Top five shows: Sept 5–11, 2013

The best of the week in art.

Photograph: Courtesy Michael Werner Gallery

“Tumescence” at Michael Werner
There are indeed pictures of dicks in this group show, featuring works by Peter Doig, Sigmar Polke, Peter Saul and Michael Williams, but the title also refers more generally to painting that is “exuberant” and prone to “discard conventional notions of formal restraint” in favor of “unapologetic sexual exploration of painted imagery.” Bring some Kleenex, maybe? Thu 5–Nov 2

Photograph: Courtesy Lehmann Maupin

Ashley Bickerton at Lehmann Maupin
More than 15 years ago, Bickerton decamped from New York  to live and work in Bali, Indonesia. Since then, the art he’s produced—paintings, mixed-media assemblages and sculptures—suggests  a strange mix of Paul Gauguin, Raymond Chandler and Colonel Kurtz. In a style that’s equal parts cartoonish and hyperreal,  Bickerton depicts paradise as a globalist Gomorrah populated by Thai prostitutes, lei-garlanded hula beauties and his own bad self, all presented as a vision that’s simultaneously alluring and monstrous. Wed 11Oct 26

Photograph: Courtesy of the artist and Petzel

Charline Von Heyl at Petzel Gallery
Von Heyl’s paintings are exemplars of contemporary abstraction, which is to say they’re not very abstract at all, but are, rather, compendiums of coded references to various styles of modern and postmodern art. Her canvases are visually appealing, if not quite as daring as her admirers believe. Still, they’re very much worth a look. Fri 6–Oct 5

Photograph: Courtesy of the artist and White Columns

Kim Gordon, “Design Office with Kim Gordon—since 1980” at White Columns
Besides being the former fronting siren for Sonic Youth, Gordon is an artist, working in such diverse mediums as photography, video, painting and sculpture. This exhibition is the first survey of Gordon’s artistic career, and includes works created between 1980 and the present. Sat 7Oct 19

Photograph: © Janet Cardiff and George Bures

Janet Cardiff, The Forty Part Motet at The Cloisters
As the Met’s first contemporary installation at the Cloisters, its branch for medieval art, the museum is mounting Cardiff’s acclaimed sound work inside the Fuentidueña Chapel. Consisting of 40 speakers placed in an oval, the piece continuously plays an arrangement of a motet choir piece by Tudor composer Thomas Tallis (c. 1505–1585), in which the individual voices have been broken out, one per speaker. Tue 10Dec 8