Michael Scott

Tony Shafrazi Gallery

Over the past near-century, abstraction has come to constitute a tradition, a virtual contemporary academy. The legacy of vanguard intention supplies a luster to the ongoing endeavor, but by and large, abstract painting proceeds quietly, shorn of its combative urgency. Though a new crop of painters is always coming up the ranks to mine this territory for its still appreciable riches, one of the surprise artistic twists of the ’80s has been the rise of a wave of painting that has roused abstraction from its respectable torpor, precisely by pressuring its status as a historical movement. Some commentators dismissed work by painters like Philip Taaffe, Sherrie Levine, and Peter Halley—work that treated Modernism as an archive of “found” styles—as a meaningless neo-ism, a lightning-fast stylistic pendulum-swing wholly symptomatic of the market’s thirst for the pseudo-new. Others argued that

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