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Hollywood

December 18, 1987|MARLENA DONOHUE

It's tough to take seriously paintings billed as "The History of Art in 3-D," with works such as "Michelangelo's Greatest Hits" designed for viewing through colored glasses and crammed with rip-offs of revered masterpieces. But you can't easily dismiss the painstaking technique that local artist James Trivers uses to render realistic details in dual blue and salmon lines. Seen through 3-D glasses, a Botticelli oscillates with the cornball "realism" of those plastic buttons that simulate motion when you jiggle them.

"3-D De (not Da) Vinci" is a handsome montage of Art Appreciation 1A images, including the famous "Last Supper" and an upside down "Mona Lisa" in finest tradition of early Hollywood. In "Lust for Life in 3-D" (the title lifted from the mediocre book and worse movie on Van Gogh), Trivers plagiarizes starry skies and anguished self portraits--and so it goes from Delacriox to Matisse.

A decent draftsman, Trivers often achieves a painterly lyricism of his own, but the idea that he's paying homage or trying his hand is absurd. In his earlier works, zany books and performances, Trivers is consistently sacrilegious. His new paintings are another spoof on the banalization of art and its reduction to a Disneyland ride or Hollywood happening with predigested thrills.

This is also smart art. In a perverted way these works hearken back to the simultaneity of Cubism and to Pop's mockery of popular culture. Finally, like Rauschenberg's symbolic erasing of a De Kooning, Trivers' works tap the anarchistic function of contemporary art that acknowledges its past only to rough it up a bit. (Newspace, 5241 Melrose, to Jan. 9.)

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