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More on "extreme abstraction": Adolescent ranting aside, there is always the inherent contradiction of packaging work as extreme or "out there" when it's acceptable enough to curatorial and collector sensibilities to be in a major museum. I don't know David Batchelor's work but the rest of the choices in the Albright-Knox's "Extreme Abstraction" show are bread-and-butter practitioners. Each got noticed for bringing a little added oomph to the art world's workaday business of moving paintings. Besemer is "excessive" in the sense of "look at all those damn tiny stripes, can you believe someone sat there and painted those by hand with a brush?" but her paintings are perfectly crafted modular artifacts that are ultimately quite soothing to collector sensibilities. I'm really not sure what's supposed to be extreme about David Reed, unless it's the polish and seamlessness he brings to his surfaces. Katharina Grosse's best wall paintings do have a bit of that messy graffitti edge but compared to say, Jonathan Borofsky's rambunctious wall fillers of yore she seems positively sedate. In a sense all abstraction is extreme because no one gets it except a handful of aging art world initiates and it still has the capacity to inspire hostility after all these years. (I realize "extreme abstraction" as an exhibition title is sort of a joke and don't want to belabor this.)

- tom moody 7-13-2005 8:55 pm [link]