Though the Robischon Gallery (1740 Wazee Street, 303-298-7788, www.robischongallery.com) is a commercial enterprise, it's indistinguishable from a tidy downtown museum in appearance and atmosphere. This has to do both with the relentless high quality of the offerings there and the venue's enormous size.
As you can imagine, that means there's a lot on view at Robischon through the holidays. Two of the current offerings resonate with one another, as both are about the relationship of contemporary art to the old-master tradition of Europe — not to mention that both take on the subject of sex.
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Chris Antemann & Kendrick Moholt: Let Them Eat Cake has been installed in the gorgeous front rooms. The display comprises large-format digital prints that Moholt took of porcelain scenes of revelry set in the 1700s; Antemann, a ceramics sculptor, built the scenes, which consist of men and woman at parties. They were done in a style that recalls classic European porcelain work, with finely modeled faces, hair and hands, a glossy-white finish, and gilt or colored accents used to carry out the details.
There is a tradition in porcelain figurines of depicting clothed men in tri-corner hats being attended to by nude women. Antemann turns this standard upside down with the women being clothed and the men nude, or partially so, as seen in "Tea Party 6" (pictured). One subtle, if shocking, element of these tableaux are the tiny gilt-edged erections some of the male figures sport.
Wes Hempel: Tacit Turns is also about imposing a contemporary sensibility onto traditional styles. The artist carries out replicas of historic portraits from different periods in the history of art. He then adds a text block — also in a faux-antique style, each appropriate in appearance to the mood of the particular piece to which it's affixed. Taken together, the head shot and text make each read like an ad for a hookup.
Both shows run through December 31.