Why Pictures Now — Louise Lawler at MoMA

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Photographer Louise Lawler has her first NY museum retrospective, at MoMA currently. The exhibit is up through the end of July, so you have time to see this wryly witty show. The retrospective is entitled “Why Pictures Now” (which is also one of the smallest photographs in the exhibit), and references Lawler’s role as one of the artists of “the Pictures Generation” in the late ’70s. A large-scale “adjusted to fit” piece at the gallery entry, which juxtaposes an unassembled Maurizio Cattelan’s Picasso head in front of a classical headless statue in Europe, ushers the viewer into Lawler’s world of looking at art — and portraying it ironically and perhaps cynically: is that really a wall-plaque featured as part of the art? We also liked the concept of “adjust to fit” art, and as Lawler is alive and well, she was involved in putting this exhibit together and presumably in deciding which pieces would be adjusted and where.

And sometimes, you see the “same” piece multiple times and ways — for example, one Salon scene is not only in a photograph, but also tucked into a paperweight, and again seen in a tracing.

It is a fun exhibit, with a “surely you jest” sense, and the more you know going in, the more you may chuckle.

Ilona Quasha

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