new-york

Patty Martori

D'Amelio Gallery

As Pieter Brueghel had his peasants and old Dutch Proverbs, Patty Martori has her cigarettes and modern-day angst. Both depicted simple characters acting out parables of the complexities—humorous, surreal, or plain psychotic—of life. In Brueghel’s paintings, the exact meaning of putting out the broom (to party) or of a woman tying a pillow to the devil (she must be a shrew) may now be obscure, but a man shitting on a globe is still a good way to represent a misanthrope. Martori’s eight tableaux, though more contemporary in theme, may also be hard to figure at first; the scenarios in which her figurines—made of cigarettes wearing doll shoes and other tiny accessories—find themselves seem pretty odd. (Like Laurie Simmons’ photographed tableaux, they resemble smart advertising props, circa 1950, but Martori cites her inspiration in French dioramas of taxidermied, costumed frogs, circa 1700.)

Sign-in to keep reading

Artforum print subscribers have full access to this article. If you are a subscriber, sign in below.

Not registered for artforum.com? Register here.

SUBSCRIBE NOW for only $50 a year—65% off the newsstand price—and get the print magazine plus full online access to this issue and our archive.*

Order the PRINT EDITION of the Summer 1998 issue for $17 or the ONLINE EDITION for $5.99.

* This rate applies to U.S. domestic subscriptions.