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Top five shows: Dec 5–11, 2013

The best of the week in art.

 (Photograph: Courtesy Dominique Lévy Gallery)
Photograph: Courtesy Dominique Lévy Gallery

“Boris Mikhailov: Four Decades”
Dominique Lévy Gallery, through Feb 8
Mikhailov, known for unsparing photos of daily life in Russia during the Soviet and post-Soviet eras, is surveyed in this collection of works spanning 40 years. With a style that swung between the documentary and the hallucinatory, he managed to capture the undercurrent of abjection that shot through all levels of the Soviet Union, revealing a society beset by the consequences of its own fatalism and willingness to endure despotism.

 (Photograph: Whitney Museum of American Art; New York; Steichen/Vanity Fair; © Condé Nast)
Photograph: Whitney Museum of American Art; New York; Steichen/Vanity Fair; © Condé Nast

“Edward Steichen in the 1920s and 1930s: A Recent Acquisition”
Whitney Museum of American Art, Fri 6–Feb 23
Steichen’s work for Condé Nast figures prominently in this collection of photos recently donated to the Whitney, and includes not only his portraits of Tinseltown celebs from the period but also stunning nature studies.

 (Photograph: Yale University Art Gallery; New Haven)
Photograph: Yale University Art Gallery; New Haven

“Ink Art: Past as Present in Contemporary China”
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Wed 11–Apr 6
The past is prologue for the 35 contemporary Chinese artists in this exhibition, who have all, in one way or the next, found a model for their work in some aspect of China’s rich cultural legacy.

 (Photograph: Courtesy Sikkema Jenkins & Co.)
Photograph: Courtesy Sikkema Jenkins & Co.

Tony Feher
Sikkema Jenkins & Co., through Jan 18
Feher works his usual magic with flotsam and jetsam in his latest show, which includes such items as a curtain made of pieces of glassware dangling from silver chains, and a row of bottles, filled with varying shades of blue liquid, sitting serenely on a shelf.

 (Photograph: Courtesy Eleven Rivington; NY)
Photograph: Courtesy Eleven Rivington; NY

TM Davy, “Candela”
Eleven Rivington, through Dec 22
A series of small (eight-by-ten-inch) paintings offers different takes on the same theme, a single candle bouncing its warm light off an adjacent subject. The intimate quality of the images mirrors the intimacy, underscoring the act of viewing itself.