ART IN REVIEW; Michael Craig-Martin

By KEN JOHNSONJAN. 7, 2000Peter Blum99 Wooster Street, SoHoThrough Jan. 29Michael Craig-Martin's environment of wall paintings and canvas paintings has an invigorating, jazzy feel. Big Pop-style images are boldly outlined on fruit-colored walls, and relationships between wall painting and painting on canvas are cleverly manipulated. But there is a certain staleness to Mr. Craig-Martin's imagery. He repeatedly represents overly familiar images from modern art history, including Marcel Duchamp's urinal, Rene Magritte's pipe and Jasper Johns's ale cans. However inspirational these objects have been to Mr. Craig-Martin, who lives in England and has been mixing Minimalist, Pop and Conceptualist strains since the 1960's, they are not, in this context at least, particularly exciting to look at or think about. (Mr. Craig-Martin's murals featuring similar images now on view in the lobby of the Museum of Modern Art seem a confusing combination of the didactic and the commercial.)Fortunately Mr. Craig-Martin depicts more anonymous objects, too. This show's biggest canvas, at 9 by 17 feet, bears a symmetrical mirror image of accumulated office furniture including chairs, file cabinets, tables and desk lamps; elsewhere in the gallery the artist has painted individual objects like a stepladder or a spilled bottle of pills directly on the wall. These images are more intriguing than the art-historical ones. Considering his gifts as a draftsman and designer, Mr. Craig-Martin's preoccupation with textbook icons seems limiting. KEN JOHNSONWe are continually improving the quality of our text archives. Please send feedback, error reports, and suggestions to .A version of this review appears in print on January 7, 2000, on Page E00043 of the National edition with the headline: ART IN REVIEW; Michael Craig-Martin. Order Reprints| Today's Paper|Subscribe

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