New York

Richard Artschwager

Mary Boone Gallery | Chelsea

It’s a wonderful idea: take a seemingly mundane, nondescript subject—potatoes—and treat it in a grand formal manner. The potato is, of course, a proverbial staple of life—one only has to think of the Irish potato famine—as well as a symbol of shit. Richard Artschwager’s genius in these paintings is to mine such imagery while formally treating potatoes as a collection of so many eccentrically textured shapes. After all, the potato is as likely a module as Carl Andre’s Hartford boulders, and while Artschwager’s spuds aren’t arranged in neat rows, the effect is the same—an (unwitting?) satire of the early Minimalist premise that any old material could make artistic (or quasi-artistic) sense, depending on its “phenomenological” display.

Artschwager seems at once to affirm and deny that such display makes us acutely aware of the innocent sensuousness and “strategic” givenness of mundane

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