New York

Philip Pearlstein

Robert Miller Gallery

AFTER ALMOST FORTY YEARS, we can presume to know Philip Pearlstein's art pretty well, and at first this selection of paintings seemed to fit snugly in the “more of the same” category. All the hallmarks of his wafer-dry style were in place—the axial, overlit limbs, the narcoleptic tristesse, the corny props. So it was easy to miss this show, which is to say, to see only an acknowledged master plugging away in his established idiom. Pearlstein himself, a taciturn gradualist, certainly wasn't going to advertise any changes.

But they were there. To begin with, this exhibition marked the first time the props seized the limelight. In retrospect, they've been encroaching since the '70s, when the original set of passive supports (rugs, chairs, hammocks) began to give way to an ever-gaudier array of furniture and kimonos. By 1995, the models were posed amid an incongruous menagerie of collectibles:

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