New York

Richard Artschwager

Whitney Museum of American Art; Leo Castelli

In 1912, for the first time in modern painting, an artist simulated the textures of veined marble and wood grain. The artist was Georges Braque, who had been trained as a painter-decorator. Ever since, artists of many persuasions have used this “crafty” method of generating perceptual and conceptual paradox. Richard Artschwager, who was apprenticed to a cabinetmaker and produced furniture for a living in the ’50s, has also made simulated marble and woodgrain works, thus broadly locating himself in the Cubist tradition. Artschwager, however, has carried the method to a fresh extreme, generating a new absurdist art.

What in Braque was a way of contriving a material illusion, in Artschwager is a case of applied abstraction. He uses Formica and Celotex to subvert the reality they articulate and to disable it beyond repair. Increasingly today, the world seems to be experienced more through the

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