On view through Halloween, Luther Price’s “The Dry Remains” beats Viennese Actionist Hermann Nitsch’s blood-red acrylic paintings at Marc Straus as the Lower East Side’s most morbid show this season. The Massachusetts-based artist plumbs the subject of decay, an interest that was amplified profoundly when he was shot and nearly killed 30 years ago. Four mummified-looking sculptures produced in 1984 and ’85—one made before his injury and three made afterward—frame a collection of image-based work that both depicts and undergoes degradation. While his new paintings dutifully extend his interest in collaged serial images of meat and tarnished materials, his slide projection pieces, based on earlier films, are much more captivating. The quasi-psychedelic Sugar Factures, comprising slides and an audio recording, shows images broken down by the sweet substance, while Meat Chapter 3 (both 2015), projected from three carousels, combines photographic images of families with surgical ones in the same frame. With their serial nature and horror-show sensibility, Price’s slide works are a surprising descendent of Warhol’s “Death and Disaster” series.
Pictured: Installation view of Luther Price’s “The Dry Remains,” 2015. Courtesy the artist and Callicoon Fine Arts, New York.
Best known for his Super 8 films and slide projections covering topics ranging from his own traumatic family history to medical procedures, Luther Price was also, in the mid-‘80s, a sculptor (he stopped in 1986 to focus on film and performance). The work in “The Years Made Flies,” completed while Price was a student at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design, is predictably gruesome and creepy: seated life-size figures with missing limbs; a pile of spindly, antlike dead babies; and mixed-medium wall panels imbedded with twisted human bodies, trash, flags and other disconcerting materials.