New on View: Rosalyn Drexler’s Fresh News (Men and Machines)

By | August 21, 2018

Rosalyn Drexler, American, born 1926; Fresh News (Men and Machines), 1965; acrylic and paper collage on canvas; 40 × 50 inches; Saint Louis Art Museum, Siteman Contemporary Art Fund 112:2017 © Rosalyn Drexler / Artists Rights Society

Painted in 1965—the heyday of Pop art in New York— Rosalyn Drexler’s Fresh News (Men and Machines) is one of a series of paintings by the artist based on media images of men working with technology. Here, Drexler appropriates and abstracts an image of two men in suits supervising an advanced commercial printing press—the new Heidelberg Rotaspeed. By using large swathes of flat, primary color, Drexler elides any clues to the figures’ identities, conflating these men with the machine they operate.

Demystifying the promises of 1960s technological progress and corporate capitalism, Fresh News (Men and Machines) exposes lingering anxieties of the Cold War era, such as the loss of human agency in the face of industrial advances— reassessing the confidence of post-war American society and its precarious rise of affluence and worldwide leadership. Utilizing source materials originating from magazines, pulp fiction, tabloids, posters, B-movies, or books, her paintings suggest a “tabloidization” of modern sensibility—moving beyond the aesthetics of post-war mass production, reproduction and consumption so often glorified by pop artists. Instead Drexler takes a deeper look at the banal triviality of post-war consumption and mass media, examining the underbelly of popular culture and American everydayness in light of these considerations.

The Museum purchased Fresh News (Men and Machines) in 2017. The painting is on view in Gallery 254.

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