new-york

Mark Tansey

Curt Marcus Gallery

Despite some positive advance press, Mark Tansey’s recent show was quite poorly received. How did he become a public enemy? He is producing pretty much the same work now that he has for years. His technique and approach have changed little (too little, perhaps), and if there is anything wrong with them it has been wrong for a while.

When Tansey emerged, though, in the early ’80s, he surfed a pair of incoming tides: the refreshment of painting (and of representational imagemaking in general) and the interest in theory, two strong currents in ’80s art. The combination hit. On the one hand, illustrational though Tansey’s pictures were, painting enthusiasts could enjoy the work’s thin and controlled surfaces and monochromatic palettes for their bracing stringency in the sloppy neo-Expressionist moment. On the other, the work’s textual references and jokes on painting made it available to young

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