TUESDAY, MAY 2
Opening: Eric Fischl at Skarstedt
Eric Fischl’s new show is titled after Late America (2016), a painting in which a boy, wrapped in an American flag, stares down at a curled-up nude man lying by a pool. It’s no surprise that the artist considers this confusing work a metaphor for our times, which are characterized by kinds of misery we can barely understand. For this show, Fischl continued to paint surrealist tableaux where the quaintness of small-town America is tainted by lurid forms of sexuality and violence. Other works include a painting of a woman as she’s about to pour a beer over a baby and a painting that revisits a character from an earlier work from 1984.
Skarstedt, 550 West 21st Street, 6–8 p.m.
WEDNESDAY, MAY 3
Opening: Lynette Yiadom-Boakye at New Museum
The first thing you notice about Lynette Yiadom-Boakye’s portraits of black men and women is her subjects’ eyes. Sometimes they gaze off in the distance; sometimes they look directly at a viewer. In either case, the eyes are often the most immediately affecting element in her paintings, which double as reflections of how we look at portraits. The Turner Prize–nominated British artist’s piercing images of blackness dramatically revise the history of portraiture to include black sitters and, in doing so, meditate on who has been kept out of art history. Rendered in drab colors reminiscent of Édouard Manet’s canvases, Yiadom-Boakye’s paintings are also autobiographical—for the artist, these works allude to her West African heritage.
New Museum, 235 Bowery, 11 a.m.–6 p.m.
Opening: “Invisible Man” at Martos Gallery
After 16 years in Chelsea, Martos Gallery has relocated to Chinatown, where it is now near hip downtown outfits like Foxy Production and Lomex Gallery. Its new space will be inaugurated with “Invisible Man,” a four-person group show that takes its name from the 1952 Ralph Ellison novel. The artists included here—Torkwase Dyson, Kayode Ojo, Pope.L, and Jessica Vaughn—all deal with identity in their work, often through abstract means. For Vaughn, in particular, abstraction can be a way of exploring how identity is often hidden. In the past, she has taken real upholstered seats from Chicago public transit and arranged them in grids, so as to suggest a system in which its users go unseen.
Martos Gallery, 41 Elizabeth Street, 6–8 p.m.
THURSDAY, MAY 4
Opening: “Rei Kawakubo / Commes des Garçons: Art of the In-Between” at Metropolitan Museum of Art
The Met’s much-anticipated spring Costume Institute show focuses on the clothes that Rei Kawakubo has created for the brand Commes de Garçons. Since the 1980s, the Japanese designer’s work has imploded divisions between tastes for high and low, good and bad. (In one particularly audacious design that proved prescient given the garb on the new Hulu show The Handmaid’s Tale, Kawakubo had a model wear a bright red dress that arched upward to form a pointed hood.) This 150-work exhibit focuses on how opposites come together in Kawakubo’s work, including how her clothes bridge elements from the past and present, and how her designs mess with our sense of identity.
Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1000 Fifth Avenue, 10 a.m.–5:30 p.m.
Opening: Whitfield Lovell at DC Moore
For the past four decades, Whitfield Lovell’s work has explored memory, history, and loss. Included in his most known works are often charcoal portraits of black Americans based on photographs dating from between the Antebellum era and the Civil War. This show focuses on the artist’s early work, made between 1987 and 1998, with the exhibition title “What’s Past Is Prologue.” Tracking Lovell’s drawings, installations, and sculptures as he studied European painting and then broke away from that paradigm, the show will include such works as Rite (1997), an oil stick and charcoal work on paper in which a man’s nude body appears to be consumed by foliage.
DC Moore, 535 West 22nd Street, 2nd Floor, 6–8 p.m.
Opening: Nairy Baghramian at Marian Goodman Gallery
Nairy Baghramian’s mysterious sculptures look like body parts, but then again, maybe not. Her tumorous-looking blobs, which often are affixed to or include metal rails that resemble pipes, can sometimes have the effect of looking organic. For Baghramian, whose work is currently included in Documenta’s Athens section and will be seen later this year at Skulptur Projekte Münster and the Walker Art Center, these bizarre objects are about the relationships between people and systems. Something of a favorite in the European biennial scene, Baghramian is having her second New York solo show this week. Titled “Dwindle Down,” the exhibition will focus specifically on connections between art and the space of the gallery, loosely alluding to how a place shapes who and what we are.
Marian Goodman Gallery, 24 West 57th Street, 6–8 p.m.
Opening: Ellsworth Kelly at Matthew Marks Gallery
To commemorate Ellsworth Kelly after his death in 2015, at the age of 92, Matthew Marks Gallery is putting on two shows of the painter’s work. One is dedicated to Kelly’s last ten paintings, which, like many others he painted over the course of his life, are shaped canvases, some with just one bright color. These paintings explore space, perception, and color—the very things that underlie how we see art. The other exhibition is given over to Kelly’s plant drawings, which the artist once noted are “exact observations of the form of the leaf or flower or fruit seen. Nothing is changed or added.”
Matthew Marks Gallery, 522 West 22nd Street and 526 West 22nd Street, 6–8 p.m.
Opening: Tabor Robak at Team Gallery
It may sound like the name of a science fiction novel, but “Quantaspectra,” the title Tabor Robak has given to this show, refers to “quantification via the color spectrum”—the way that designers color-code objects and characters in comic books, cartoons, and games. Robak has produced seven single-channel animations based on that concept, each centered on a single hue. Drawing on the language of corporate design, these new digital works will feature violent creatures, to symbolize red, and luxury goods, for orange. The artist considers these works statements about how companies have taken over the experience of the digital sphere, subtly manipulating us to feel certain ways.
Team Gallery, 83 Grand Street, 6–8 p.m.
FRIDAY, MAY 5
Opening: Barbara Bloom at David Lewis
Barbara Bloom’s work typically takes the form of collections arranged to expose connections between objects. Some might be considered institutional critique, for the way her work could be seen as a way of studying curating. Her 1988–89 installation The Reign of Narcissism, for example, was a grouping of sculptures and books, all elaborate simulacra, about Bloom herself—a study of institutions’ obsession with amassing objects related to various artists. This show, Bloom’s first with David Lewis, is intriguingly titled “A Picture, a Thousand Words.”
David Lewis, 88 Eldridge Street, 5th Floor, 6–8 p.m.
SATURDAY, MAY 6
Opening: Daniel Herr and Guy Walker at Safe Gallery
This show features paintings and sculptures by Daniel Herr and Guy Walker, respectively. Herr offers canvases that playfully move in and out of abstraction, tackling everything from the brutality of American football to landscapes both bucolic and suburban. Walker’s plaster-cast sculptures are totemic forms inside of large plastic bags and then twisted into idiosyncratic shapes. Most are splashed with colors, though some—referred to by the artist as “ghosts”—are left unpainted. Others burst open at the top (the artist calls those “vases”). Combined, the forms create a sort of ad-hoc ecosystem within the gallery.
Safe Gallery, 1004 Metropolitan Ave, Brooklyn, 7–9 p.m.