Offering a glimpse of a retrospective that toured several European museums in 2014 and 2015, “Robert Overby: Persistence. Repeated,” has the look of a tightly curated group show. The Los Angeles artist shifted styles, mediums and techniques frequently, creating an eclectic body of work that ranges from abject latex sculptures to copies of Old Master paintings. The through line in his practice seems to have been a fascination with the act of replication and the material nature of images. In the early ‘70s, Overby (1935-1993) made latex casts of doors, windows and other architectural elements. Hanging from the gallery walls, these drooping forms, in muted tans and browns, recall the work of Richard Serra, Bruce Nauman and Eva Hesse. Overby called the sensual pieces “Baroque Minimalism,” so it’s appropriate that they are presented here alongside copies of baroque-era religious paintings that Overby found and then cleaned and “restored.” Durer’s Madonna of the Siskin (1506) appears to have been something of an obsession. Overby reproduced closely cropped images of the face of this Madonna, and dozens of versions are included here. Each lithograph is faded and distorted in a unique way—one printed on plywood is capped with a fruit-basket hat—but the weird bulging eye of the Madonna is a uniform element. It’s a steady, if unnerving, focal point amid Overby’s diverse production.
Pictured: Robert Overby: R.R.O.S.E. (Versions 1-48), 1974, 49 offset lithographs, each approx. 30 by 23 ½ inches framed. Courtesy Andrew Kreps, New York.