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Previews: Peter Saul, "Crime and Punishment"

January 2020

Peter Saul Ethel Rosenberg in Electric Chair 1987

Peter Saul, "Ethel Rosenberg in Electric Chair," 1987, Acrylic on paper, 60 x 40 in

Peter Saul: Crime and Punishment

Curated by Massimiliano Gioni and Gary Carrion-Murayari

Peter Saul has been called a painter’s painter. But when I hear that phrase, I think of someone whose work trades in refinement, in nuances likely to be lost on the layman, not an in-your-face provocateur like Saul, whose work art historian Richard Shiff has called “vulgar to such an extreme that it disturbs even the vulgar.”

And yet it’s true: Most painters I know are fascinated by Saul and seem to believe he’s on to some of the art’s inside secrets—which means they suspect, I think, that the essence of painting must be something other than what they’ve been taught. With some sixty works dating from 1960 through to a 2018 Abstract Expressionist Portrait of Donald Trump, this first New York survey of Saul’s work—too wild to be Pop and too overtly political to be Funk—will test this intuition.

— Barry Schwabsky

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