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    David Ebony's Top Ten

Robert Cottingham at Forum
Robert Cottingham is known as one of the first -- and best -- photo realist painters. However, he always stood somewhat apart from the pack and today continues along a unique path, producing some of his most meticulous and eloquent paintings to date. His previous New York exhibition centered on an American Alphabet, a series of images of letters taken from theater marquees and advertising signs. In this recent exhibition, "Still-Lifes," he showed large, striking canvases and works on paper featuring antique cameras and typewriters, which he has produced over the past five years. In developing the series of paintings related to notions of text and image, the artist photographed old, but well-cared for, Royal, Remington and Underwood typewriters, and Brownie Hawkeye, Spartus and Ansco Shur Shot cameras from his collection. But the photos are simply starting points for the compositions which involve a great deal of intuition.

Each object is isolated and centered against a saturated, monochrome background. The 88-by-84 inch Underwood shows a typewriter set against a rich green background like the covering of a pool table. Brownie Hawkeye glows against an eye-popping yellow background. My favorite work on view, Premo 2000, shows a type of bellows camera set against a searing yellow. The camera is highlighted and outlined with a multicolor band that lends the object a kind of prismatic halo. Emblematic of communication, of written and visual language, the images are strong thematically as well as in formal terms.

Robert Cottingham, "Still-Lifes," April 13-May 13, at Forum, 745 Fifth Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10151