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A Painting for Over the Sofa (That's Not Necessarily a Painting)

A Painting for Over the Sofa (That's Not Necessarily a Painting),  2003.

A Painting for Over the Sofa (That's Not Necessarily a Painting), 2003.

This eclectic mixture of nationally recognized artists pokes fun at the idea that artworks are created purely for home decorating purposes. Included in the exhibition are 18 blow-up sofas over which the artworks will be installed. This exhibition has been organized by Bernice Steinbaum Gallery, Miami.

Artists featured in this exhibition:

Mario Algaze, Ida Applebroog, Ken Aptekar, Louise Bourgeois, Edouard Duval-Carrié, Tim Curtis, Rico Gatson, Bruce Helander, Komar & Melamid, Hung Liu, Pepón Osorio, Karen Rifas, Miriam Schapiro, Jaune Quick-to-See Smith, Federico Uribe, Joe Walters, Deborah Willis, and Wendy Wischer.


“The exhibition A Painting for Over the Sofa (that’s not necessarily a painting) makes a distinctly art world jest. It plays on the notion, relived all too often by artists and dealers, that there is a segment of the art-buying public whose main interest in paintings, prints, and sculptures is that they not clash with the wallpaper, outshine the upholstery, bollocks the feng shui, or otherwise shame the appointments.

“Those who make a living by art find this attitude annoying and retrograde to say the least, especially because they put a lot of thinking and doing into their exertions, down to the small details. Art people tend to be critical by nature, and their routines embrace the social and political, the psychological and the historical far more often than they dabble in interior design. This is not to mention, of course, formalist daring-do, or the art-critical thickets that headier practitioners like to thrash around when they apply paint to canvas, focus their lenses, or start molding their protoplasmic substances. It’s no wonder that they’re quick with the rude fun when it comes to what might be called bourgeois sensibility.

“What ties this show’s eighteen pieces together is something deeper and more elusive than the admittedly thin premise of a raspberry to clients of heedless taste, however. A Painting for Over the Sofa (that’s not necessarily a painting) goes to great, mostly oblique lengths to show just how unsuitable art is as decoration, how much more it is than accoutrements. The exhibition’s works are observant, droll, argumentative, heart-breaking, off-putting, discomfiting, perplexing, memorable. Anything but demure. These are not knick-knacks for the den that you casually turn your back to. You would not overlook a single one to indulge in gastronomic chit-chat or the exchange of middle-brow fashion statements. In their presence, they are precisely what you talk about.

“It’s not simply that the work is tough, though much of it decidedly is. Or that it is outsized and oddly shaped. Or that it’s put together with a spiny bravura whose harshness is its point. Rather, each of these works has some evident, nagging complexity, rendering it useless as a color spot, overpowering as a pretty picture, too subtle for thick-headed stylishness. It seems that Bernice Steinbaum (who served as curator of this project and organizer of its tour) has convened a group of artists who, all told, are sharp but not brainy, quick with quip, far-seeing, and able workers.

“But let us give some credit to our absent patron, the gilder of living room walls and sunporch nooks, that swine before whom one’s pearls have been cast. This hypothetical philistine is not entirely to be hooted at. Who’s to say that our interloper, when remarking on the lovely tropical pin air of The Door of No Return, which Mr. Duval-Carrié has sweated copiously over just imagining, is not getting to the very stuff that draws us to these works in the first place?

“It may indeed be that it’s nice arrangement of objects, the weight an curve of their lines, their shadows and hue, that provide their inner light. It is a dynamic process that we are considering when we look at artifacts on the wall, a process that begins as pigment touches and canvas and burin scratches stone. These may be the qualities that the artist most deeply considers, the dealer gives a chance to, that you and I, the visitors to the studio, gallery and museum, stop before so we can all begin to talk about the important things we imagine the work really signifies.”

-Joel Weinstein, Miami, Florida extracted from catalogue for A Painting for Over the Sofa (that’s not necessarily a painting)