Purple Art

[May 24 2024]


The exhibition Whose Muse? at Palo Gallery reconsiders the legacy of twentieth century portraiture and its contemporary iterations, bringing together works by Dash Snow, Susan Meiselas, George Grosz, Ronan Day-Lewis, Phoebe Helander, Asher Liftin, Jonathan Meese, Lucian Freud, Louise Bourgeois, and others. 


This expansive survey of works contemplates the construction and depiction of identity in contemporary society. In a digital age inundated by images, privacy falls to the wayside of spectatorship. Social media has become a chimera in that it offers a false sense of participating in the lives of others through an endless stream of fleeting moments. Paradoxically, this abundance of images, of self-portraits and selfies, doesn’t create intimacy, but rather a crowded remoteness. The temporality of the click and the scroll replaces continuity with discontinuity, rupturing any sort of narrative. 


Long before the now ubiquitous front-facing phone camera, the portrait denoted the process of a subject – the muse – sitting in front of the artist, an ossified moment in time painstakingly rendered. The portrait conveyed an inner world, its textural depth and atmosphere necessitating prolonged and careful contemplation. Whose Muse? revives this imperative in a rebuttal to the superficiality inherent in the culture of pervasive image consumption. The works on view give a sense of looking into private scenes unfolding in their most intimate hours, their subjects immersed in pensive solitude. Their emotional resonance comes precisely from their deliberateness, which arrests the viewer’s attention. Though disparate in styles, the works ultimately coalesce into a cohesive dialogue between self-contained parallel worlds. 


On view until June 1st, 2024


Palo Gallery

30 Bond Street

New York City, NY



Text by Anfisa Vrubel

Images provided by Palo Gallery

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