Thursday, September 28, 2017

Jennifer Packer at the Renaissance Society

These are some of the most luscious, passionate florals I've seen by contemporary artists.

Their beauty is diverse and wanton  - as if the plants want to keep growing - with new and different blossoms - extending beyond the boundaries of the frame

But what's even more surprising is where they are now being shown: The Renaissance Society gallery on the campus of the University of Chicago.  It has been a showplace for avant garde art ever since 1915.

When was the last time a traditionally beautiful and observational floral painting was hung there ?


Perhaps we might call this the Kerry James Marshall effect.

KJM is the painter who made history and American Scene painting acceptable in the world of academic contemporary art.

Why did he succeed ?

Because he's very good at it --- and just as importantly---- he's telling the story about "Black Lives Matter"


Of course... one might ask  how these flowers have anything more to do with African Americans than with Americans of Polish, Italian, or  Scandinavian backgrounds.

So I'm not sure that Packer would have gotten this show -- unless she also painted portraits of Black people.

Her figure painting is less satisfying for me.  They seem more like story illustrations than like paintings.

They seem to belong on the cover of a novel - the kind that  tells a sad story of people who feel trapped in their lives.


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