New York

Irving Petlin

Kent Fine Art

It’s quite apparent to me that there is a deep rift in American art that remains largely unacknowledged. On one side are the artists who have chosen to assimilate into the mainstream, while the other side consists of those who refuse to accept the dominant esthetic attitudes and underlying restrictions. Irving Petlin’s refusal to assimilate into the mainstream amounts to a moral decision. He is, after all, a Jew who remembers that all attempts at assimilation have either been doomed or demanded a denial of Jewish culture and history.

Since he first began exhibiting in the mid ’50s, Petlin has addressed a broad range of subjects connected with history, including memory, social inequalities, the possibility of redemption, the individual’s relationship to culture, how the past inscribes itself on the present, and narrative as a vessel in which a vision of the past is handed on to the future.

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