St. Louis

Lari Pittman, Thanksgiving, 1985, oil and synthetic polymer on wood, 80 x 82 1/8".

St. Louis

“Lari Pittman: A Decorated Chronology”

Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis
3750 Washington Blvd.
May 24–August 11, 2013

Curated by Kelly Shindler

Lari Pittman’s paintings are notoriously difficult to describe. Intricate layers of foreground and background combined with a dazzling array of mark-making (spray painting, sign painting, precise curlicues applied like spun sugar, and the list goes on) defy single-point perspective, monocular camera vision, and abstraction. Pittman shows us what the world looks like when hierarchy is banished and everything is equal. It’s no coincidence that looking at his paintings feels like being in a car—objects in the mirror are closer than they appear, a moving landscape perpetually framed behind glass; this is democracy via Los Angeles, and it’s troubling, beautiful, and fantastic. CAM St. Louis’s modest survey (comprising thirty works from the mid-1980s to the present) and its catalogue with an essay by Shindler (and a reprint of my own 2011 interview with Pittman) promise to kick-start a nationwide reckoning with one of our greatest living artists.