New York

Philip Taaffe

Gagosian Gallery (21)

In a statement accompanying his recent show, Philip Taaffe wrote, want to escape into art." No matter how cloying the sentiment, Taaffe is as good as his word. His well-publicized life at his villa in Naples his self-imposed exile from the daily life of the New York art world suggests an escape in the grand tradition of artistic expatriation. Naples may not be Tangiers or Tahiti, but it isn’t New York either; it evokes at least a touch of the exotic. Taaffe’s incorporation in his work of Neopolitan architectural and decorative styles (a blend of Baroque and Arab influences) suggests not only a flight from the exigencies of contemporary life but an almost Dionysian worship of beauty (not to mention a sentimentalist’s obsession with the traces of history).

History for Taaffe has always existed as a pool of patterns from which to scavenge. His earlier works appropriated exhausted

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