New York

Vivian Browne, Little Men #70, ca. 1967, acrylic on paper, 23 3⁄4 × 17 3⁄4". From the series “Little Men,” 1966–72.

Vivian Browne

RYAN LEE

The masculinity emanating from “Little Men,” 1966–72, a series of paintings by the artist Vivian Browne (1929–1993), is unequivocally toxic. In this exhibition at Ryan Lee Gallery, her subjects—a particularly vicious strain of businessman—stagger, shriek, and contort. They’re also white, and Browne, a supreme colorist, has availed herself of Caucasian flesh’s myriad hideous possibilities: ruddy pinks, contusive purples, jaundiced yellows, pallid grays, and a now-familiar tangerine hue. Whether these overweening barons of industry are in the throes of sexual ecstasy or death was hard to tell. The reeling grotesques of Browne’s epic Seven Deadly Sins, ca. 1968, swill liquor, suck on their own extremities, and scream like Francis Bacon’s popes. The uneasy duo in Wall Street Jump, 1969, appeared hoofed, Minotaurish. Several of these tiny balding bastards threaten, through their wrath, to

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