Lucas Samaras

The first thought that came into my head at the Lucas Samaras exhibition at PaceWildenstein uptown last November was, “Why isn’t he having this retrospective in a New York museum?” After all, the last Gotham-grown one for him was way back in 1972, at the Whitney; the one after that was organized way out in Denver in 1988, and the most recent, in 1991, took place in Japan. Given the conventional appreciation of Samaras as our best dissenting stylistic loner during the heyday of Minimalism, you’d think that someone other than the artist’s gallery—as prestigious as it may be—would have staged this show.

Samaras’ problem may have something to do with the two ways you can regard him (in terms of recent art history, at least) as a singular artist. The more attractive interpretation sees Samaras essentially as an outsider artist, with just enough slickness to attract the attention of Arne Glimcher.

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