new-york

Jay Heikes

Marianne Boesky Gallery

Richard Prince’s “Joke” paintings remain the gold standard for the use of dark verbal humor in contemporary art, but in the last few years a younger set of artists has expanded on Prince’s turn to the debased language and iconography of comedy. Its themes appear in Sarah Greenberger-Rafferty’s sculptures of splattered pies, in Sanford Biggers’s theatrical resuscitations of “Negro variety shows,” in Kalup Linzy’s tragicomic soap operas, and in Jay Heikes’s bronze casts of canes—essential props for whisking foundering comedians from onstage misery.

At the 2006 Whitney Biennial, Heikes showed the first of a series of installations in which drawings and sculpture are sourced from the same joke—one without a punch line—that begins, “So there’s this parrot. . . .” But jokes aren’t funny without denouement, and with each recycling of the line, Heikes has increasingly suppressed even

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