Los Angeles

Martial Raysse

Dwan Gallery

This new work by one of Paris’ younger New Realists deals with commercial type newness and fashion. He takes large photo blow-ups of beautiful women and colors them in with intense fluorescent paints. He then affixes such things as powder puffs, hand mirrors, oversized sun glasses and other paraphernalia of the feminine, fashion-magazine ideal. The intent is to reduce the subject to complete ridiculousness by heightening the visual effect to an almost hallucinatory level. The pictures do succeed in ridiculing their subject matter, but fall short of the intended hypnotic level and emotional impact. They come off as amusing cartoons satirizing a society’s commitment to commercial banality. But, unfortunately, they lack the bite of a similarly inspired cartoonist such as Saul Steinberg, and they completely miss the point of such American Pop artists as Lichtenstein and Warhol who play their subjects against spatial concerns in order to attain interworking levels of visual and emotional meaning, allowing humor to dominate only one of those levels.

Happily, though, this show marks a major step forward for Raysse. His previous work, shown in Europe and New York, was involved with environments of brightly colored and decorated beach toys and assemblages of shiny new medicine cabinet merchandise (some of which are included in the present show). These were all concerned primarily with satiric content—Dada, but without the ironic sting. The new work, though, begins to show a hesitant interest in developing visual problems beyond the social content. Raysse, in some of these pictures, plays with paint, creating surface effects that have their own inherent interest and crops his photographs in order to control the picture plane. The effect is still too slick and easy, but the hope is raised that he will be able to go beyond the basic joke to an art that is more intrinsically valid.

Don Factor