The Genetic Wars by Barbara Confino

Everything but the Kitchen Sink
Laura Letinsky
Yours, More Pretty
Photo by Laura Letinsky . Source: yanceyrichardson.com
Laura Letinsky

What if Cubism arose today? It might not open art to a heady future, for Modernism has come and gone and come again, and who knows what lies in store? In fact, it might first and foremost be looking back. It would look back to classic still life, in the space of a breakfast room or a kitchen table. It would evoke not just vision, but the textures, sounds, and scents of the past. It would recall how the mind and the senses reconceive past, present, and art.

It would give new meaning to T. S. Eliot's "mixing memory and desire." It would make use of collage, as an act not just of making, but also of appropriation, because everyone these days appropriates. It would borrow images from both fine art and popular culture, not to mention newspapers and advertising. It would fragment the reality it describes, to the point that one no longer knows what is an appropriation and what is perception. It would set aside grand narratives in favor of common objects, while never letting one forget that they are art. And then it would watch as objects and perceptions slip away.

Photo by Laura Letinsky . Source: yanceyrichardson.com
Laura Letinsky, "Untitled #57, from the series Ill Form & Void Full," 2014

It would do all that because Postmodernism and contemporaries cannot get enough of buzz words like appropriation, pop culture, critique, and self-reference – and because Pablo Picasso, George Braque, Juan Gris, and Cubism were there all along. Still, it would look different now, maybe a bit like Laura Letinsky. Like early Modernism, Letinsky dwells on still-life and perception, but with a cooler beauty. Her photographs leave the shredding and pasting to the set-up stage, for added distance and sheen. She calls the show "Yours, More Pretty," because the sources of desire these days are shinier, too. When Surrealism spoke of "compulsive beauty," it had nothing on a model kitchen or bath.

Letinsky evokes sinks and countertops plainly enough, while daring one to know when they are real. Of course, real here means the reality of advertising, interior design catalogs, or the lush color photography of Jan Groover. She has nothing so obviously tactile as Picasso's guitars or even a wine glass. Her quotations include as sleek an appropriator as Gerhard Richter himself along with Henri Matisse. Even the title of her ongoing series, "Ill Form & Void Full," suggests a cramped self-consciousness suited to today. It is a consciousness of beauty all the same.

Photo by Laura Letinsky . Source: yanceyrichardson.com
Laura Letinsky, "Untitled #51, from the series Ill Form & Void Full" 2014

Letinsky mimes design practice in her craft as well. She adopts the strong lighting of commercial photography and the white background of a professional studio. They create shadows and surfaces to die for. The images add strong accents of color, more scattered across her compositions than pasted together. Go ahead and feel self-conscious or confused. It may keep you from wanting a new kitchen.

Laura Letinsky
Yours, More Pretty


Yancey Richardson Gallery
525 W 22nd St.
Chelsea         Map

646 230 9610
yanceyrichardson.com

Thursday, September 4 to
Saturday, October 18, 2014
Hours: Tue-Sat, 10-6
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