Through July 24. Marian Goodman Gallery, 24 West 57th Street, Manhattan, and online at mariangoodman.com.
Some of New York’s now-shuttered museum exhibitions — the Museum of Modern Art’s precise Donald Judd retrospective, the Whitney Museum of American Art’s grand survey of Mexican painting — will go back on view later this summer, but one of the best will not re-emerge. “Gerhard Richter: Painting After All,” the final exhibition at the Met Breuer, took years to organize and yet closed after just nine days; since the Metropolitan Museum of Art is now turning over the Breuer building to the Frick Collection, the German artist’s terse photo paintings and doubt-wracked abstractions are being crated up and shipped home.
If, like almost everyone, you missed “Painting After All,” Mr. Richter’s longtime dealer, Marian Goodman, is offering a noble mulligan in the form of a large showcase of recent works, which can be viewed by appointment at her midtown gallery or in a robust digital presentation. I saw it in person, yet even online you can get a partial taste of 22 new squeegeed abstractions, and examine their coursing surfaces and staccato progressions via close-up video footage. Several small oils on wood from 2016, freer and gloopier than Mr. Richter’s earlier abstractions, employ a shocking fluorescent green that disrupts scraped runs of red, orange and black.
Also here are open, willfully spare drawings whose spindly lines and light impressions push his skepticism of abstraction to the breaking point, as well as photos of a forest overpainted with veils of dusky gray lacquer. (The dark forest, one of Mr. Richter’s prime metaphors for German history, here takes on a more literal, ecological overtone rare in his art.)
One eerie suite of 31 prints that appeared in “Painting After All” is also here at Goodman: the “Elbe” series, named after the river that flows through the artist’s birthplace of Dresden. In 1957, while studying printmaking there, Mr. Richter applied an ink roller directly to paper to produce cloudy, melancholy monotypes, wholly unlike the Socialist Realist imagery expected of an East German artist. He defected to West Germany in 1961 and retrieved the experimental prints only after the fall of the Berlin Wall. While he has disclaimed almost all the art he made in the East, he chose to salvage these early, formless slicks and sludges, reprinting them in 2012 as a suite of inkjet prints. They are the muffled starting pistol of an oeuvre where the figurative and the abstract always haunt each other, and where meaninglessness speaks volumes. JASON FARAGO
Through Sept. 19. Metro Pictures, 519 West 24th Street, 212-206-7100, open by appointment and online at metropictures.com.
The current confrontation with our nation’s racist history was driven by gruesome, indelible images of Black people dying in police custody. The artist Gary Simmons has for decades depicted how racism is expressed and reinforced in all manner of images or pictures, making his point in blurred chalkboard drawings that suggest how images and histories can be erased or altered. In the 1990s, Mr. Simmons gained fame with his smudged chalk-drawn pictures; now he achieves a similar visual effect with oil and cold wax on canvas, as you can see in his current show, “Screaming Into the Ether” at Metro Pictures.
Here, in 20 new pieces drawn in hazy white outline against a gray background are Looney Tunes cartoon characters: Bosko, his girlfriend Honey, and Bosko’s “Little Sister.” These images appeared for the first time in movie theaters in 1930 and were based on racist caricatures of African-Americans couched in the tradition of minstrelsy.
Seen out of context, the blurred Looney Tunes figures might seem harmless or even cute. Canvases like “Anger Issues” (2020) and “Screaming for Vengeance” (2020), however, remind you of what’s at stake in using images in every area of life to bolster white supremacy. Using his hands to smear the outline drawings and the backgrounds, Mr. Simmons symbolically enacts the idea of erasure. These emblems, however, remain part of a potent history — and artists like Mr. Simmons who might have felt he was “screaming into the ether,” are looking particularly prescient. MARTHA SCHWENDENER