Katchadourian, Seat Assignment: Disasters, 2010–. Courtesy the artist Luchita Hurtado, Untitled, c.1940sPhoto: Jeff McLane. © the artist. Courtesy Hauser & Wirth, New York Bernard Gilardi, Gentrification, 1989. Courtesy Shrine, New York Kiki Smith, Wave, 2016, bronze. © the artist. Courtesy Pace Gallery, New York

Jörg Immendorff at Michael Werner
through 13 April

They might be displayed in the moneyed surroundings of the gallery’s Upper East Side space, but the paintings on display in this exhibition of the late German artist were specifically made for the working masses. The show’s title, Questions from a Painter Who Reads, recalls the 1935 poem by Bertolt Brecht (‘painter’ substituted for the original ‘worker’). Obviously there’s a lot to say about the jarring context of the show, but nonetheless the paintings, which include the Maoist Paintings series form the 1970s depicting worker’s battles and strikes, remain seductive chronicles of vernacular life in east Germany.

Nina Katchadourian at Fridman Gallery
through 31 March

Central to this solo exhibition is the work Katchadourian made while travelling on aeroplanes. The product of nearly 275 flights over a period of nine years, Seat Assignment (2010–) is a paean to boredom and constraint – and the creativity they might breed. Landscapes, for example, features photographs the artist made with her phone of glossy images from the inflight magazines, on top of which Katchadourian has overlaid objects from her food tray. The rind of a lemon slice placed as a bridge over a river, a totem of peanuts in a cliché image of a rainforest.

Nina Katchadourian, Seat Assignment: Disasters, 2010–. Courtesy the artist

Luchita Hurtado at Hauser & Wirth 69th Street
through 6 April

Look closely at the stylistic references in Hurtado’s paintings and one might just about be able to trace her life story. There are vestiges of muralism, graphic design, Latin American surrealism and North American abstract expressionism to be found in the crayon and ink paintings on board and paper, graphite and ink drawings, and oil paintings on canvas on show at Hauser & Wirth. No surprise then that the artist, now just shy of 100, was born in Vargas, Venezuela, came to the US to work freelance as a fashion illustrator for Condé Nast, before going down to Mexico City in the late 1940s and moving to San Francisco Bay the following decade. Eventually she settled in Los Angeles: orange and yellow dominate the palette of these works, that west coast light finding a home here too.

Luchita Hurtado, Untitled, c. 1940s. © the artist. Photo: Jeff McLane

Bernard Gilardi at Shrine
through 17 March

The approximately 400 paintings Bernard Gilardi produced were never shown in public in his lifetime. It was a hobby the artist, who died in 2008, confined to the basement of his Milwaukee house. Gilardi’s paintings might be described as magical realism – certainly strange, one oil on masonite work features a woman in a bikini riding a giant rhino; another an androgynous couple sitting back-to-back almost naked, sharing headphones – and hint at allegory. What symbolism Gilardi, who was Catholic, wished to impart, remains tantalisingly out of reach, however. Shining a light on this autodidact is prankster Maurizio Cattelan, the brains behind this New York airing.

Bernard Gilardi, Gentrification, 1989. Courtesy Shrine, New York 

Kiki Smith at Pace Gallery West 24th Street
through 30 March

The stars have aligned for Kiki Smith, the artist whose figurative work engages with the celestial, spiritual and earthly worlds. Alongside this solo exhibition she is the subject of a travelling European retrospective (Munich, Tampere and Vienna are the blessed cities) and a forthcoming installation for DESTE Foundation’s Slaughterhouse on the Greek island of Hydra. Using imagery that is evocative of myth and fairytale as well as the grotesque and uncanny, Murmur includes etchings, sculptures, cyanotypes and photographs from the last three years that reflect on ideas around birth, decay, natural cycles, and cosmic and spiritual planes.

Kiki Smith, Wave, 2016, bronze. © the artist. Courtesy Pace Gallery, New York

Online exclusive, 1 March 2019