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Philadelphia Art and Culture Fair at Penn Credit: Tiffany Pham , Tiffany Pham

A cross-section of artist Nicole Eisenman’s imagination sprawls across the white walls of the Institute for Contemporary Art on 37th and Sansom streets.

The ICA has mounted a retrospective of a sample of work Eisenman produced from 1993 to 2013, an exhibit which is on its last few weeks in University City.

“We’ve had some of our highest attendance,” ICA’s director of marketing and communications Jill Katz said of the exhibit.  This is partly attributable to the fame of the artist herself, she said, and partly to a glowing New York Times review, which deemed the show a “spicy and tightly edited mid-career survey of one of the most interesting New York artists to come out of the 1990s.”

The exhibit is a testament to Eisenman’s versatility — her subjects are captured in media ranging from oil on canvas to sculpture to chaotic, politically sly collage. The uninitiated viewer might guess, viewing two of her works from different series side by side, that they were produced by two completely different artists. 

A portrait of Buster Keaton in a deep-sea diving suit hangs on one wall; on another, an Easter Island head-like figure, rendered in blocky color, clasps an enormous smartphone.

All of them, though, have a deep, occasionally outrageous brand of humor, as well as characters rendered so distinctively that not one can be categorized as generic. In her essay accompanying the exhibit, assistant curator at the ICA Kate Kraczon describes Eisenman as “a painter consistently drawn to figures and faces,” and this inclination is evident throughout the works on display.

Cheeky, lewd sketches of nude women rubbing their rears — captioned “Ass rash: the great equalizer” — are displayed along with scenes of a Brooklyn beer garden.

The exhibit will be up at the ICA until Dec. 28.

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