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PRINT March 2003

The Painter: Thomas Lawson

THROUGH THE SELECTIVE LENS OF ART HISTORY, WE TEND to see the critical melee of the early ’80s as a focused duel between the photo-based art of “Pictures” and brushy neo-expressionism. Although this formulation allows for the later emergence of more restrained, geometric canvases by the likes of Philip Taaffe and Peter Halley, it largely ignores the alternative modes of painting that flourished at the turn of the decade, including that advanced by Thomas Lawson. The Scottish-born painter and critic came to New York in 1975 and soon began publishing insightful essays and masterful exhibition reviews in the pages of Art in America, Flash Art, Artforum, and Real Life, the magazine he cofounded in 1979. In his writing and his own painting practice, Lawson developed one of the most cogent and controversial approaches to the medium in the ’80s—pursuing a critical agenda commonly ascribed to the

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