Sympathy for the Devil


In his seven-foot-square riff on the Stones’ 1972 Hot Rocks album cover (in which the band members’ darkened profiles nest within each other like Russian dolls), Gerhard adds a pair of glowing, drippy eyes that confront the viewer from the depths of Keith Richards’s unfathomable brain. In The March (2006), a mob of black figures, their eyes mere streaks of white as if caught in motion by a blinding photo flash, wade through the Washington Monument’s reflecting pool toward an indistinct, backlit blond couple. Is this canvas, covered with gouts of paint spattered across a hellish pink sky, predicting a day of reckoning after four decades of unfulfilled promise? There is a baleful cast to this German painter’s work, but his complex compositions of faux lens flares obscuring outdoor festivals and abstract arcs of bright pigment slathered over idyllic country houses prove darkly alluring.

Mayumi Lake

Children often have imaginary friends; the 40-year-old Lake conflates the companion of her own youth with the silicone fantasies available to men in Japanese “love hotels.” Taking a pass on the one-use-only, take-home vagina, she rented a sex doll and photographed herself cuddling and communing with her silent playmate. And although it’s an old bit to—spoiler alert!—photograph the crook of an armpit as a stand-in for female pubes, an image from Lake’s “Poo-chi” series, with its pink schoolgirl-skirt ruffle, places kiddie porn squarely in the eye of the beholder. M.Y. Art Prospects, 547 W 27th, 212-268-7132. Through June 24

‘Girodet: Romantic Rebel’

A rambunctious Spielberg to his teacher David’s more elegant Coppola, J.L. Girodet (1767–1824) filled his neoclassical canvases with blockbuster effects: Shafts of light cascade onto a sleeping shepherd, his fey, marble-white curves echoed by the arc of a snoozing dog’s back and a swooping cherub as flamboyant as a flamenco dancer. A small sketch, The Burial of Atala, is animated by quick ink flourishes; an even tinier oil study for a battle scene consists of color daubs as atomized as any impressionist painting. Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1000 Fifth Ave, 212-535-7710. Through Aug 27

John Salvest

The beauty of Salvest’s work lies in his transformation of workaday detritus into witty, at times profound, memento mori. Chewed gum forms a two-foot cone suspended from the seat of a wooden stool, the sticky ghosts of generations of schoolkids; thousands of wine corks coalesce into a pitted Doric column. In the gallery’s courtyard, 247 weathered milk crates are stacked in rough red, white, and blue rows, and a smaller flag is conjured from pencil leads and erasers—ruminations, perhaps, on the transience of empire. Morgan Lehman, 317 Tenth Ave, 212-268-6699. Through June 24

Ed Musante

This San Francisco artist paints birds on cigar boxes, sometimes letting existing graphics show through his well-observed avian bodies, wings, and feathers. A Western bluebird perches on a strand of barbed wire, its warm brown breast framed by the green-and-yellow “El Verso” box border; a bluejay opens its black beak wide, hectoring the surgeon general’s warning visible over its shoulder. Kestrels and falcons stare directly at the viewer, as remorseless as lung cancer. Paul Thiebaud, 42 E 76th, 212-737-9759. Through July 1

Stanley Goldstein

Using home videos as source material, Goldstein imparts easy, natural movement to his figure paintings. A pyramid of weaving bodies, each cut off at the waist by bright-blue water, is capped by swift acrylic strokes delineating a girl dangling her legs in the pool; oils of dancers at the barre are observed from outdoors and juxtapose tree branches and window frames against the sinuous geometries of the ballerinas. George Billis, 511 W 25th, 212-645-2621. Through June 10

Rebecca Norris Webb

Webb photographs reflections in the glass walls separating us from captive animals: A chimpanzee seems to hug a little girl to its breast; a reclining orangutan is joined to a brunette-haired family, the image as darkly atmospheric as a Caravaggio; a beluga whale swims in the sky over the heads of bundled-up onlookers. Surreal and tinged with sadness, these images capture a fundamental, if unequal, communion. Ricco Maresca, 529 W 20th, 212-627-4819. Through June 24

Gutenberg Bible

There it sits, the ur-book of Western civ, its hand-illuminated, colorful drop caps providing relief from regimented columns of gothic script. Printed circa 1455, the paper has retained its flexibility, the black ink glossier than what you’re reading now. Although the book form was already understood from previously hand-scribed tomes, Johann Gutenberg’s developement of movable type broadened the church’s Mass into everything “mass” we take for granted today: media, production, education, entertainment. Make the pilgrimage—jpegs simply cannot compare. NYPL, Humanities and Social Sciences Library, Fifth Ave & 42nd, 212-869-8089. Through Aug 31