new-york

Albert Oehlen

Luhring Augustine | Chelsea

Every time Albert Oehlen comes to town to show a new body of work—which on this occasion consisted of eight very large oil-on-canvas paintings from 2003—the bellyaching begins. With all the complaints that surface in the New York press you’d think that American audiences had never heard of the historical avant-garde’s strategies of defamiliarization and antiaestheticism, which are now almost a century old. But America has traditionally been defensive about what European artists might be up to behind its back, or worse, out there in front. The prevailing attitude of our conservative times demands that art be instantly intelligible; that we should know exactly where we stand with it and that there is no funny business going on that might end with us playing the fool.

While he has mellowed considerably over the last twenty-five years, Oehlen made a formidable reputation for himself in the ’

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