Los Angeles

Gracie DeVito, Machiavelli Heart Break, 2019, oil on cotton, 15 1⁄2 × 14 1⁄4".

Gracie DeVito, Machiavelli Heart Break, 2019, oil on cotton, 15 1⁄2 × 14 1⁄4".

Gracie DeVito

Overduin & Co.

A long time ago, I saw a video of Gracie DeVito worming out of a hole in a wall. The act was simple, and even under the aegis of performance art (it was a gallery wall), it made the crossed-armed spectators break into smiles and giggles. I had yet to become a performer myself and failed at the time to fully appreciate how much of a feat simplicity can be.

Paintings can be experienced as performances. Critics have an impulse to slow them down to dissect their operations, but if we’d just let them happen once in a while, we might better understand what they do. The art historian Michael Baxandall felt that it was impossible to describe a painting, that in interpreting a work one could only convey feelings about actions that had taken place in the past. His belief suggests that our insistence on meaning undercuts the incisiveness of delight. And the dozen dreamy paintings in DeVito’s “Motion

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