The city that never sleeps is known globally as a buzzing arts hub. From a Studio 54 exhibition to a Wagner favourite, here are some current and upcoming Big Apple highlights.

Studio 54: Night Magic

Trailblazing nightclub Studio 54 is the subject of an exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum from March. The club was an epicentre of 1970s hedonism and fashion, and became a magnet for the stars of the time, as well as an LGBT-friendly haven. The creativity and glamour of the club is explored, as well as the wider history of New York nightlife from Prohibition through to the ‘70s. Photography, fashion, drawings, film, costume illustrations and set designs are all displayed, illustrating the club’s creation and development – and the ongoing influence the club has had since its sudden closure.

Studio 54: Night Magic is at the Brooklyn Museum from 13 March to 5 July

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Jacques-Louis David meets Kehinde Wiley

Also at the Brooklyn Museum is an intriguing display, Jacques-Louis David meets Kehinde Wiley. The famous 19th-Century painting Bonaparte Crossing the Alps (1800-1) comes face to face with a contemporary work that it inspired. Kehinde Wiley’s Napoleon Leading the Army over the Alps is similarly triumphant in tone, and both paintings cast their leading figure in a heroic light and in the tradition of equestrian portraiture. The juxtaposition of the two works raises interesting questions around race, power and the narrative of history. The project is a result of a collaboration with the Chateau de Malmaison, France.

Jacques-Louis David meets Kehinde Wiley is at the Brooklyn Museum until 10 May

Vida Americana

The deep impact of the Mexican muralists on their US counterparts is explored in an exhibition at the Whitney, Vida Americana: Mexican Muralists Remake American Art. Around 200 artworks by 60 Mexican and US artists are on display, including leading muralists José Clemente Orozco, Diego Rivera and David Alfaro Siqueiros, all of whom spent time in the US. Their influence gave rise to a new attitude in art in the US, and a new willingness to address themes around social and racial justice.

Vida Americana: Mexican Muralists Remake American Art is at the Whitney from 17 February to 17 May

Der Fliegende Holländer

A new production of Wagner’s Der Fliegende Holländer (The Flying Dutchman) comes to the Met Opera in March. The tale of a cursed sea captain, who is fated to sail the seas for ever more, has been reimagined by François Girard, whose 2013 take on Parsifal was widely acclaimed. In this new vision of the Wagner masterpiece, the stage is transformed into a layered tableau that resembles a vast and otherworldly oil painting. The German soprano Anja Kampe performs the role of Senta. The Met, founded in 1883, moved to its new home in 1966. Over the decades, it has played host to the most acclaimed opera singers and conductors in the world, and has staged dozens of world premieres.

Der Fliegende Hollander is at the Metropolitan Opera from 2 to 27 March


A retrospective of work by US sculptor Donald Judd takes place at MoMA from the start of March. The evolution of the artist’s work is explored, from his paintings and objects, through to his later sculptures. A landmark figure in post-war art, Judd became associated with minimalism, and developed from an abstract painter into a creator of the rectilinear sculptures for which he later became known. MoMA argues that Judd, who died in 1994, was an artist of “remarkable vision” who “revolutionised the history of sculpture”. There are around 60 works shown, drawn from both public and private collections around the world.

Judd is at MoMA  from 1 March to 11 July

Ballerina: Fashion’s Modern Muse

Fashion lovers and ballet enthusiasts alike will enjoy a large-scale exhibition now on at the Museum at FIT. Ballerina: Fashion’s Modern Muse explores the influences of classical ballet on modern fashion. The show features a wide array of exhibits, from tutu-inspired gowns to ready-to-wear looks based on ballet-training garb. Among the evening gowns displayed are pieces by Gabrielle ‘Coco’ Chanel, Pierre Balmain, Charles James and Christian Dior. Ballet costumes worn by legendary ballerinas Anna Pavlova and Margot Fonteyn are also shown.

Ballerina: Fashion’s Modern Muse is the Museum at FIT until 18 April

Project 19

Project 19 is a multi-season initiative by the New York Philharmonic Orchestra that features commissions by 19 women composers. The series of concerts have been organised in honour of the centennial of the 19th Amendment. This month, acclaimed soprano Renée Fleming performs songs by Icelandic singer/songwriter Björk, and Jaap van Zweden leads Bruckner’s Fourth Symphony. The concerts take place at the David Geffen Hall at the Lincoln Center, the home of the world-renowned orchestra.

Project 19 is at David Geffen Hall from 20 to 22 February

Eileen Gray

The Irish architect-designer Eileen Gray is the fascinating subject of an exhibition at the Bard Graduate Center. Exploring her entire career, including her painting and photography, the exhibition reveals how Gray created her most famous work, a groundbreaking villa in the South of France, and also features furniture and lacquer never displayed before. Organised in collaboration with the Centre Pompidou, Paris, the exhibition shines a light on a pioneering woman who led an extraordinary life.

Eileen Gray is at the Bard Graduate Center from 29 February to 12 July

Swan Lake

New York City Ballet present the beloved Tchaikovsky work Swan Lake at the Lincoln Center in February, performing the one-act version, which premiered in 1951. The distilled version was created by choreographer George Balanchine who, along with Lincoln Kirstein, founded the New York City Ballet with the aim to reimagine the principles of classical dance.

Swan Lake is at the David H Koch Theatre, Lincoln Center, from 14 to 23 February

Countryside, the Future

Architect Rem Koolhaas has collaborated with think-tank director Samir Bantal to create an exhibition at the Guggenheim titled Countryside, the Future. It explores changes in rural, remote and wild territories, which make up 98% of the Earth’s surface. Installations examine ideas around leisure, climate change, migration, ecosystems and planning.

Countryside, the Future is at the Guggenheim from 20 February to 14 August

Gerhard Richter: Painting After All

Widely regarded as one of the most significant contemporary artists alive today, the prolific Gerhard Richter is the subject of a retrospective at the Met Breuer. He is known for his stylistic variation, and his paintings have ranged from abstract to photorealistic. More than 100 paintings by the German artist are displayed, as well as other pieces including sculpture, photography and digital works. The 2006 series Cage and the more recent House of Cards are featured.

Gerhard Richter: Painting After All is at the Met Breuer from 4 March to 5 July

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