new-york

Matthew Day Jackson

Peter Blum SoHo

Matthew Day Jackson aims high: life, death, presence, absence, the A-bomb. Like Damien Hirst or Jeff Koons, he’s a go-for-the-glory kind of artist, less interested in gray subtleties than in absolutes, extremes, and what literary critics used to call “the great tradition,” the canon-building heights of art’s capacities. Where his contemporaries, in dealing with history, might lean toward Foucauldian deconstruction or the view from below, Jackson tends to opt for big events: Hiroshima, the moon landing, the death of Philippe Pot (a pretty big event, apparently, in Renaissance France). In dealing with current experience, he goes in for drag racing, which, in Chariot II—I Like America and America Likes Me, 2008–10, he dares to set level with religion by outfitting a Corvette with a stained glass window. The car gets electrical power from solar panels, which might seem to nudge its gratuitous

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