12 Must-See Winter Gallery Exhibitions in New York City

From Yayoi Kusama at David Zwirner to Richard Avedon at Pace/MacGill, there's something for everyone this season

Nina Chanel Abney’s first solo exhibition at Jack Shainman.
Photo: Courtesy of Jack Shainman Gallery
Misha Kahn’s The Deep Sea Angler, 2017, made from stainless steel and glass, at Friedman Benda. Photo: Courtesy of Friedman Benda

Misha Kahn at Friedman Benda
“Midden Heap”
Through December 16, 2017

Friedman Benda gallery in Chelsea has been transformed into a fantastical wreckage of sorts thanks to artist Misha Kahn’s latest exhibition. “Midden Heap” was born out of scavenging missions to Dead Horse Bay in the Rockaways, a stretch of beach where trash mounds cover the shoreline. Known for his wildly creative and fairly unorthodox design approach, Kahn has used age-old techniques like glassblowing, bronze casting, and metal cladding to create his own washed up sea treasures. “Each piece is part of a landscape I imagine as the earth gets swallowed by the sea,” he says. “No single object has any specific meaning. It’s all part of a feeling.” 515 West 26th Street. friedmanbenda.com 

A painting from Cecily Brown’s exhibition “A Day! Help! Help! Another Day” at Paula Cooper. Photo: Courtesy of Paula Cooper

Cecily Brown at Paula Cooper
“A Day! Help! Help! Another Day”
Through December 2, 2017

Cecily Brown’s lush gestural oil paintings draw inspiration from old master paintings as well as contemporary, political-based imagery, hovering somewhere between abstraction and representation with her loose, painterly, blurred brushstrokes. Brown’s highly-anticipated solo exhibition at Paula Cooper Gallery is her first at the gallery and includes pieces that reference iconic works by the likes of Théodore Géricault and Eugène Delacroix. 534 West 21st Street. paulacoopergallery.com 

Yayoi Kusama, INFINITY MIRRORED ROOM – LET’S SURVIVE FOREVER, 2017 at David Zwirner’s Chelsea gallery. Photo: Courtesy of David Zwirner, New York and Ota Fine Arts, Tokyo/Singapore/Shanghai, and Victoria Miro, London.

Yayoi Kusama at David Zwirner
“Festival of Life” & “Infinity Nets”
Through December 16, 2017

Yayoi Kusama has been an Avant-garde mainstay since the 1960s with her instantly recognizable imagery and interactive installations that immerse viewers within. Now, hot off the heels of a blockbuster exhibition at Washington D.C.’s Hirschhorn Museum, David Zwirner is bringing her line-inducing infinity rooms to his Chelsea space. Viewers can experience one room by viewing it through peepholes and another by directly entering the space. There are also sixty-six paintings from her “My Eternal Soul” series and a number of flower sculptures. The Upper East Side gallery, at 34 East 69th Street, features a must-see series of her “Infinity Nets” paintings. 525 & 533 West 19th Street and 34 East 69th Street. davidzwirner.com 

An installation view of Nina Chanel Abney’s “Seized the Imagination” at Jack Shainman. Photo: Courtesy of Jack Shainman Gallery

Nina Chanel Abney at Jack Shainman
“Seized the Imagination”
Through December 20, 2017

Emerging Chicago-based artist Nina Chanel Abney’s frenetically charged, colorful paintings draw on socio-political issues in American society—civil rights and police brutality in particular— as well as personal events in her own life. Her flat, cartoonish figures have a childlike, storybook quality to them, perhaps allowing the somewhat difficult messages to be more easily absorbed. This is her first solo exhibition at the gallery and is not to be missed. 513 West 20th Street; jackshainman.com 

Georges Braque’s Fruit Bowl, Bottle, and Glass, 1912. Photo: Courtesy of Almine Rech

Group show at Almine Rech
“Words Without Thoughts Never to Heaven Go”
Through December 16, 2017

The Paris dealer’s latest show highlights the importance of words and language in contemporary art. The thematic exhibition begins with a group of Picasso’s early paintings and works on paper before going through the art historical movements (Dadaism, Surrealism, Post-War) through to today, tracking how language is a unifying thread. Expect big names like René Magritte, Ed Ruscha, Andy Warhol, and Jean-Michel Basquiat. 39 East 78th Street. alminerech.com

Marilyn Monroe photographed by Richard Avedon in 1957. Photo: Courtesy of Pace/MacGill

Richard Avedon at Pace/MacGill
“Nothing Personal”
November 17, 2017-January 13, 2018

Famed photographer Richard Avedon’s new exhibition at Pace/MacGill spotlights his longstanding friendship with writer James Baldwin, which led to collaborating on a powerful photo book titled Nothing Personal. Published in 1964, at the height of the civil rights movement, the book documented civil rights icons, intellectuals, everyday Americans, and pop icons. (Think Marilyn Monroe and a naked Allen Ginsberg, to name a few.) Under the same name as the book, the show at Pace/MacGill will display these powerful images. An updated version of the volume includes an essay by Hilton Als and additional, never-before-seen archival material. 537 West 24th Street. pacemacgill.com 

Sheila Metzner’s Campidoglio for Fendi, 1986, at Staley Wise. Photo: Courtesy of Staley Wise

Sheila Metzner at Staley Wise
“From Life”
Through January 20, 2018
Sheila Metzner’s sensual and elegant photographs have garnered acclaim from within both the commercial fashion world and the realm of fine art. Along with a new publication of her book by Rizzoli entitled From Life, the exhibition reveals her mastery of the labor-intensive Fresson and platinum printing processes. 100 Crosby Street, Suite 305. staleywise.com 

Hayv Kahraman’s Mnemonic Artifact 6, 2017, at Jack Shainman. Photo: Courtesy of Jack Shainman Gallery

Hayv Kahraman at Jack Shainman
“Re-weaving Migrant Inscriptions”
Through December 20, 2017
Young Baghdad-born, L.A.-based Hayv Kahraman’s new series at Jack Shainman is based around her memories of fleeing the Iraqi capital with her family’s mahaffa, a hand-held fan woven from palm fronds. In her powerful paintings of black haired, red-lipped women, she mimics the texture of the mahaffa by cutting the canvases and reweaving them. 513 West 20th Street. jackshainman.com 

Sam Moyer’s Payne 13, 2017, at Sean Kelly. Photo: Courtesy of Sean Kelly

Sam Moyer at Sean Kelly
“Wide Wake”
Through December 16, 2017

Chicago-born emerging talent Sam Moyer’s practice combines materials like hand-dyed fabric and marble slabs to create artworks that exist at the juncture between painting and sculpture. Her first solo exhibition at Sean Kelly gallery invites visitors to walk through a large architectural structure made of marble and steel, and be immersed in a series of pastel toned paintings that almost cover the height of the walls. “Wide Wake” refers to her influences from artists such as David Smith to Eva Hesse. 475 10th Ave; skny.com 

Shirazeh Houshiary’s Flit, 2017, on display at Lisson. Photo: Courtesy of Lisson

Shirazeh Houshiary at Lisson
“Nothing is deeper than the skin”
Through December 22, 2017
This show is the Iranian talent’s eighth exhibition with Lisson, but her first at the gallery’s New York outpost. On view here are a series of twisting glass brick sculptures and her largest painting to date, a breathtaking cloud-like triptych that measures more than 25 feet wide and conveys her interest in science, poetry, and metaphysical realities. 504 West 24th Street; lissongallery.com 

Arshile Gorky’s Pastoral, 1947, at Hauser & Wirth. Photo: Hauser & Wirth

Arshile Gorky at Hauser & Wirth
“Ardent Nature Arshile Gorky Landscapes, 1943-47”
Through December 23, 2017

This exhibition tracks the transitional period of the great twentieth century painter Arshile Gorky, who moved from figuration to abstraction with his drippy, brightly colored oil on canvases. The gallery’s inaugural presentation (curated by the artist’s granddaughter) focuses on the works made during Gorky’s time at a farm in Virginia where he was inspired to connect with nature. On display are over fifty landscapes, both paintings and works on paper, depicting expressive, organic forms in gorgeous color palettes from these crucial years in his life. 32 East 69th Street. hauserwirth.com 

A striking portrait by Zanele Muholi on view at Yancey Richardson. Photo: Yancey Richardson

Zanele Muholi at Yancey Richardson
“Zanele Muholi”
Through December 9, 2017
Visual artist and activist Zanele Muholi’s arresting work revolves around themes of blackness and queer identity in South Africa. Using a high tonal contrast, her subject’s black skin tone is exaggerated to challenge our perceptions in the media today, and to shift the stigma around lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals. Her third exhibition with Yancey Richardson showcases two series of works: “Brave Beauties” on show in New York for the first time and “Somnyama Ngonyama.” Muholi’s work will also be on view at the New York performance biennale, Performa, through November 19. 525 West 22nd Street. yanceyrichardson.com