View of “Peter Young,” 2013. Foreground: #1–1990. Background: #5–1996 (detail).

Peter Young

Museum of Contemporary Art, Tucson

View of “Peter Young,” 2013. Foreground: #1–1990. Background: #5–1996 (detail).

Peter Young is often spoken of as a neglected artist, having fallen into obscurity after he abandoned New York and the art world in 1969, at the zenith of his renown, to wander the world, commune with Indian tribes, paint on canvases stretched over pine branches, and settle, two years later, in the ersatz mining town of Bisbee, Arizona. But Young, decided to recede from view and fixed the terms of his own neglect. An explanation can be found in the title of this survey, “Capitalist Masterpieces.” After selling one of his whorling-dot paintings to New York’s Whitney Museum of American Art, he deviously replaced its numbered title with Capitalist Masterpiece—a good joke, but also a wry recognition that his searching paintings were bound to be commodified once the acrylic had hardened, once they had been extricated from the artist’s Bowery studio.

In recent years, the narrative

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