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david ebony's top ten

ellen k. levy at associated american artists

Framing Nature 2

Housing Nature (Agassiz Upended)
   In her new paintings, New York artist Ellen K. Levy addresses questions of the museum and what might be called the science of display. Like Dr. Wilson's Cabinet of Wonder, the museum Levy renders might be a natural history or anthropology collection, but one in the midst of an explosion. In each work, the twisted beams of the structure interlace with the exhibits themselves. Fantastical animal and plant specimens seem to have burst out of their cases, wandering out into the infinite space of the painting. Levy has a background in math and science, and has long produced paintings that address questions of technology. In the recent past her work has dealt with architecture. She created some unforgettable images of buildings destroyed by the forces of nature.

Framing Nature 2 shows an elaborately twisted girder that snakes around the edges of the canvas. The beam seems to be falling, perhaps to free encased birds on the right and what look like fenced in deer on the left. Housing Nature (Agassiz Upended) shows the dramatically twisted wreckage of the museum structure encompassing several animals and even an upside down figure -- Levy's tongue-in-cheek ode to Baselitz. This reference reminds one that on some level, Levy's paintings are always about painting, and that the works in this exhibition are about the mechanics of exhibition.

Ellen K. Levy at Associated American Artists, 20 W 57, NY NY 10019 (Jan. 8-Feb. 7, 1998).

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