Batman Returns, and so does color in this iconically chromophobe – or to accentuate the positive, rigorously restrictive – painter, usually, in black, white and silver. Pensato started painting Batman in her no holds barred fast, masterfully goofy calligraphic idiom in the mid-1970s but the caped hero was thrust aside in the intervening years by such usurpers as Donald Duck and Homer, both of whom are still presences in this gutsy – almost literally! – display of painterly bravura. Also new: detritus from the artist’s recently vacated studio. Anyone who is still peddling the line that AbEx painting is inherently macho and remote from popular culture needs to take a careful look at Pensato: heiress equally to Pollock and Warhol and a fearless feminist to boot.
Joyce Pensato: Batman Returns is on view through February 25 at 537 West 22nd Street, Tel (212) 680-9467.
The exhibition will be discussed at The Review Panel at the National Academy Museum on February 24