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Extra Ordinary
The New York Times, Friday, June 9th, 2000
Art in Review/ Ken Johnson/ page E29

List of artists included: FRANCIS CAPE, VIJA CELMINS, MICHAEL COMBS, ELIZABETH CRAWFORD, FISCHLI & WEISS, CEAL FLOYER, TOM FRIEDMAN, ROBERT GOBER, EBERHARD HAVEKOST, JEFF KOONS, RON MUECK, ROXY PAINE, GERHARD RICHTER AND FRANZ WEST

Some of today's most interesting artists continue to fulfill one of art's oldest assignments: to defamiliarize the familiar. This excellent group exhibition presents a variety of ways of getting the job done.

One is mimesis, and few artists mimic reality to more riveting effect than Ron Mueck, the British sculpture whose "Dead Dad" was one of the hits of last year's "Sensation" exhibition. Here Mr. Mueck offers a portrait of an ordinary, fully dressed elderly woman sitting with elbows on her knees and gazing pensively through red-rimmed eyes. Made at a scale somewhere between half and life-size, she has an almost hallucinatory presence. Other marvels of mimesis include an actual-size ladybug by Tom Friedman, a field of delicate red mushrooms by Roxy Pain and a lovingly carved and painted dead duck by Michael Combs.

In another category are artists who replicate ordinary things but with a slightly surrealistic twist. An example is Robert Gober, who in a 1989 work folded a reconstruction of an old wooden door into a curious box configuration. Another is Francis Cape, whose unopenable corner cabinet hovers uncannily between antique reproduction and Minimalism.

Painting, of course, is a time-honored approach to the mundane. The show includes a velvety starry sky by Vija Celmins, a mysterious door by Gerhard Richter and small-scale, nicely made pictures of ketchup and cantaloupes by Elizabeth Crawford.

Finally, there are the appropriators, like Jeff Koons, who in a work from the 1980's reveals the space-age glamour of three Hoover floor polishers. And the versatile Mr. Friedman presents a glowing white fountain-like form made from hundreds of ordinary plastic drinking straws.


Michael Combs  |  New York, NY  |  info@combssculpture.com
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