Luis Camnitzer: The Mediocrity of Beauty

19 February – 28 March 2015, Alexander Gray Associates, New York

By Jonathan T.D. Neil

Please Look Away, 2015, adhesive vinyl, dimensions variable. © 2015 the artist / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Courtesy Alexander Gray Associates, New York

What keeps the work of art from becoming didactic, that bitter put-down? (We’re meant to learn from art, yes, but we’re not meant to know it’s teaching us.) Luis Camnitzer’s answer would likely be ‘elegance’. For more than 40 years Camnitzer’s work has escaped the fate of what we could call the ‘teacherly’ by courting simplicity and economies of means in works that range from the archly self-reflexive (note the artist’s ‘self-portraits’, one executed each year for five years between…

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