houston

“American Still Life 1945–1983”

Contemporary Arts Museum Houston

At its simplest the genre of still life focuses on common objects within controlled settings. Any serious survey, however, will reveal a surprising diversity of intentions even when confined to still life in American art of the last four decades, as is this exhibition, organized by Linda Cathcart. These parameters also permit a decentered examination of issues that have preoccupied artists, critics, and others since World War II.

The implicit objective of “American Still Life 1945–1983” may well be less analytic or theoretical. Perhaps the presentational character of the exhibition can be best summarized as a display, in Cathcart’s own gravid phrase, of “individuality within a tradition.” The selection is broad and, in large, excellent. Cathcart has fairly distributed her choices (104 works, 67 artists) across a spectrum which ranges in subjective density from Ed Baynard’s unabashed

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