Art & DesignNYTimes

14 Art Exhibitions to View in N.Y.C. This Weekend

‘MAKING MARVELS: SCIENCE & SPLENDOR AT THE COURTS OF EUROPE’ at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (through March 1). This exhibition brings together nearly 170 elaborately crafted objects, many never seen in the United States: the mesmerizing 41-carat “Dresden Green,” an ornate silver table decorated with sea nymphs, a clock with Copernicus depicted in gilded brass. Some, like a chariot carrying the wine god Bacchus, are spectacularly inventive — Bacchus can raise a toast, roll his eyes and even stick out his tongue. Some, like a charming rhinoceros, a collage created from tortoiseshell, pearls and shells, are merely lovely. The show could have been simply a display of ornamental wealth for the one percent of long ago, an abundance of gold and silver that was meant to be shown off in any way possible. But “Making Marvels” is about more than that. (James Barron)
212-535-7710, metmuseum.org

‘THE ORCHID SHOW: JEFF LEATHAM’S KALEIDOSCOPE’ at the New York Botanical Garden (Feb. 15-20, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; through April 19). February in the city is a notoriously depressing time. When it’s not frigid and dark, it’s wet and dim. But at this annual flower showcase in the Bronx, springtime seems within reach. Leatham, this year’s guest designer and the artistic director of the Four Seasons Hotel George V in Paris, has created mirrored sculptures to multiply the thousands of orchids he’s assembled with the help of the curator Marc Hachadourian. Amplified by the exhibition’s dramatic lighting and other embellishments, the flowers’ diverse shapes and colors are transformed into complex patterns. On select evenings throughout the show’s run, those designs will provide a suitably extravagant backdrop for performances by Princess Lockerooo and Harold O’Neal. (Peter Libbey)
718-817-8700, nybg.org

‘SAHEL: ART AND EMPIRES ON THE SHORES OF THE SAHARA’ at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (through May 10). Sahel derives from the Arabic word for shore or coast. It was the name once given by traders crossing the oceanic Sahara to the welcoming grasslands that marked the desert’s southern rim, terrain that is now Mali, Mauritania, Niger and Senegal. To early travelers, art from the region must have looked like a rich but bewildering hybrid. It still does, which may be one reason it stands, in the West, somewhat outside an accepted “African” canon. This fabulous exhibition goes for the richness. One look tells you that variety within variety, difference talking to difference, is the story here. New ideas spring up from local soil and arrive from afar. Ethnicities and ideologies collide and embrace. Cultural influences get swapped, dropped and recouped in a multitrack sequencing that is the very definition of history. (Cotter)
212-535-7710, metmuseum.org

‘T. REX: THE ULTIMATE PREDATOR’ at the American Museum of Natural History (through Aug. 9). Everyone’s favorite 18,000-pound prehistoric killer gets the star treatment in this eye-opening exhibition, which presents the latest scientific research on T. rex and also introduces many other tyrannosaurs, some discovered only in this century in China and Mongolia. T. rex evolved mainly during the Cretaceous period to have keen eyes, spindly arms and massive conical teeth, which packed a punch that has never been matched by any other creature; the dinosaur could even swallow whole bones, as affirmed here by a kid-friendly display of fossilized excrement. The show mixes 66-million-year-old teeth with the latest 3-D prints of dino bones, and also presents new models of T. rex as a baby, a juvenile and a full-grown annihilator. Turns out this most savage beast was covered with — believe it! — a soft coat of beige or white feathers. (Farago)
212-769-5100, amnh.org

‘CHARLES RAY AND THE HILL COLLECTION’ at the Hill Art Foundation (through Feb. 15). This Los Angeles-based sculptor is one of the most painstaking artists working today; he’s certainly among the slowest, taking years to finish a single statue of silver or aluminum, and that makes every exhibition of his an event. This knife-sharp show, which Ray has installed himself with his habitual exactitude, contrasts five bronzes of the 15th and 16th centuries (of a lion, of Bacchus, of Christ on the cross) with his own sculptures of a sleeping mime reclining on a daybed, or a mountain lion tearing into a stray dog in the Hollywood Hills. Where his Renaissance and Baroque predecessors used molds and wax to cast their sculptures, Ray relies on 3-D scanning and CNC machining: highly precise technologies that translate objects into data that can be output to a robotic mill. But his concerns are the same as artists 500 years gone — how bodies can be transubstantiated into precious metal, and take on new meaning and value. (Farago)
212-337-4455, hillartfoundation.org

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