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Sean Landers
On the Wall Above
2001



Sean Landers
Genius
(detail)
2001



Sean Landers
War and Peace
2001
(detail of signature)



Christopher Wool
installation view
2001



Christopher Wool
installation view
2001
Bad Art Makes a Comeback
by Charlie Finch


The effort to turn Andrea Rosen Gallery boy toy Sean Landers into a "major artist" collapses under its own feathery weight, despite the presence of a radiant Cecily Brown and her beefy musician boyfriend in the gallery on a recent Saturday afternoon.

Landers was discovered, rather lasciviously by the fellas at Artforum in a notorious 1994 cover story, for which the rag's publisher Tony Korner reportedly overruled editor Jack Bankowsky's desire to display Landers' penis on the cover.

Sliding down this pinnacle ever since, slacker Sean became the poor person's Ashley Bickerton: Writing down the ordinary events of his life on yellow legal pads, putting pullulating monkeys on skates at Rosen's old space, and currently, lamely pastiching Picasso, a kind of Sunday in the Park with Sean, a carnival of painterly stasis.

Substituting low comedy for the earnestness in David Salle's recent Johns-style mélanges, Landers includes a ton of Jasper's own borrowings from Pablo in these hectic, distracted wall-size pieces.

Do you remember Mike Bidlo's 1989 show at Castelli's old Greene Street space? Mike painted dozens of "Picassos" from reproductions in books, then dramatically hung them Salon style.

At the time Peter Schjeldahl called for Bidlo's head in the Village Voice, it was such a disgrace -- the end of art!

Bidlo's effort was a bold, terrific statement on perception, familiarity and reproduction -- compared to Landers' "Picassos," it was the Louvre!

I asked a few yokels at Rosen if they remembered Bidlo's show. No, no and no.

That is the tragedy of trivial, dyspeptic "talent" like Sean Landers. People forget, if they ever knew in the first place, as Landers leaps in.

There is worse painting next door, however, at Luhring Augustine, a gallery which shows the most important, serious contemporary stuff available, by Rist, Morimura, Antoni and others.

Christopher Wool produced a few powerful word pieces a decade ago, highly in demand at auction, and has subsequently created nothing but junk for the last seven years.

People in the gallery were comparing Wool's orange and black gestural abortions, now on view, to Motherwell -- more like crappy Tapiés frappé on a really bad day.

Is money so flowing in Chelsea's streets that the brand name "Christopher Wool" is all that sodden, ugly clumps of paint on a wall require to bag the bucks?

The gallery should do an intervention in Wool's studio to get him refocused, and all of us should reject the "branding" that perpetuates truly bad art, in the name of careerism.


CHARLIE FINCH is co-author of Most Art Sucks: Five Years of Coagula (Smart Art Press).