Yesterday Michael H. Miller from GalleristNY was clicking through the New Museum’s recently expanded digital archive and found images from “Bad Painting,” a 1978 exhibition that included work by James Albertson,Joan Brown, Eduardo Carrillo, James Chatelain, William Copley, Charles Garabedian, Robert Chambless Hendon,Joseph Hilton, Neil Jenney, Judith Linhares, P. Walter Siler, Earl Staley, Shari Urquhart, and William Wegman.
According to the original press materials, the exhibition focuses on work that “raises several controversial issues about the nature and use of imagery
in recent American art. The artists whose work will be shown have
discarded classical drawing modes in order to present a humorous, often
sardonic, intensely personal view of the world…”
Miller concludes in his post that “it’s nice to see an exhibition where the bad paintings are ironic rather than just, you know, actually bad.” Rather than ending his piece with a gratuitous swipe at contemporary painting, perhaps he should have offered some specific examples, because the changing nature of what we consider bad painting is a fascinating subject for a good discussion. If these paintings, which generally tend to mash-up surrealism and humorous fantasy imagery, were considered “bad” in the 1970s, what would be considered “bad” today?
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