Target Practice

SAM’s big summer show is awfully specific about its themes and dates: Target Practice: Painting Under Attack 1949-78. After the Abstract Expressionists got done gobbing on the paint, a new generation began scraping it off and, ultimately, probing through the picture frame. With nine galleries organized by concept (thanks to curator Michael Darling), we see the canvass variously perforated, blasted with gunfire, flipped over to reveal the wooden frame, described instead of painted, rolled up and knotted, or left on the floor for you to walk on (that last piece by Yoko Ono). In today’s art-speak, you’d call it deconstruction. Representation, or the apparatus of traditional representation, is being represented. We’re being asked to look past, look through the picture surface—into history and theory, in some cases. Thus Robert Rauchenberg’s famous Erased de Kooning Drawing, which is just that. Or Roy Lichtenstein’s Red Paining (Brushstroke), rendered not with brushes but his signature Ben-day dots. Jasper Johns’ iconic Target paintings provide the curatorial premise for the large postwar survey: Our eyes are being directed along vectors, aimed like bullets at the picture plane. Looking isn’t quite the same as assault—more like dissection. (Closed Mon.) BRIAN MILLER

Tuesdays-Sundays, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Starts: June 25. Continues through Sept. 6, 2009

 
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