Paintings from the 60s and 70s
1 November to 21 December 2013
On 1 November 2013, Mary Boone Gallery will open at its Fifth Avenue location an exhibition Paintings from the 60s and 70s by PETER SAUL.
After living in Europe in the late 1950s and early 1960s, Peter Saul returned to America in 1964 with an already accomplished painting style. As an expatriate, he had expressed a determination to portray American culture, synthesizing the rapid gestures and painterly chance of Abstract Expressionism with the commonplace and recognizable subject matter of Pop Art. But the emotional reserve that would come to define Pop was never right for Saul. Then, as now, his work celebrated the lurid, the tasteless, the violent, the political — with a heavy gloss of absurdist humor.
The exhibition begins with a 1963 Icebox painting, a subject that has been used by Saul throughout his over fifty-year practice as a repository for canned goods, weapons, furniture, and body parts. The paintings propose a surreal and undecipherable narrative, flouting our material lust and psychic preoccupations while exposing the intricate maze of Saul’s imagination.
More specific in their comic savagery are Man in Electric Chair (1964), Woman Being Murdered (1964), and Donald Duck Crucifixion (1965). Saul confronts our fascination with these heinous acts while upending them in a whirl of bright color, patterned background, ad-libbed phrases, and figural grotesquerie. Real world events become fodder for pointed political works like Vietnam (1966), where abundant atrocities are offset by increasingly psychedelic hues and fluid lines.
Now accepting his role as a painter of history, Saul allowed himself to interpret events of the past — at times through the depictions of Old Masters. His Nightwatch (1974- 1975) is a caricature in neon colors of Rembrandt’s dignified guardsmen, while Napoleon Crossing the Alps (1976-1977) turns Jacques-Louis David’s idealized hero into a pistolhappy narcissist.
The exhibition, at 745 Fifth Avenue, will remain on view through 21 December 2013. For further information, please contact Ron Warren at the Gallery, or visit our website www.maryboonegallery.com.