From Late Monet to New Mark Ryden

As top collectors pour into town for spring art auctions that may total nearly $1 billion, Chelsea galleries put out their best wares. This season features a slew of fantasy images, works by women artists and one museum-style, Impressionist-art blockbuster.

Here, from downtown north, is a stroll through some of our favorite selections.

1. Claude Monet

Gagosian, 522 W. 21st St.

The blockbuster of the spring. Much less sticky-sweet than the traditional Monet retrospective (the usual sun-dappled women with parasols and haystacks in the sunset), this staggeringly beautiful show focuses on the late paintings of the French master. Some are clearly unfinished, even just suggestions of other works, but Gagosian here collects them into a savvy, fleshed-out timeline that tells a story of both the artist and of painting. Executed when Monet’s eyes were failing, many of the paintings show the water lilies of Giverny seeming to blur into the river, presaging abstract art.

2. Kiki Smith

Pace, 545 W. 22nd St.

This spring, Ms. Smith has her first New York gallery show in eight years. It’s curiously austere and memorable: She builds a chapel-like space of panels of milky-white glass with scenes and portraits sketched on them in gray. The people, and a moment in time, seem to be captured within each pane of glass.

 

 

3. Anne Truitt

Matthew Marks, 522 W. 22nd St.

 

 

In 1968, influential art critic Clement Greenberg dubbed sculptor Anne Truitt “The Changer,” and said she was “less well-known than she should be as a radical innovator.” That low profile continued for much of her life, but a retrospective at the Hirshhorn Museum last year, plus reinstallation of her work by the Museum of Modern Art in its Minimalism room, are bringing her fresh attention. (Her collectors include Project Runway‘s Tim Gunn, as she was one of his art teachers.) A leader of the 1960s new wave, Truitt’s large-sale wooden sculptures are saturated with color.

4. “Girl Talk”

Pavel Zoubok, 533 W. 23rd St.

In the 1970s, Colette was a groundbreaking performance artist, staging major events and switching names and personas like the giant hats she is famous for wearing. Here, some of her collages and sculptures are paired with work by India Evans, a younger artist whose images manage to be both pretty and substantial.

5. Simon English

Robert Goff, 537B W. 23rd St.

This British artist came a little late to the Young British Artist party, since he was in Charles Saatchi’s YBA III exhibition (everybody in the first one pretty much got famous). He’s better known for painting, but here he exhibits both drawings and small, raw, very personal works.

6. Amir Zaki

Perry Rubenstein, 527 W. 23rd St.

What are they? The buildings Mr. Zaki photographs in his moody, color-saturated shots are difficult to identify. Are they futuristic birdhouses? Studios on stilts? Actually, he shoots empty lifeguard towers against the California sky. Stripped of their context (and, often, their ladders’), the structures are sculptures suspended in mid-air.

7. Matthias Schaller

Danziger Projects, 534 W. 24th St.

Before famous German collector Gert Elfering sold his collection of more than 100 photographs at Christie’s auction house, he commissioned Mr. Schaller to photograph them. Mr. Schaller did so, arranging them in inventive groups and leaning them up against the auction-house wall, creating both an artwork and a souvenir. The result is one of the more unusual bodies of work on view in New York.

From Late Monet to New Mark Ryden