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ART REVIEW : Rolston and the Rich and Famous

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

For Matthew Rolston, whose photographs of the rich, beautiful, and/or famous are on view at Fahey-Klein, self-indulgence seems to be a modus operandi .

There is, no doubt, a good time to be had here--especially by those of us who have been known to enjoy the Enquirer. There’s Madonna posed in a jacket and tie, playing at Marlene Dietrich, and Sly Stallone, veins bulging and hair neatly slicked back, dressed up for a game of polo.

There’s Sean Young bathed in soft-focus and Michael Jackson seated on an ermine throw, wearing a crown tipped rakishly across his brow, as only he can.

For those of us seeking loftier pleasures, Rolston offers a heady trip through the history of photography, cruising through Man Ray (an “arty” nude with intricately patterned shadows playing across her body and a solarized shot of Anjelica Huston’s profile), Andre Kertesz (an image of a woman with an impossibly elongated neck, in the manner of the surrealist’s distortions), George Platt Lynes crossed with Robert Mapplethorpe (muscular nudes posing in dramatically lit, geometric environments), and even Helmut Newton (a man slipping spaghetti between the breasts of a frowning woman in evening dress).

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Strangest of all is the “Bad and the Beautiful” series, titled after Vincente Minnelli’s 1952 kitsch classic about old Hollywood’s sultriest actress and most ruthless producer, starring Lana Turner and Kirk Douglas. Here, Rolston poses young actors and actresses in full-blown, classical Hollywood-style studio set-ups, demonstrating little more than the fact that second-tier starlets Lea Thompson and Meredith Salenger look better in padded shoulders and false eyelashes than in their lace-trimmed bicycle shorts.

Rolston bills himself as a Postmodernist, rifling through past styles, genres and moods in order to wreak havoc on a linear conception of history. His palpably desperate grab after glamour, however, betrays his true project--profound nostalgia masquerading as irreverence.

* Fahey-Klein Gallery, 148 N. La Brea Ave., (213) 934-2250. Closed Sundays and Mondays. To Nov. 30.


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