Merlin James and Thomas Demand – whose current solo shows face each other on West 22nd Street – might seem as different as two contemporary artists can be: One a poetic charmer, the other an austere, highly cerebral photo-conceptualist.
But a coincidence of means begs a comparison between shows of overtly contrastive mood and artworld temper. For both artists make their final images — small-scale easel paintings in acrylic in the case of Mr. James, a photographic installation in the case of Mr. Demand – from models of their own making. And both use buildings, though neither is concerned with architecture per se. The way models play a role in the precarious interchange of perceived reality and encouraged artifice constitute a specifically contemporary attitude towards subject matter.
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