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30 Jan 2020

With Pleasure: Pattern and Decoration in American Art 1972-1985

Museum of Contemporary Art

Reviewed by Dana Gordon

Pattern and Decoration coalesced in New York in the 1970s, providing a timely antidote to the dour rigor of minimalism and conceptual art. Some of it was expressly feminist. In this show it leans toward painting in controlled abstraction or loose figuration, and includes sculpture. The exhibition is large and uneven, but there are many beautiful works in it, not all usually associated with P&D.

Dee Shapiro's intricate, painterly tondo is grave here. Valerie Jaudon is classically strict with rich austerity. Lucas Samaras gives us harsh, playful, edgy dynamism. Uncharacteristic works by Al Loving (loosely hanging) and Sam Gilliam (rigid and on the wall) appear adjacent.

A soulful X-grid in reds by Arlene Slavin and an abstract calligraphic message by the great, under-recognized William T. Williams are memorable. Hanging in air is a cylindrical canvas torture chamber by Alan Shields. Inventive form and color in a curtain-like form by Judy Pfaff knock out an aggressive, undistinguished Frank Stella next to it.

Exhibition With Pleasure: Pattern and Decoration in American Art 1972-1985 link
Start date 27 Oct 2019
End date 18 May 2020
Presenter Museum of Contemporary Art link
Venue 250 South Grand Avenue, Los Angeles, CA, USA map
Image Valerie Jaudon, Mineral Wells, 1980, oil on canvas, 120 x 108 inches, collection of Thomas Solomon and Kimberly Mascola, courtesy of the Museum of Contemporary Art
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