new-york

Martin Wong

Exit Art

So often have the discarded, lowly, kitsch, and despised artifacts of our daily lives been dredged up by artists to shock, disturb, amuse, or contradict our sensibilities that it’s easy to forget a rarer spirit of esthetic and political passion that is wholly unlike the prominent strategies of camp, transgressive, or political art. In the flood of media-fried pop, politicized urban expression, and confrontational excess that was rapidly consumed in New York at the outset of this decade under the moniker of East Village art, it was maybe inevitable that the delicacies of a few artists, such as Martin Wong, would be lost. There is in Wong’s paintings a level of vaguely discernible ambiguity that lends his work quite readily to misunderstanding. Laced internally with a pathology of sensual ambivalence, his obsessively rendered studies of real-life characters and places are secret vehicles of

Sign-in to keep reading

Artforum print subscribers have full access to this article. If you are a subscriber, sign in below.

Not registered for artforum.com? Register here.

SUBSCRIBE NOW for only $50 a year—65% off the newsstand price—and get the print magazine plus full online access to this issue and our archive.*

Order the PRINT EDITION of the March 1989 issue for $17 or the ONLINE EDITION for $5.99.

* This rate applies to U.S. domestic subscriptions.