VENUS OVER MANHATTAN is pleased to present FROM POP TO PUNK, paintings from the ’60s and ’70s by renowned painter PETER SAUL, on view at 980 Madison beginning February 25, 2015. Saul’s politically charged, and often politically incorrect, paintings are rooted in a system of removal from the artist’s beliefs, void of morals and ambivalent in their politics. Saul sources imagery from popular culture and current and historical events for his cartoonish and surreal depictions. The resulting paintings of the grotesque are more akin to social commentary than clear political statements.

Born in San Francisco in 1934, Saul settled in Paris in the late ’50s after completing his studies at California School of Fine Arts and Washington University, St. Louis. Saul is often associated with the Chicago Imagists, a group of artists typically defined by their Post-War tradition of fantasy-based art-making rooted in surrealism, pop culture, and the grotesque, as well as the Funk Artists of the San Francisco Bay Area. Like the Imagists and Funk Artists, Saul chose to work outside of the confines of the New York art scene, instead embracing humor in a time of stark seriousness.

Predating Pop Art, Saul’s Sex Boat, 1961, is expressionist and loosely rendered, depicting banal everyday objects as a direct response to the existentialist beliefs of Abstract Expressionism. Saul’s paintings from the late ’60s and early ’70s, on the other hand, are more vibrantly colored, technically refined and illustrative. An exhibition highlight, Crucifixion of Angela Davis, 1973, depicts Davis as a green, contorted, monstrous figure strung about a wooden cross, stabbed with knives that read “JEEZ US,” “JEEZ IS,” and “JEE SIS”. A prominent counterculture leader of the ’60s associated with both human rights and violent activism, Davis remains a controversial political figure. These are the images that Saul is drawn to – “pictures with problems.”

Peter Saul has exhibited his work internationally and throughout the United States. Saul’s work appears in numerous museum collections, including the Art Institute of Chicago; the Carnegie Museum, Pittsburgh; Centre Pompidou, Paris; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Museum Ludwig, Cologne; Museum of Modern Art, New York; and Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam. Peter Saul lives and works in New York.

The show is up through April 18. 2015.