Francis' Fabiolas

For some 20 years, Francis Alÿs has collected paintings of the Catholic saint Fabiola. Each of his nearly 300 paintings is based on a now-lost original by 19th century French painter Jean-Jacques Henner. Last week, Alÿs' collection went on view at the Hispanic Societey of America in New York. The Belgian artist first noticed two of the paintings at a Brussels flea market in 1992; he didn't buy them but they registered in his mind: a woman in profile, always facing the same direction, always wearing red. He kept noticing the woman, rendered in paint, thread and carved wood. The ubiquity of the iconic image, Alÿs said, "indicates a different criterion of what a masterwork could be." The Dia-commissioned exhibition is on view through April 2008.

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