Tim Rollins and K.O.S. at A.R.T.

Tim Rollins and K.O.S., untitled, from Prometheus Bound, 1997
[image not in the show at Art Resources Transfer]

It's a gorgeous mini-retrospective, or, better, a retrospective of the smaller-scale parts of 20 years of collaboration. Tim Rollins's work with the Kids of Survival (K.O.S.), studies in this case, mostly on paper alone, are now being shown in three rooms at the Art Resources Transfer (A.R.T.) space in Chelsea until November 15.

What for me had until now been available only in scattered glimpses of separate projects is now assembled in what admittedly is still only a tantalizing suggestion of the larger, finished pieces in each. But what a treat these suggestions are!

Each of the 40 works is inspired by and is physically lying upon the text of a major literary work or musical composition. Art has seldom been so literate, especially if we remember that the Tim Rollins and K.O.S. collective is as much about teaching as it is about painting and drawing.

The artists' chronology begins with a 1983 delicate sketch of Jesse Owens on a page of Mein Kampf. Chapter: "Race." It ends with Bush II in 2003, drawn as a two-legged squirel stretched across a page of Animal Farm which includes the creatures' Seven Commandments, which begin with, "1. Whatever goes upon two legs is an enemy."

In betwen there is Aeschylus, Ray Bradbury, Dante, Hawthorne, Haydn, Kafka, Stoker, Strauss, Wells and dozens of others, all of them beautifully illustrated and intelligently and powerfully amplified in the process. It's a great treat, and a moving encounter on any level.

A.R.T. is located at 210 11th Avenue, between 24th and 25th Streets, on the fourth floor, and open Tuesday though Saturday from 11 until 6. 212-691-5956

[image from Dia Art Foundation]