The New Museum exhibit echoes Peter Saul’s visionary voice


Danielle Epel | The Ticker

Danielle Epel

Further into the first floor, the attendants are guided into his works from the ‘70s and ‘80s where his iconic style begins to formulate. 

With pieces depicting the injustice of the My Lai Massacre, racial discrimination in the United States and definitive portrays of who really controls this country, Saul takes viewers on a moral cleanse. 

Saul’s color palettes create a perfect brewing of lush contrast and obscenity.   Stylistically, his works took the forms of almost cartoon-like interpretations of history where the viewer is bound to question how one would even start to paint something of the sort. 

Continuing to the second floor of the exhibit, which displays his most notable pieces from the 1970s to more current works, the viewer is submerged in a world of palatable disgust. 

These pieces shed light on the unfiltered realities of several presidencies and famous battles over the course of world history.

One of his most eclectic paintings, “Washington Crossing the Delaware,” having been released in the ‘70s and cast at the center of a wall, intended to remind society of the reality behind war and that there is no reason to glorify nor promote it. 

Saul’s paintings didn’t just intend to critique history, they were also meant to draw parallels between history and the present day. 

The exhibit is one where every single person can walk away impressed or disturbed in their own way. 

The opportunity to experience this work at The New Museum, an establishment that never backs down from the questionable, is breathtaking and more relevant than it’s ever been.

Nowadays, people tend to forget how history can relate to the issues apparent today. 

When looking at Saul’s earlier works, the issues behind how racism functioned in society forty years ago directly relates to the functionality of mass incarceration and the reality behind the 13th Amendment. 

History hasn’t been washed away and shadowed over by all of the “freedom” and beauty this country seems to offer now. History remains to seep into the cracks of Donald Trump’s presidency, society’s urge to control women’s bodies, present day war and tensions between nations. 

Nothing has changed the way the public sleeps at night. 

Saul created this work to always keep the harsh mistakes written in history as a point of reference when new controversies start to arise. 

Yet, it also brings up the question of why do issues have to be portrayed by an art with striking colors and shocking depictions to finally provoke some thought.

Exhibits like Saul’s allow viewers to grasp that they should never be done with analyzing the past and growing from it. 

On Thursdays, The New Museum allows visitors to pay what they wish and welcomes a variety of eyes into the museum. 

As much as the arts need money, it’s also important to carve out some time for anyone to pay some mind instead.

In the grand scheme of it all, art and politics are often one and the same. 

However, Saul innovatively amalgamated the world of bold satire, obscure aestheticism and history, therefore creating an everlasting impact on the art world and anyone fortunate enough to experience his works.