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Lari Pittman

An American Place

1986

For nearly 30 years, Lari Pittman has created complex paintings that investigate politics, gender, sexuality, identity, American culture, and his own life. Mixing a wide range of bold colorful imagery, he constructs layers of associations and meaning using a signature visual vocabulary that navigates between abstraction, representation, and decoration. An American Place marks an important shift in Pittman’s career: In 1985, the artist was the victim of a shooting that left him seriously injured. Made shortly after his recovery, the work features imagery associated with life and reproduction (trees, eggs, and vital organs) as well as death (shards and fragments of color, a gun, and a wholesome American picket fence transformed), suggesting many possible narrative threads.

Lari Pittman (b. 1952, Los Angeles; lives and works in Los Angeles)
An American Place, 1986
Oil and acrylic on mahogany panels
80 x 164 in.
The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles
The El Paso Natural Gas Company Fund for California Art

The work is always very narrative, very symbolic. It alerts the viewer that it’s in service of some other idea, but when I look at the works, those that last for me, that are still worth considering, are the ones that have that formal architecture, that structure for the content, that left/right, that up/down. —Lari Pittman