New York

Vernon Fisher

Charles Cowles Gallery

It may look funny but in fact it’s far from it. Vernon Fisher’s oblique 2002–2003 homage to David’s Death of Marat, 1793, is an ingenious take on art’s tragic postmodern condition: a fragment of wood bearing a dismal Romantic skyscape, bracketed by black wall-mounted parentheses (and thus “under suspension,” as Edmund Husserl might say, but not “under erasure,” à la Derrida), and accompanied by a kitschy cutout illustration of a toppled paint can and spilled black paint that nods to the death of painting. An American Tragedy, 2005, which incorporates a still of Shelley Winters about to fall from a boat rowed by Montgomery Clift in A Place in the Sun (1951), a film based on Theodore Dreiser’s story of upward mobility, contributes to the mood of impending doom pervading this show of recent paintings.

Waterborne disaster is everywhere in Fisher’s paintings: Hope and Glory, 2005, depicts a

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