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Stephen DiCillo
Table I, 1994

Stephen DiCillo 
Vase 2, 1995


Stephan DiCillo
Chair 7, 1994

Julie Langsam
LadyBug 2, 1995

Julie Langsam
Dream Girl, 1996

Julie Langsam
Breakfast, Lunch 
& Dinner, 1996

stephen dicillo 
julie langsam 

at clementine gallery,
new york 

by Meghan Dailey

It would be unfair to label Stephen 

DiCillo's paintings of armchairs, tables 

and vases as merely decorative still-

lifes. The artist goes through a formal 

preparatory process, constructing 

miniature replicas of the objects he will 

eventually paint, and documenting them 

with Polaroids. In the final paintings 

themselves, the same vase or chair is 

rendered several times with varying 

patterns of lace or plaid stenciled 

over it, scrim-like. Behind the sheer 

ornamental façades resides an image 

of real space, with shadows and 

unseen light sources that evocatively

model the now scaled-up miniatures 

that practically hover ina fog of 


The works are conceptual exercises in 

repetition and the establishment of an 

obsessive understanding. But is it really 

worth it to engage in such an elaborate 

process, the end of which is limited to 

comments on memory and form? The risk

is one of overdetermination, of devising 

the most intricate means possible to 

arrive at fairly obvious conclusions. Of 

course, this does not mean that the

works are not, in their way, extremely 

lovely and technically accomplished. 

The fabric patterns outline the forms, 

but also conceal them, telling a kind 

of beautiful, visual lie.

Facing DiCillo's work in the gallery are 

Julie Langsam's collages of pictures cut 

from 1950s magazines arranged on wood 

panels. These images of women, food and 

appliances are placed into tableaux of 

clichéd ideas about femininity and 

happiness--woman as homemaker, object 

of desire, dreamer of romantic fantasies 

and so on. 

Langsam's images are redelivered here

as nostalgia, but partake in a common 

cultural psychology that is anything but 

dated. Consumption, then as now, is the 

lingua franca of the American media. 

Langsam knows everything that the 

advertising/cultural machine churns out is 

presented for maximum fetish appeal. 

Appliances become extensions of the body 

that can function as erotic mates; fruit 

cups and chocolate pudding are lovingly 

depicted as icons of comfort and sensual 


Real life will never be as sweet as the 

dream dates and romantic fulfillment 

suggested in works such as Lady Bug 2, 

1995, and Mrs. Greenberg, 1996. 

Continuity of the illusory artifice 

promulgated by these works is maintained 

through Langsam's manipulation of the

collage medium. Through the addition of 

paint she introduces her own presence 

into these "found" images. Exposing the 

wood panel support further belies the 

slickness of the "modern" surfaces and 

interiors depicted. Her panels also suggest 

an element of kitsch; indeed, many of 

Langsam's juxtapositions are humorous. 

In Peas and Carrots, 1996, a roll 

of pink toilet paper unfurls through a 

cascade of peas and swirls around lovers 

in an embrace. Another work shows a 

gigantic skillet of fried eggs next to a 

smiling baby. The savvy use of humor 

should not be mistaken for glibness; 

these works are valid critiques of 

gender stereotypes and nostalgia.

Both artists try to make strong comments 

on the possibilities for perfection, about 

formal hierarchies and decoration. Whether 

or not one finds all of the work entirely 

successful, Langsam and DiCillo approach 

their respective enterprises with a 

thoughtful conviction.

Stephen DiCillo and Julie Langsam at 

Clementine Gallery, Dec. 28, 1996-Jan. 26, 

1997, 526 West 26th Street, New York, 

N.Y., 10001. 

MEGHAN DAILEY is a New York art historian 

and critic.