The Ultimate Culture Guide 2009: C

Cave Complex

We’re obsessed with Nick Cave—not the Australian writer and musician of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. Our Nick Cave is a 50-year-old Chicago artist who has catapulted to the forefront of the art world with his Soundsuits. These fanciful costumes (one is on the cover of this issue) are made using colored hair or found fabrics that are embroidered and beaded and often topped by armatures adorned with thrift-shop objects, ranging from children’s toys to porcelain figures.

Cave’s Soundsuits seem to draw on references as diverse as African ceremonial costumes and haute couture, and even, in some cases, the towering hoods of the Ku Klux Klan. Displayed as mannequinlike sculptures, they are wearable, and Cave (once a dancer with Alvin Ailey) occasionally uses them in performances.

The artist had a much-talked-about show this winter at Jack Shainman Gallery in New York, and he was a standout in the acclaimed “30 Americans” show of works by black artists recently at the Rubell Family Collection in Miami. Now the largest-ever exhibition of Cave’s Soundsuits is at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco through July 5.

FYI, the other Nick Cave does have a new novel: The Death of Bunny Munro, a dark tale of a door-to-door hand-cream salesman in England who is a sexual predator, will be published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux in September.

The Collector

It may not be an expansive moment in the art world, but François Pinault, one of the biggest collectors on the planet, is opening a spectacular museum space on Venice’s Grand Canal—his second—on June 6, just as international curators, dealers, and collectors descend upon the city for the Biennale. After scrapping plans to build a museum on the outskirts of Paris four years ago, the French luxury-goods mogul paid $37 million for the Palazzo Grassi, which he is keeping for temporary shows. But when the opportunity came up to acquire the Punta della Dogana, a 17th-century customs house, he couldn’t resist, beating out a proposal from the Guggenheim Museum. Following a reported $26 million renovation by architect Tadao Ando, the 46,000-square-foot building will showcase Pinault’s vast blue-chip collection of modern and contemporary works.

Cocooning

This project by British design genius Ross Lovegrove seems a perfect sanctuary for the times: the stylish, off-the-grid Alpine Capsule, planned for 2010 in the Italian Dolomites, offering 360-degree views from the inside.

Centers of Gravity

This spring marks a half-century since a crowd of thousands joined President Eisenhower at a groundbreaking ceremony, led by Leonard Bernstein, for the urban renewal project that transformed the gritty Manhattan slums of West Side Story into a 16-acre acropolis for the arts. Lincoln Center, which consolidates venues for opera, ballet, music, and theater, has since served as a model for other arts complexes, including the new Dallas Center for the Performing Arts. The most important such project in decades, the latter features state-of-the-art performance halls by Norman Foster and Rem Koolhaas opening this fall.

Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts

As it celebrates 50 years, Lincoln Center is undergoing a facelift to enliven the public spaces and upgrade aging facilities, with architects Diller Scofidio + Renfro as the lead designers. This winter their major renovation of Alice Tully Hall (right) opened to raves, while the transformation of West 65th Street into a more open and pedestrian-friendly “street of the arts” is well under way. Still to come: a restaurant topped by a parklike grassy lawn; an overhaul of Philip Johnson’s central plaza and fountain as well as the grand staircase; and numerous updates to the State (now David H. Koch) Theater.

Site: 16 acres

Cost of construction: The original cost was $185 million (about $1 billion today); current renovations are estimated at $1.2 billion.

Venues: Best known of the 23 are the Metropolitan Opera House, Avery Fisher Hall, the Koch Theater, and Alice Tully Hall.

Resident Companies: The 12 include the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, the Film Society of Lincoln Center, Jazz at Lincoln Center, the Juilliard School, Lincoln Center Theater, the Metropolitan Opera, the New York City Ballet, the New York City Opera, and the New York Philharmonic (pictured at left led by Kurt Masur).

Performances per year: Several thousand

Annual attendance: Five million

Performances per year: Several thousand

Upcoming Performances: Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble will perform a televised concert in the renovated Damrosch Park band shell (June 9). In September the Met Opera opens with a new Tosca directed by Luc Bondy, and Alan Gilbert debuts as the Philharmonic’s music director. 212-875-5000; lincolncenter.org

Dallas Center for the Performing Arts

Few sites can claim the Pritzker winners boasted by Dallas’s Arts District, already home to buildings by I. M. Pei and Renzo Piano. Foster + Partners designed the 2,200-seat Margot and Bill Winspear Opera House (interior, below left), a dramatic red lozenge peering above a steel canopy. That canopy extends out over Annette Strauss Artist Square, an outdoor venue for 5,000. Rem Koolhaas and Joshua Prince-Ramus did the daring 600-seat Dee and Charles Wyly Theatre, which has a skin of aluminum rods and glass walls at the base allowing audience views to the city beyond. Skidmore, Owings & Merrill’s City Performance Hall will open in 2011.

Site: 10 acres

Cost of construction: $354 million

Venues: The Winspear Opera House, the Wyly Theatre, Strauss Square, and City Performance Hall

Resident companies: Dallas Theater Center, the Dallas Opera, Dallas Black Dance Theatre (right), Texas Ballet Theater, and the Anita N. Martinez Ballet Folklorico

Performances per year: 600

Annual attendance 850,000 (expected)

Upcoming Performances: In addition to free performances, architectural forums, and tours during the center’s inaugural week (October 12–18), the Dallas Opera debuts at the Winspear with Verdi’s Otello; future performances include a world première of Jake Heggie’s Moby-Dick next April. 214-954-9925; dallasperformingarts.org