These three little paintings made recently by David Diao are miniature versions, about the size of a large art book, of huge abstract paintings that Diao originally produced in the later 1970s. They are now on view at Postmasters gallery in New York, in the last show in its longtime Chelsea space, from which dealers Magdalena Sawon and Tamas Banovich have been chased by the area’s rent inflation (proving that Chelsea’s rising tide – financially speaking – has been sinking some of its very best boats, even when Sandy couldn’t). Diao talks about them as related to Marcel Duchamp’s “Boite en Valise”, the Frenchman’s miniaturized anthology of his own works. But I find that this project brings Diao much closer to Sherrie Levine’s appropriation: By copying himself, in a new scale, at a new date, Diao has utterly changed the meaning of the works he made earlier: They aren’t serious studies in form, so much as wry, even wistful comments on art and decoration and the demise of painting’s grand pretentions.
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