Once upon a time there were artists who believed that there was a natural order to painting—they were called traditionalists. Then there came along artists who emphasized the need for revitalization through disorder—they were called avant-gardists. Then the avant-garde triumphed and disorder became the new natural order. So does that mean that a contemporary painter who wants to reinstate the old natural order believes in the disordering of disorder?

Something like this brain-twister comes to mind in front of the convention-twisting figure paintings that Gabriel Laderman, a traditionalist with a taste for disorder, has been doing for the past few years. The most impressive painting in Laderman’s show at the Robert Schoelkopf Gallery in October, called Family Romance II, centers on a woman, naked and hugely pregnant, seated on a bed. Very close to her on the bed...


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