Multi-talented Robert Longo is known for more than his drawings: his performance pieces, music performances, films and videos invent are appreciated by art lovers around the world for commenting on subjects such as power and authority. This Thursday, eyes once again turns to Longo has he premieres not one but two exhibitions in his native New York City: one at Petzel Gallery and another at Metro Pictures.

At Petzel, Longo looks to the U.S. Capitol building and the American flag, two highly polarizing national symbols. In Longo’s enormous seven-panel drawing of this historic building, the immutable monumentality of the U.S. Capitol image is particularized by subtle variations in the molding above each of the building’s windows and by their individual curtains. Longo’s most recent confrontation with the contentious nature of the American flag as symbol of both nationalism and protest is a 17-foot high black wax surfaced sculpture that appears to collapse into or fall through the gallery’s floor. A mediating note is a drawing of the poignantly solemn image of the riderless horse that led JFK’s funeral procession.

A concurrent exhibition at Metro Pictures, “Gang of Cosmos,” includes twelve charcoal drawings of well-known Abstract Expressionist paintings. Represented are Willem DeKooning, Adolph Gottleib, Helen Frankenthaler, Lee Krasner, Norman Lewis, Joan Mitchell, Robert Motherwell, Barnett Newman, Jackson Pollock, Ad Reinhardt, Mark Rothko and Clyfford Still. In entering into this dialogue with major figures of 50 years ago, Longo acknowledges Abstract Expressionism’s undiminished importance in American art and its influence on his own thinking. This thoroughly studied and finely executed body of work represents Longo’s most personal engagement with his subject and the revelatory process of executing the drawings in minute detail.

“Strike the Sun” ends on May 10th. For more info click here.

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