new-york

Michael Byron

Luhring Augustine | Chelsea

“Charming” is not a word I usually associate with art that I like or respect. But “charming” is the best word I can think of to describe Michael Byron’s recent exhibition, entitled “The Faust Cycle.” The five works in this show, paintings incorporating sculptural elements, comprise tableaux based on the legend of Faust. Byron claims to have been inspired by Goethe’s properly serious Faust, but he seems to have been influenced to a greater extent by the cheesy 1967 film version of the story starring Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. He renders the Faust legend as a cross between a sitcom and a medieval puppet show. His tone is that of a screaming sideshow barker telling a haunting story for the hundredth time. Byron takes enormous liberties, mixing strains of operatic melodrama with various icons of popular culture, and giving the well-known story surprising twists.

My favorite work in

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