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MARTHA DIAMOND: SENSATION RISING

THE LARGE OIL PAINTINGS that Martha Diamond showed in New York two seasons ago took some extra scrutinizing before their visibility, and even their sensational impacts, could register. Disoriented viewers tended to shrug them off precipitously. Taken as exercises in a postreductive, painterly abstract style, Diamond’s blithely charged surfaces seemed too glib, too erratic, diverse, or, worse, hastily slapped down; as emotive imagist glyphs, too nonchalant, rarefied, and obscure. “Nothing much at first,” “not much going on,” went the adumbrations in two local critics’ lead sentences before those writers settled into telling what, after staying with the work for a time, they had seen and appreciated.

The nonplussed reactions to Diamond’s show suggest a cautionary tale about the checkout quotient from works that require more than a first glance in the stressed-out sensorium of the art public.

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