Magazine article Artforum International

Kerry James Marshall

Magazine article Artforum International

Kerry James Marshall

Article excerpt

By synthesizing Leon Golub's monumentality - the mythic quality he finds even in the basest and most brutal reality - with Robert Colescort's raucous, satirical/parodic image-crunching, Kerry James Marshall is still developing a style that, while perhaps less personal (or at least less obviously idiosyncratic) than either of theirs, promises a greater range and flexibility. In their efforts to retain painting's grasp on historical subjects, Golub and Colescott sometimes seem like isolated figures - younger artists have been engaging history less convincingly in painting than in other media - but Marshall's painterly chops, conceptual wiles, and compositional assurance suggest a countertradition in the making.

Marshall's latest paintings are part of a series (of which some works were included in the exhibition "About Place: Recent Art of the Americas" at the Art Institute of Chicago last spring) whose starting point is the irony - if irony it is - that low-income housing projects often have the word "gardens" in their names: Altgeld Gardens, Rockwell Gardens, and Wentworth Gardens in Chicago, and Nickerson Gardens in Los Angeles being the nominal subjects of the four large paintings here. Marshall is after more than the simple disparity between the promise implied in the projects, names, or the uplifting slogans ("better homes better gardens," "more of everything" ) inscribed on the ribbons that snake their way through some of the paintings, and the rough reality. …

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