Joe Bradley Reveals Painting’s Superpower

THE DAILY PIC: In the Brant foundation's new 'Animal Farm' show, Joe Bradley shows that painting can make do with little.

THE DAILY PIC (#1790): I’m fascinated by works that come as close as possible to the minimum a painting can be, and then still manage to be convincing paintings. A favorite of mine is an early landscape by New York artist Alexi Worth that’s barely more than a stick figure surrounded by brown-bump hills and sketched-in bodies of water. Today’s Pic is a canvas by Joe Bradley, titled Schuperman, that manages a similar trick, but in Pop Art terms and with even more minimal means. It is just—but completely—a reference to Superman’s famous “S,” and curator (and artist) Sadie Laska was very smart to include it in “Animal Farm,” the group exhibition she launched Sunday at the Brant Foundation Art Study Center in Greenwich, Conn.

In a show whose works are mostly messy and maximalist, Bradley’s piece acts as a wonderful palate (and palette) cleanser. I can’t help feel that in this case Superman’s “S” acts as a declaration of painting’s power to represent: Even backwards and barely sketched, we can all instantly recognize the subject at hand. No need for more heroics than that. (Collection of and courtesy The Brant Foundation Art Study Center, Greenwich, CT)

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