We know D.C. Get our free newsletter to stay in the know.

TO MAR. 10

Plato (as all victims of freshman philosophy learn) hated art. An art object, according to the thinker, is twice-debased—an imitation of a physical object, which is, itself, an imitation of an ideal form. Surely, then, the old man would have been outraged by David Levinthal’s “The Wild West: 1986-2002″—photographs of toy cowboys and horses that are based on an idealized version of the Wild West as seen in the Hollywood of Johns Ford and Wayne. Levinthal has made a career of shooting toys as still-lifes, and many images in the Wild West series successfully make the leap to the surreal: Levinthal creates little psychological dramas, in which the viewer finds himself empathizing with the 3-inch figurines. In part, this is made possible by the toys themselves, which seem unusually detailed and well-proportioned for action figures. But Levinthal also swipes the vocabulary of Hollywood, most often creating exaggerated, parched desert scenes with fire-red skies, and sometimes the dark, murky cinematography of film noir, as in Wild West (pictured; annoyingly, all the pieces in the show are named Wild West). Sure, it’s all a little silly. But then so are the films on which it’s all based. “The Wild West: 1986-2002” is on view from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday, Saturday, and Tuesday to Thursday; and from noon to 5 p.m. Sunday, to Sunday, Mar. 10, at Conner Contemporary Art, 1730 Connecticut Ave. NW, 2nd Floor. Free. (202) 588-8750. (Jandos Rothstein)