New York

Jim Shaw

Metro Pictures

Jim Shaw’s show entitled “Thrift Store Paintings” was an iconoclast’s Cuba Libre—a salon-style exhibition of some 200 works by backyard truants, Sunday painters, and assorted others walking the unpaved byways of art. Some of these pictures were bonkers (surreal, softcore, or surfer-psychedelic)—raw material, in short, for Shaw’s own technically polished, neo-adolescent paintings. The connection between these thrift store paintings and the consciously amateurish style of many early-’80s Metro Pictures artists—John Miller’s trashcan-school cityscapes, for example, or Walter Robinson’s most sincere honey jars and pussycats—seemed poetic justice of a sort.

The show encompassed a wide range of abilities, degrees of sophistication, intentions, and signature-sizes. There is no real reason to condescend to these objects, and yet, while much has been made of the deadpan-descriptive titles Shaw gives

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