The most talked-about gallery show this past September consisted of paintings by artists whom nobody had ever heard of. “Thrift Store Paintings,” a gathering of nearly two hundred pictures that artist Jim Shaw gleaned from resale shops across America as well as from other collectors, pulled in big crowds at Metro Pictures, and is now scheduled to be seen in Chicago, Los Angeles, and a number of European cities. Shaw’s My Mirage installation, an anthology of all the creepy-cartoony imagery that’s marketed to adolescents in the malls and discount stores of Middle America, was in the Whitney Biennial last spring. “Thrift Store Paintings” is another sort of anthology. It highlights two very different kinds of taste: the taste of the generally anonymous artists who painted these pictures and could hardly have imagined that their work would be exhibited in one of New York’s power galleries, and the...

 
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