Los Angeles

Lari Pittman

Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA)

Two themes dominated this mid-career survey of Lari Pittman’s painting: one was sexual politics, the other, more surprisingly, was Pittman’s Americanism. Opening shortly before the July 4 weekend, the show felt like a collision between a fireworks display and a gay-pride parade. Along with the ample breasts and parted butt cheeks, the gaping sphincters and vaginas, the little fleur-de-lis erections and the teardrops of cum scattered across this 13-years-worth of paintings, there also appeared picket fences, pilgrims in tall buckled hats, praying hands beside parted books, and quotes from the Constitution and the Gettysburg Address. “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness,” calls out a painting from 1985, to which another from 1995 responds, “Go Girl!”

Pittman offers this Queer American Dream earnestly, his apple-pie symbolism, though retaining a hint of menace,adopted nonetheless as an

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