Despite the thousands of visuals we encounter every day, images still retain the ability to pack a punch. The new exhibition at the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis (3750 Washington Boulevard; 314-535-4660 or www.camstl.org) is loaded with images that seem innocent enough upon the initial viewing, but the longer they are looked at, the more that is revealed. Cryptic: The Use of Allegory in Contemporary Art With a Master Class From Goya is the most straightforward exhibition title one will ever read. Six contemporary artists contribute works that describe the agonies of self-sufficiency, the problematic nature of point of view and the dangers of instant gratification; their works also offer critiques of political ideas and social values. As the title says, Spanish artist Francisco Goya serves as spiritual guide and centerpiece for the exhibition. Goya's pieces are from two sets, Los Caprichos and Los Disparates (or Los Proverbios). They are dark, haunting images satirizing Spanish life in Goya's day, with a pressing sense of the terror Goya felt at the end of his life. Cryptic opens with a free public reception from 7 to 9 p.m. Friday, May 20. The exhibition remains on display through Sunday, August 14, and the gallery is open every day except Monday. Admission is $3 to $5 but free on Wednesday and Saturday.
Tuesdays-Sundays. Starts: May 20. Continues through Aug. 14, 2011