The National Gallery of Art's hours of operation were reported incorrectly in yesterday's Weekend section. The gallery is closed New Year's Day.
HERE A NEW YEAR of museum and gallery shows is about to begin, and you haven't even finished with the old one. Put these toasts of the town on your must-see list, before all the fizz is gone.
PHOTO SPECIALS -- Rolling Stone photographer Annie Leibovitz goes to stay with a few celebrities and after a few days they give her the shirts off their backs. I guess that's what happened to Mick Jagger, Mary Decker, Lauren Hutton and John Lennon. There are just two days left to see this smallish stunner at the Govinda Gallery, 1227 34th Street NW.
And "New Color/New Work," a four-gallery, 18-photographer show, will only be here through January 19. These photos range from Kenneth McGowan presenting a paste-and- plastic pastiche (starring the Incredible Hulk and Alfred Hitchcock's head) at Universal Studios, to Bill Ravenesi's documentation of the Hispanic community of Holyoke, Massachusetts. Ravenesi lived there for two years in a cheap room over a bar to establish his subjects' trust. What first appears to be a group photograph before a grand building sign advertising Coca-Cola turns into a commentary on the housing crisis two years later, with a photo of the building being razed. And sixteen other engaging themes, in living color, at Addison/ Ripley, Kathleen Ewing, Jones Troyer and Middendorf galleries.
THE DEGAS DANCERS: REPRISE -- The Degas company of dancers has been playing to capacity crowds since it opened at the National Gallery East in November.
Under the instruction of dance master Jules Perrot, the women and girls have refined their art to the point where one can scarcely tell them apart. This anonymity is gripping; one becomes lost in their pink froth and gauze. Only occasionally does a performer break character to adjust a strap.
Seen backstage, the ballerinas stretch clumsily and galumph about the wings. But onstage, before the footlights and the coterie of abonn,es, the gentlemen-subscribers that follow their movements, they are all form and light -- a ballet fantasia. And sometimes among the abonn,es one can almost see the painter Edgar Degas.
The show closes March 10. The company will be breaking up then, but some of the dancers will remain here to rejoin the chorus line at the National Gallery. Others will return to prima ballerina status in New York, Paris, Oslo, Munich and Zurich.
The only complaint has been that the ballerinas are too few, and the performance too short.
THE DUKE'S DRAWINGS -- From one of the largest graphic art collections in the world, "Old Master Drawings From the Albertina," also in the East Building of the National Gallery, is a delight to the eye and the mind. These are subtle jewels worthy of quiet contemplation: just the sort of refuge one needs this time of year. And the National Gallery is open New Year's Day.
You have until January 13 to read between the fine lines of Michelangelo, Parmigianino, Rubens, Raphael, Rembrandt -- in all, 75 drawings by 34 old masters.
As a bonus, the Albertina has lent a whole roomful from what's considered the finest Albrecht Durer collection in the world. The famous religious image, his early 16th-century "Praying Hands," has never been exhibited outside the Albertina Museum before. It did leave there rather unexpectedly during World War II when the Albertina collection was spirited away to the salt mines. Bombing in Vienna nearly destroyed the former palace of Duke Albert, who began the collection in the 17th century, but the art was safe.
CONTENTS UNDER PRESSURE -- For one last challenge before another year ends, twit your sensibilities at "Content: A Contemporary Focus," at the Hirshhorn. You won't always like what you see in this survey of the past decade of art, but you won't be bored. There are 157 strange things here by rebels with a cause. The artists send all manner of messages about alienation, angst, blood, gore and nuclear war.
There's a maze to frustrate you (actually, you're supposed to learn something about yourself within those gray walls, so keep an open mind), as well as bizarre performance-art to amuse you, sort of. There are also photos of "emotions personified," which all look like anxiety, and a painting of a brain under barbed wire. A Buddha contemplating himself on television. A jukebox that plays phone conversations. A mannequin waking up to a morning headlight. And, standing for Soviet tanks on parade, 50,000 match-stick-topped nickels.
As a Times Square-type sign in the exhibit suggests, "Confusing yourself is a way of staying honest." Truth serum available at the Hirshhorn through January 6, including New Year's Day.
THE SUN KING -- He played New Orleans, and now he's here for an long engagemen at the Corcoran Gallery -- through April 7. Louis XIV doesn't have the opulence you'd expect of such a king, as he was forced to melt down much of his gold and silver to finance almost continuous warfare. But the many portraits of the Sun King and his loyal subjects, magnificent tapestries, sculptures and a good selection of personal items from his day make up for a lot.
IMPOSSIBLE INTERVIEWS -- Mexican-born Miguel Covarrubias drew brilliant caricatures of American celebrities in the 1920s and '30s, and 84 of his cartoons will be at the Portrait Gallery through January 13. Covarrubias reached the high point of his career as caricaturist with "Impossible Interviews," published in Vanity Fair. On display are 17 brief fantasy- encounters, mismatching, for example, Jean Harlow with Sigmund Freud. Plan to spend some time here, learning about the Jazz Age or reliving it.