Michel François

Curt Marcus Gallery

At first glance, Michel François’ recent exhibition resembled the playroom of an affluent child blessed with an unusual collection of oversized toys. Shiny objects hung from the ceiling, and cushiony surfaces were spread along the ground. Large video monitors sat on the floor in both rooms of the gallery space, while two gigantic, almost Oldenbergian spoons leaned against a wall. Yet if the show as a whole initially seemed to offer a kind of youthful, if precious, fun, on closer inspection the works that comprised it circumscribed the limits of play. Just as an overprotective parent reins in a destructive child, the pieces seemed to issue a warning: look, but don’t touch; sit at the table of art, but don’t eat.

The video loop Frigolith (Styrofoam, 1995), perhaps the show’s most effective piece, was emblematic of the entire installation’s restrained, self-conscious play. Here Styrofoam balls

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