The survey show of collage by hot contemporary artists at Gagosianís uptown space is so densely packed with images, expertly scissored colors and general pandemonium that, flushed with sensory overload, one throws away the gallery checklist and experiences the show as one huge installation.
Images jump at the eye without regard to the artist: Barbara Bush in a Red Sox jersey, bug-eyed, throwing a baseball; porn star Stormy taking a load of come from some guy named Anton; multiple images of Paris Hilton sliced and diced with pop colors. Impressions of certain artists flit by: the antiseptic coldness of Josephine Meckseper, the precision with which Richard Prince pastes nudes to paperback book covers, the extraordinary homage of Franz Westís paste-covered posters to the humble spirit of Arte Povera.
One longs to come down from this involuntary acid trip and fix the gaze on something minimal. One or two pieces suffice. Thereís a tiny floating melt of orange and black stripes by Steven Parrino. John Bock provides a delicate beige background to a simple news clipping about Allan Kaprow. Paulina Olowska dots a delicate wall drawing of an elfin girl from anime with a few spare photos.
The one true triumph in the show is a majestic altarpiece by Rita Ackermann, a transparent arc with a tribal motif. The themes of this hallucinatory installation are consistent throughout: hedonism, political anxiety, diversity ground down into an equivalent sameness. It is the world of Dash Snow, whose work is in this show, even though his pieces eluded me. Drop in, tune on, turn in, then go home and make a collage of your own. Itís easy!
"Fit to Print: Printed Media in Recent Collage," Nov. 12, 2007-Jan. 26, 2008, at Gagosian Gallery, 980 Madison Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10075.
CHARLIE FINCH is co-author of Most Art Sucks: Five Years of Coagula (Smart Art Press).