Los Angeles

Tom Allen

Richard Telles Fine Art

At first glance, Tom Allen’s paintings are almost too familiar—countless Romantic revivals and the continual return of representation have prepared us for these pseudo-Germanic pictures. Even as the artist hones his technique from one show to the next, a tendency to flaunt “bad taste,” or the kitsch factor, is still in evidence. But look more closely: This is neither another parody of Caspar David nor an homage.

First, Allen’s resurrection is accomplished in a manner that might be termed site-specific: His proximity to the Hollywood dream machine and Disneyland makes all the difference. In addition, the prewar exodus of the German intelligentsia to the Hollywood Hills, as recounted in Laurence A. Rickels’s The Case of California, provides another vital cultural link. This relocation is no doubt partly the cause of the tropical/lurid, smog-enhanced skylines that Allen opposes, in such works

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