1. JONATHAN MONK
Through May 5
Jonathan Monk has established himself as the art-world equivalent of a tribute band—churning out catchy and, at times, transformative echoes of yesterday’s conceptual-art hits. To wit, he shows a mannequin of a bleeding, post-performance Chris Burden (who, for one 1971 video performance, had himself shot in the arm) and repurposes a Sol LeWitt open cube as a dressing room. The best piece, tucked away in the back room, turns Magritte’s iconic bowler hat into a laser pointer. But overall, this is the sort of work that looks great in group shows but doesn’t quite stand up as a solo effort.
2. DANA SCHUTZ
Through May 19
What can you say about a celebrated young painter who, with the ease of a fashion stylist, re-poses the Mona Lisa 90 degrees to her left? Shown in profile, her smile obscured by a curtain of hair, Leonardo’s muse leads us into Schutz’s fascinating (if perplexing) series of what-ifs. The oddest and best canvases, How We Would Give Birth and the large-scale How We Cured the Plague, reveal a painterly imagination that delights in the messy, undignified aspects of the human form.
3. ARI MARCOPOULOS, LEIGH LEDARE, J. H. ENGSTRÖM
Cohan and Leslie
Through May 5
An intriguing trio of loosely autobiographical photographers. Engström, a former assistant to Mario Testino, gives scenes of working-class Swedish life the pale glamour of Victoriana. Marcopoulos’s wall of date-stamped snapshots from a California vacation have the dizzying, attention-deficit appeal of his well-known photographs of snowboarders and the Beastie Boys. Current Columbia M.F.A. student Ledare is the only one who really gets under our skin; his photographs of his mother, a former ballet dancer with a seedy side, eroticize the body even as they reveal its frailty.
4. JIM LAMBIE
Through May 26
In a group of assemblages and wall tapestries made on-site, Glaswegian artist Jim Lambie updates his thrift-store modernism with trendy references to the Middle East. He adorns wall-mounted Persian rugs with bloblike forms of painted wood, women’s shoes, and bits of wire and fabric. Only Self Service (Yellow Eye), a carpet studded with silver trays and draped with necklaces, turns the tired East-meets-West conceit into a funky take on the evil eye. In the back room, an earlier sculpture that makes reference to discordant Scottish power-pop (Jesus and Mary Chain, 2004) suggests that Lambie is more inspired when he stays closer to home.
5. SHINIQUE SMITH/MICKALENE THOMAS
Caren Golden Fine Art
Through May 12
These twinned solo debuts at the gallery showcase color, pattern, and feminine power. Thomas’s photographs and rhinestone-flecked paintings of sultry, Afro’d women combine nostalgia for seventies blaxploitation heroines with of-the-moment bling. They’re too slick, made with one eye on the market, but a wall of curiously unflattering serial portraits of Oprah and Condi shows Thomas moving in a new and promising direction. As for Smith’s bundles of gathered fabric and cast-off accessories, they resemble 3-D graffiti and lend an edge to Thomas’s polished divas, but they don’t add much to this tired genre of sculpture.
6. “REBEL REBEL: REMEMBERING KARLHEINZ WEINBERGER (1921–2006)”
Through May 25
The late Karlheinz Weinberger photographed a gang of working-class Swiss teens who shocked their conservative postwar milieu by styling themselves after James Dean and Elvis. This small but spirited tribute pairs his work with shots by Ryan McGinley, Collier Schorr, and Walter Pfeiffer. McGinley and his contemporaries can’t match the weirdness of Weinberger’s niche (pompadoured biker gangs on bucolic Alpine hilltops!), but theirs is a different form of rebellion: taking clothes off instead of donning denim and chains.