los-angeles

View of “Painting,” 2012–13.

“Painting”

The Box

View of “Painting,” 2012–13.

Kudos to the director of the Box, Mara McCarthy, who, with this timely group show, wrested the discipline from cliché. Featuring the work of eleven artists from the early 1950s to the present, “Painting” considered its titular subject not just as material but also as designation and as act, sometimes all at once. This held no less true of the earliest work in the show, Wally Hedrick’s folksy-seditious pre-Johns representation of the American flag with the antiwar message peace scrawled across its stripes (Peace, 1953), than of the most recent, Paul McCarthy’s Foam Pallet, 2012, a shit-colored, barnacle-like encrustation overtaking its support. Hung above Barbara T. Smith’s Day-Glo Cotton Balls, 1964, a homespun Op checkerboard grid of the medicine-counter staple saturated with hot pink and orange paint, McCarthy’s contribution cast a fitfully perverse light on even the most

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