New York

John Latham


If you live in the United States, John Latham may be the most important artist whose work you’ve never seen. In the ’50s, he became the first Brit to put spray paint to canvas, an innovative response to American action painting and European Pop. He was prominent in the influential Destruction in Art Symposium in London in 1966. And it was Latham who, that same year, borrowed Clement Greenberg’s Art and Culture from the library at St. Martin’s School of Art and served it to a few delighted students for dinner. Returning the masticated pulp to the library got him fi red, but later earned him a place in MoMA’s collection and the reverence of young artists. As this posthumous overview of Latham’s work suggests, however, these moments are mere anecdotal blips in a lifetime spent trying to express a “unified theory of existence” through art.

Latham was eccentric, to say the least, a fact that even

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