In (among) the Pitts
We hear of and witness so much inflation in contemporary art - of reputations, of scale, of prices and egos - that it comes as a relief to find work as self-effacing and unstressed as James Sterling Pitt's at Ping Pong.
Humor unstrings artworks more often than it cinches them, but Pitt's endlessly lighthearted deferral of any sort of punch line gives his work a surprising staying power.
A long L-shaped table crowded with small sculptures serves as a centerpiece here. The table sculptures and related wall pieces bring to mind predecessors from Alberto Giacometti and Hans Arp to Cy Twombly, Richard Tuttle, Franz West and Pitt's near contemporary, Steve Wolfe.
Like Wolfe, Pitt makes facsimiles of books that he apparently admires. But unlike the fastidious Wolfe, Pitt takes minimal trouble to disguise his replicas' artificiality. (Full disclosure: My book "The Lightning Field" rounds out one of Pitt's stacks.)
Affectionate recollection of sculptors' early efforts to make their work look avant-garde grades into open homage to practitioners such as Twombly and Tuttle.
Pitt's show adds up to something like a portrait sketch of his own working life, with uncertainly finished sculptures sharing space with books, facsimile record albums and plants and even a fake pair of stereo floor speakers, circa late '80s. Pitt's ultimate theme: affection for the creative life - his own and others'. After I described Matthew Barney's art as "loveless," someone asked me for an example of its opposite. Pitt provides it.