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catalog essay

Painting In Boston: 1950 – 2000

Painting In Boston: 1950 - 2000

White’s essentially light-hearted, childlike aesthetic, her latest outright evocation of the kindergarten art table and coloring book images, and her continuation of cheery, popular crafting are all tied to the comfort and coziness of late-twentieth-century suburban childhood and its resulting television-propelled product culture…

DeCordova Museum
2002
Essay The New Painting by Ann Wilson Lloyd

Lucy White’s bright little paintings, meanwhile, are equally innocent and popularly appealing, though a bit slyer in their conceptual content. While White’s earlier works were constructions that evolved into abstractions or patterns and incorporated romantic additives like lace, seed pods, and leaves, Blue Eyes (1996, plate 67) may be a transitional piece. Its patterned abstraction of felt circles that the artist cut out freehand resembles a sea of gazing, blissful baby blues and feels more cartoony than romantic, a bit reminiscent of Ellen Gallagher’s strategies of tiny object/image flat up against planar surface. White carries both application and paint over and onto the deep, built-up sides of the work, making a textural and three-dimensional object that defies pigeonholing as either painting or sculpture. Cutting her own circles, White explains, “gives them a tiny individuality and animates the overall surface—not in a chaotic way, but in a very active way because there are so many. You see some areas being squeezed and other areas with a bit more breathing space. The sides of the piece are an active part, and comment on the painting’s content or process.”

Resin, cut felt, acrylic on wood (1996)

White’s later works, meanwhile, are simplified linear forms that could have been traced from infant picture books, notwithstanding the occasional nude or revolver, and her colors are laid down in flat, monochrome blocks as if strictly corralled between imaginary lines. Taking the place of felt circles and seedpods are mere imprints of objects, recognizable drugstore sundries like Band-Aids, Handi-Wipes, and sanitary pads.

While the Dadaists may have been the first to subvert consumer culture, White’s use of nontraditional art materials links her with mid-century Pop Art, when Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg began adding found objects like coffee cans and stuffed goats to their paintings and sculpture. By definition she may be even more aligned with Arte Povera in her combination of conceptualism, minimalism, and the use of valueless materials. Textiles added to and even substituted for paint and canvas, have been a recent ploy, with examples of knitting, embroidery, quilting, and items of clothing frequently in evidence. These materials, as well as White’s latest use of overtly domestic subject matter, are tributaries of feminism blended with earlier art movements. White’s essentially light-hearted, childlike aesthetic, her latest outright evocation of the kindergarten art table and coloring book images, and her continuation of cheery, popular crafting are all tied to the comfort and coziness of late-twentieth-century suburban childhood and the resulting television-propelled product culture that is discernible in the work of many artists her age.

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