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June 12, 2008|PAUL YOUNG

Fifteen years may seem like a long time in today's art world, but it was exactly 15 years ago that critic Dave Hickey predicted the onslaught of "beauty" among artists of the 1990s. (Or more precisely, "the language of visual effect, the rhetoric of how things look, the iconography of desire.")

He was right, of course, although one could argue over why. Was it because we had grown tired of "idea" art? Or because buyers were demanding more lush and decorative works? Whichever the case, things haven't changed much. Jennifer Steinkamp's gorgeous video projections at ACME (acmelosangeles.com) are utterly transparent in their embrace of decoration. (Imagine animated flowers cascading down walls.) Yet however sensuous, they're also technological and architectural in the best possible way.

Jean Conner, by contrast, comes from the same school as her husband, master collage artist Bruce Conner. But her show at Michael Kohn reveals that she prefers to work in a lighter, more compassionate vein. Meanwhile, on June 21, MOCA brings us Amsterdam-based Marlene Dumas, who paints soft watercolors from a wide range of sources -- from fashion pages to pornography. Yet the effect is the same: one of undeniable appeal.

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-- theguide@latimes.com

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