Contributed by Sharon Butler / Laura Owens�s mid-career survey�at the Whitney Museum�features more than�60 paintings, many large-scale and hung salon-style, from the mid-1990s until today. The�work is all over the map, but Owens�s�primary interest lies in�fusing�craft, doodling, sentimental greeting card and children�s book illustration, narrative, pop culture, and digital prints�into a big happy mess.�In the press release, the curator notes that the Whitney�has “a longstanding commitment to Owens, who has been featured in two Biennials, and is significantly represented in the Museum�s collection.� That may be so, but Owens’s�madcap approach�strikes�me as out of touch for these brooding times — the�political situation is simply too mortifying for me to appreciate so much fun. Other�artists tell me they’re glad to see such�a lively show because it�takes their minds off the�terrifying juggernaut known as the Republican Party. Don�t miss the�essay her mother wrote for the catalogue/artist�s book that was�produced in conjunction with the exhibition. It’s priceless.
A long-time �Owens fan, Roberta Smith says:
Ms. Owens loves painting but she�approaches it�with a rare combination of sincerity and irony. Distinguished by a sly, comedic beauty, her work has a playful, knowing, almost-Rococo lightness of being in which pleasure, humor, intelligence and a seductive sense of usually high color mingle freely. Her polymorphous way with motifs and materials recalls the German maverick Sigmar Polke; her intense forward propulsion is not unlike Frank Stella�s.
Laura Owens, Untitled, 2015, acrylic, oil, vinyl paint, and silkscreen ink on linen, 108 x 84 inches
�Laura Owens,� organized by Scott Rothkopf and Jessica Man, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY. Through�February�4, 2018.