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Annotations on Loren Munk’s The East Village Map Painting

Freight + Volume Gallery’s bang-up group show “The Decline and Fall of the Art World, Part I: The One-Percenters” purports to be about “ruthless marketeering, commodity art trading, and corrupt price-fixing by the major auction houses” and how a handful of artists see this “ruin.” Sounds good. The standout part of the show is the map paintings by Loren Munk, and the best of the best is The East Village, a large-scale love note to the distant eighties scene. It is jam-packed, to the point of being dizzying, and an incredible historical document of this time of parallel universes. 

Munk is a freak of art-world nature. His work is funky, rough, busy, bumpy, a little passé, and almost garish. He makes my taste filters bristle. Yet my obsession Geiger-counter goes wild (and not just because my wife and I are on the map). Munk is an artistic outsider and an information insider. His paintings are abstract versions of Henri Fantin-Latour’s 1870 portrait of the Impressionists—outdated in style but psychically alive with a sense of what the past means in the present and the love of a devotee. The Whitney should buy this virtual visit to a place where just staying up late or hanging out might earn you a spot on the roster. It did me.

*This article originally appeared in the August 12, 2013 issue of New York Magazine.