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Laura Owens, Untitled, 1998, acrylic and oil on canvas, 84 x 96".

Laura Owens

New Museum

There are some very good paintings in MoCA’s Laura Owens survey—particularly the large decorative landscapes painted between 1999 and 2002 that borrow from Chinese scroll and screen painting, the rococo pastorals of Beauvais tapestries, and the peaceable critterdom of children’s-book illustration. Notable in their absence, though, are a couple of the artist’s very strong early works that take pluralism in the museum and a modest and collaborative approach to painting as their relatively explicit subject. It’s a way of working that continues to inform Owens’s output and that has been an especially important model for a number of younger painters.

In his catalogue essay, curator Paul Schimmel takes one of those missing paintings, dated 1995, as an emblem for Owens’s relationship to her sources and to painting’s history. In it, a sloping beige floor rises to a narrow strip of museum wall,

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