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Goings On About Town, Sherrie Levine

The artist’s latest appropriative romances are with Ad Reinhardt, Chaim Soutine, and an anonymous nineteenth-century Japanese sculptor of wild-animal bibelots. Two suites of fourteen monochromes on mahogany panels average the hues of Reinhardt’s blue paintings, from blackish to semi-ultramarine to powdery, with effects both lush and deadening. Two sets of fourteen photographs, one black-and-white and the other in color, of reproductions of Soutine portraits of staff workers—chefs, waiters, a maid, a bellboy—freeze-dry that painter’s turbulent soul. A tiger attacks a crocodile in one tenderly patinated bronze of a Meiji-era original. In another, two tigers ill-advisedly take on an elephant. As always with Levine, perfect craft secretes choked emotion. It’s as if somebody somewhere were angry about something, but incommunicado. Whose problem is this? Ours, alas, on account of the work’s remorseless beauty.