POCKET UTOPIA

Old Master Prints at Pocket Utopia Are the Daily Pic by Blake Gopnik

The Daily Pic: Pocket Utopia shows classic engravings on New York's hip Lower East Side.

Jean-Philippe Lebas's 1741 portrait of the sculptor Robert de Lorrain (left) with Michel Lasne's image of Louis XIV, from around 1644 (Courtesy C. G. Boerner and Pocket Utopia)

We all know that New York's Lower East Side is where you go to hunt down the latest in art – maybe by tuned-in artists such as Austin Thomas. That assumption has been blown away by Thomas herself. In the latest incarnation of her Pocket Utopia space (an earlier one mattered on the Bushwick scene), Thomas is showing Old Master French engravings. She has got print expert Armin Kunz to bring in a 17th-century impression of Francis I of France, another of Louis XIV as a boy and any number of lavish, gorgeously pompous engravings showing notable artists of the Enlightenment. The pictures aren't masterpieces or rare – many are cheaper than works by emerging artists – but they provide a winning contrast to the usual LES fare. They also feel weirdly of a piece with it.

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