At Metro Pictures

There are very few galleries in SoHo where one can have any expectation of seeing art of quality on a regular basis. I can think of fewer than a dozen: Washburn, Ingber, and the cooperatives at 121 Wooster Street come quickly to mind. But in general in SoHo the mise-en-scène surpasses in interest any of the art hanging on the walls. There’s an obvious element of theater in the galleries, especially in the deluxe SoHo art palaces, where the immense spaces set the stage for many different gradations of chic and hauteur.

Art-as-spectacle: this is a very old idea whose time has once again come. The courtly culture of the Baroque, with its tromple l’oeil decor and elaborately composed gardens, made art and life into teasing mirror twins. One feels an echo of this theatrical idea—an echo as blurred and off-center as a color xerox copy—in the new ambitions of the art scene in SoHo and the East Village....


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