The curator of "Images of the '70s," the show of nine Washington artists opening Saturday at the Corcoran, suggests that the last decade was one in which no new art movement sprang up, and artists instead polished their techniques in established styles -- abstract impressionism, pop, minimal art, photo realism. The nine artists involved certainly bolster the suggestion. Every work in the show is a highly crafted, finished product; nothing is tentative. These people have done their experimenting, and what they've turned out here brims with confidence.
A. Brockie Stevenson, the senior artist in the show, has long been pleasing viewers with his precision paintings of detailed architectural and mechanical subjects, and what he's showing at the Corcoran is more of the same. His lines are straighter than straight, and, like them, his vivid colors complement each other but can never overlap, parallel into infinity.
Joe Shannon's people are cruel, yet touching. You know them all, but you're happy you've never really met them. Similarly, Genna Watson's macabre constructions repel but fascinate. Joan Danziger's humanized animals in the next room provide welcome smiles.
Kevin MacDonald's pastel rooms are strangely complementary to Manon Cleary's sinister nudes and eerie rats in the room they share.
This show is properly labeled realistic, but Rebecca Davenport, Jennie Lea Knight and Michael Clark interpret that label more literally, giving extraordinary life to mundane subjects, such as Clark's charming 1947 Cadillac.
It's a brilliant collection of modern art, and the baroque walls and skylights of the Corcoran are an unlikely but perfect setting.