new-york

Moira Dryer, The Signature Painting, 1987, casein on wood; top: 48 x 63“, bottom: 10 x 60”.

Moira Dryer

Eleven Rivington

Moira Dryer, The Signature Painting, 1987, casein on wood; top: 48 x 63“, bottom: 10 x 60”.

When a cherished artist dies young—and Moira Dryer died at the age of thirty-four, in 1992, after a five-year struggle with cancer—it is unsurprising if the writing on her verges on hagiography. Everyone who met Dryer seems to have admired both her painting and the artist herself, and if there was anyone who didn’t, he apparently kept his opinions to himself. This recent exhibition, then—the first New York show of Dryer’s art in nearly twenty years—seemed to me something to be approached both eagerly and a little warily. The sadness of her early death could not but add its own color to the work, making the warmth of the response to the show predictable to the point of inevitability; I myself went in wanting to like it, remembering how the work had impressed me in the late 1980s. The desire to be delighted often misleads, but in this case, my only problem with

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