Walter Dahn, "4th Time Around/(My Back Pages)"
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Walter Dahn was a player in the ’80s–’90s Cologne, Germany, art scene, whose Neo-Expressionist paintings of anxiously energetic figures, taken from dreams and ethnological sources, were featured in several New York solos at the time. One of those was at Gladstone Gallery in 1990—which is also when he met the curator of this current show, the artist Richard Prince. There’s definitely an affinity between Dahn’s oeuvre and Prince’s, particularly in the use of appropriated imagery and text, an irreverent attitude, and a blurring of high culture and low.
While Prince’s admiration for his fellow bad-boy artist is evident, one might have expected a better showcase than this haphazard selection of resale pieces and unsold items from Dahn’s Berlin gallery. Still, there are a few nuggets among the remainders. A rapidly brushed 1981 canvas of a wide-eyed girl is the best thing here. A 1996/2004 painting of a silhouetted rabbit nods to the artist’s legendary teacher, Joseph Beuys, while a quirky 2005 portrayal of Anne Frank on gingham winks at Sigmar Polke. But overall, Dahn’s back pages were best left closed.—Paul Laster