Arguably the greatest movie musical ever made, Singin’ in the Rain is celebrated as much for its songs and dances as its behind-the-scenes lore: Gene Kelly’s 101-degree fever while filming the title number; Donald O’Connor taking to his bed with exhaustion after filming “Make ’Em Laugh”—only to have to reshoot it days later due to a camera malfunction; Debbie Reynolds rehearsing until her feet bled. But of all the “making of” stories, the most impressive is that Reynolds, only 19 at the time, learned to dance in just three months to play leading lady Kathy Selden.

Most people know far less than they should about Stuart Davis, one of America’s most important modern artists. Yet if you can simply understand how the plucky 20th–century painter managed to have his cake and eat it too, you’ll be well on your way to comprehending his significance. Exactly how he did this and why it made for such noteworthy art is enticingly revealed by Stuart Davis: In Full Swing, a peppy new exhibit currently on view at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City through September 25.

When my friend Jane told me she was doing a complete renovation of her pied-à-terre, I was disheartened because I liked the apartment just as it was (and, yeah, because change always depresses me). But when I visited her after the work was finished, I was surprised—and relieved—to find the place looking exactly the same as I remembered. “Yes,” said Jane, “I’ve just spent a fortune on things that only I can see.” I thought of this imperceptibly rehabbed apartment last week, when I paid my first visit to the Met Breuer. 

If you’re simply interested in spending some pleasant time with pretty pictures of ballerinas, Edgar Degas: A Strange New Beauty is not the exhibit for you. Currently on display at New York’s Museum of Modern Art, the show of 120 rarely seen Degas monotypes—plus 60 related drawings, pastels, prints, sketchbooks and paintings—focuses on the artist’s process and will prove most engaging to art makers themselves or those keen on contemplating the connections between materials and imagination.

It’s hard to know just what to think of Peggy Guggenheim. A genuinely impressive life, hers was also often a rather sad one, needlessly made so by her own unfortunate choices. By turns a compelling and exasperating figure, she receives an evenhanded treatment in her latest biography, Peggy Guggenheim: The Shock of the Modern, by novelist Francine Prose.