An artist who got his start in the late ‘90s as a raffish bad-boy painter of hyperrealist Hollywood “film stills” yanked from appropriated materials (or photographs of his wife), often with a healthy helping of transgressive bedroom voyeurism á la Eric Fischl, Damian Loeb was a market sensation, then critical cat toy, then where-are-they-now question mark. For the past several years the answer to that question has been Acquavella, the aristocratic gallery in a townhouse on New York’s Upper East Side that deals in Bacon, Auerbach, Riopelle, and other august estates. Loeb is one of a handful of living artists, and one of the youngest of them.
Lately, the edge of his hyperrealism has relaxed. His new body of work involves paintings of the night sky, drawing upon photographs he either takes himself or sources from NASA to create dewy portraits of the celestial bodies. He’s gone from one type of star to another, in a sense, and these canvases have a rich and easy beauty. An artist without formal training—he never went to art school—he has proven a hardy lesson for today’s young market stars: keep going. He has a new show opening at Acquavella this February.