PRINT April 2003

’80s THEN

Philip Taaffe

BOB NICKAS: I remember exactly when we met. I had put together a show in the spring of ’85, in a little storefront on Lafayette Street, and included a painting of yours, with a field of abstracted Arp shapes and Playboy bunny heads. This was my “art about art” show. The works you were doing then had some very clear references to Duchamp and Bridget Riley, and some that weren’t as obvious, like Paul Feeley and Myron Stout. It wasn’t until a few years later that you showed me your earliest work, from ’81–82, which was something else entirely.

PHILIP TAAFFE: That’s right.

BN: They were very graphic, mostly black-and-white paintings on Masonite panels, with a kind of seismic energy. When you moved on to the paintings you’re known for—those dealing with issues of opticality and making reference to other artists—did you just get up one day and say, “This is the painting I’m going to make. This is

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