New York

Carl Ostendarp

Jay Gorney Modern Art

With his unapologetically dumb Miracle Whip–Modernism paintings of the late ’80s, Carl Ostendarp achieved a welcome levity. Rudely digesting the delicate chromatic resonances of Color Field painting, Ostendarp spun out something resembling a mutant meringue flattened into the basic shape of a canvas. Imagine a debased Robert Ryman, smothered with ridiculous excesses of lather, and you’ve got the basic picture. Recently, however, evidence of a more sober method has surfaced: an increased emphasis on a more delicate manipulation of materials, and a stricter regulation of tonal range. In other words, a more self-conscious, and for that reason somewhat irritating, even strained “sophistication” has slowly insinuated itself. The delicious funkiness and quirky ribaldry of those early efforts has begun to be displaced by something more on the order of visual Muzak.

In the early ’90s, Ostendarp

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