On the Verge of Domestication

Artvoices Art Books. May 2023. 154p. ISBN 9780998748481. $60. FINE ARTS
This new artist monograph, from Los Angeles publisher Artvoices’ ongoing series, provides a sweeping look at over 30 years of paintings by the prolific fellow Angeleno Mendelsohn-Bass. Her lushly colorful canvases incorporate imagery from retro advertisements and packaging and are populated by buxom blondes, faux-buoyant housewives, and Mad Men–era suits. They have a piquant if sometimes glib impact, similar to the work of Barbara Kruger and Roy Liechtenstein. A turgid but thankfully brief introductory essay makes perhaps too much of what the writer calls Mendelsohn-Bass’s “identity constructions” and stretches to align them with film noir’s mise-en-scene. As a critique of consumerism and domestic life they can be both witty and at times—as when she incorporates brands like Good & Plenty or Lucky Charms—excessively facile. The publication is a portfolio of several dozen paintings. Each has a visually compelling, collage-like graphic structure, skillfully rendered in oil paint while clobbering the viewer with metaphor.
VERDICT Art served with an arched eyebrow, a marginal title of some interest to art teachers and students.
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