Ralph Humphrey

Willard Gallery

To people unfamiliar with Ralph Humphrey’s art, his recent paintings may look like instances of the trend toward “dumb” images and crusty surfaces. Those who know his work, however, will recognize that its misreading is one of the sources of the currently fashionable pretense of many painters to robust technical ineptitude.

Humphrey’s recent pictures follow from his previous work with a logic their antic qualities may seem to belie. About a decade ago, he abandoned canvas as a working surface, no longer able to take for granted its viability as a basis for painting. He began constructing his own working surfaces (and continues to) in part to convey the attitude that painting can be convincing now only if it is evidently constructed in every respect. Looking at Humphrey’s work, you understand that to make a painting is to assert something in physical terms. And part of what his paintings

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