Sharing Steve :: New Stuff
Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Martin Mull exhibits in NYC, Steve does a blurb

New York Observer
October 3, 2005
CULTURE; Currently Hanging, Pg. 22
Philip Pearlstein: A Drab Hand
Flaunts a Keen Eccentric Streak
Mario Naves

White-Bread Noir

The aspirations and disappointments of suburban America continue to haunt the paintings of Martin Mull, on display at the Spike Gallery. Mr. Mull's collage-like juxtapositions of middle-class trappings and noirish, dissociated figures are suffused with a dry, absurdist melancholy. A pasticheur through and through, Mr. Mull cobbles together his wry and dreamy narratives by painting from preexisting images--photos that look like they're cut out of mass-circulation magazines circa 1957. He renders them in a soft monochrome, usually black and white, at times with a greenish cast, or in a palette that takes its cues from overexposed and faded Kodachrome snapshots.

Mr. Mull can't quite relinquish a certain smugness of tone; he has a tendency to flaunt his distance and smarts. Those leanings are nevertheless offset by an acknowledgment and acceptance of mixed feelings. No readymade cynicism here: A cool disdain for Leave It to Beaver doesn't obscure a simultaneous hankering for its white-bread fictions. Mr. Mull has more to tell us about the promise and limitations of "the American psyche" (as Steve Martin puts it in a blurb) than Andy Warhol and Robert Rauschenberg--if not Stuart Davis and Edward Hopper. He's a painter capable of holding a viewer's attention and, almost against one's better inclinations, tugging at the heart.

Martin Mull: The Contemplation of Assets is at the Spike Gallery, 547 West 20th Street, until Nov. 12.


You can find pictures of his work and more information at Spike Gallery.

Here's Steve's quote:

"Mull’s eye is focused dead center on the American psyche, and his hand is grounded in the tradition of American realism, which, in spite of dramatic excursions away from it, maintains a powerful grasp on American art."
- Steve Martin


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