Continuing through October 17, 2010
Taking for his subject the obituaries published in a major art magazine's Annual Guide, Patrick McFarlin reproduces the obits and in so doing, allows us to reconsider the lives and works of these so-called masters. That McFarlin calls his well-executed tributes "mini" masterpieces, further subverting the whole "great artist" theme. If you get your name into Art in America after you die, is that true success? Or does the magazine rightfully acknowledge, complete with artists' photographs and the obligatory approbation expressed in text, the lives that - in many cases - helped make the publication tick? McFarlin chooses familiar names to further his case: These are the anointed ones whom we continue to chase through major exhibitions, biographies, and the stuff of legend.
The diptychs and triptychs that function as obituary-plus-examples of the artwork are the most successful part of the show. Without these mini "isms" alongside their creators' black-and-white portraits and roughed-in text, the show is merely a lineup of talented people who happen to be recently deceased. Presented this way however, "Bacon - Self Portrait" looks out with greater vulnerability, and the copy of a portrait of a seated figure becomes more nuanced in the immediate presence of death - a neat trick with a subject whose whole being could be said to have courted Thanatos.