A room closed off by a curtain, matte indigo walls, a floor of soft apricot wall-to-wall carpeting on which visitors had to walk with protective coverings over their shoes, one sculpture hanging on the wall, two others in the space: It seemed that we were no longer in a gallery but in a white room that had undergone a careful makeover, evoking the beauty products that were the subject of George Henry Longly’s earlier marble plaques. The works in this show, “The Smile of a Snake,” functioned as architectural maquillage rather than as aesthetically autonomous objects. In the past, the artist has exhibited his sculptures in vitrines like those you might see in a natural science museum. This time, it was the exhibition itself that was enclosed within a large, colorful display case. But the institutional context of the gallery remained a central concern.
Was this an attempt to reinvent
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