I have admired Richard Artschwager’s work for a long time. A few years ago I wrote an extensive piece on his drawings, so my admiration is not something I’ve kept to myself. Yet this exhibition, which focused on a number of his well-known early pieces, bothered me deeply. There was something all too cunning about the show’s timing and focus, and something disturbing about the slick, airless, and textless catalogue. The only point it documented was in which major collections the strongest pieces now resided.
The point of this exhibition was not simply to show us examples of Artschwager’s early work, but to suggest that they anticipate the neo-geo style, and such artists as Meyer Vaisman and Jeff Koons. By stressing Artschwager’s pivotal influence and historical importance, the show validated both his and the younger artists’ work. The subtext of this validation being: if you’re not useful
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