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Michael Craig-Martin at Peter Blum
In this exhibition, titled "Common History," the Dublin-born London artist Michael Craig-Martin presented six large, hard-edge, acrylic-on-canvas paintings hung on walls painted in eye-popping day-glo colors and adorned with site-specific murals.
Craig-Martin's source material is modern art history. Throughout the show he repeats several highly stylized motifs: Duchamp's ubiquitous urinal, Fountain; Magritte's equally iconic Pipe; Johns' Beer Cans; and a glass of water, which refers to Craig-Martin's own early, conceptualist work. Titled An Oak Tree, that piece, which gained a lot of attention when it first showed in 1973, consists of a glass of water placed on a shelf along with a typed sheet of paper explaining that the artist had transformed the glass into an oak tree simply by naming it so.
Craig-Martin taught Damien Hirst, Gary Hume, Sarah Lucas, Fiona Rae and other YBAs at Goldsmith's College, London. Though the work here is done in a fairly conventional technique -- like painting on canvas -- it is nevertheless consistently disorienting. Images on the wall and on canvas meld; the murals seem to correspond to the paintings as a kind of rebus, insistent yet lacking certain meaning.
Michael Craig-Martin, "Common History," Nov. 20-Jan. 29, 2000, at Peter Blum, 99 Wooster Street, New York, N.Y. 10012.