The Touch of the Butterfly at the Johnson Museum

It seems almost inevitable that an artist will internalize a part of themself in their work, perhaps due to consummate passion, perhaps as a result of an unshakeable obligation, These auto-inscriptive tendencies are undeniable, even if hidden. In many ways, the works of an artist serve as a sort of biography, with both surface and subconscious caprices being hidden and displayed in the works and their relations to each other. This is precisely the case in The Touch of the Butterfly: Whistler and His Influence. Located in the Herbert F. Johnson Museum, this exhibition traces the life of James Abbott McNeil Whistler, a riveting biography that is deeply echoed by the evolutions and qualities not only of his own works, but also by the juxtaposed works of other artists who exerted their unique influence on Whistler’s development. While the exhibition spans Whistler’s mastery of a number of media, he was particularly celebrated for his etchings.

Redefining Space at the Johnson

Located in the Gold and Picket Family Video Galleries, Empathy Academy succeeds in synthesizing art and the human experience via an organic transmission of the unspoken immensity of the exhibition to the viewer. While the works embody the material forms conventionally tied to them (sculpture, film, etc.) the medium takes a platform that is undeniably human in nature. In “Colors, Cultures, Knots, and Time,” Ernesto Neto invites the viewer into a space of wordless dialogue. Neto’s installation consists of plastic rings serving as loci from which vividly colored cotton strings connect. The threads are not, however, limited to single hoop; many are seen taking a journey across rings and sharing their own space with that of others.

Public Art Murals Arrive at the Johnson from Roosevelt Island

One step into the exhibition, and immediately the visitor is surrounded by a feeling of peace in the air. The grey walls display the large murals, but somehow the images can be both distinct in certain moments and fade into the background in others. It is grounding to see these works of art from the Federal Art Project, the Great Depression program that employed artists of all styles. The display cases in the exhibition give a good background on the history of each mural and their individual journeys from the day rooms in the Goldwater Hospital on Roosevelt Island to the exhibit at the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art. The real reasoning behind the creation of each painting was to calm the patients as they waited in the day room.