Robert Overby, What Else is Important, 1981, oil on canvas, 22 1/2 x 18".

Robert Overby

Fredericks & Freiser/Andrew Kreps Gallery

Robert Overby, What Else is Important, 1981, oil on canvas, 22 1/2 x 18".

Though lacking the letters patent conferred upon the original Ferus Gallery crowd, Robert Overby—who began as a notable graphic designer—has entered the West Coast canon, if rather circuitously. Overby’s late paintings, which date to the last fifteen years of a short life (he died of Hodgkin’s disease in 1993 at the age of 58), are hardly the most original of his works, but they fill in a critical chapter with regard to his growing posthumous rank.

In “Painting from the ’80s”—an exhibition staged by Fredericks & Freiser and Andrew Kreps—Overby’s sense of composition (“layout” is really closer to what I mean) countered collage-derived images lifted from popular culture (at times reduced to the Benday dots of mechanical printing) against severed heads or fetishized excisions (eyes, mouths) or geometric shapes (patterns, targets, and circles). Though an agreeable

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