Friday, September 19, 2014


60x40 oil on canvas
The appetite for novelty in the art world is insatiable. Everybody thought it was all over when Malevich put a white square on a white canvas and then, along came Marcel Duchamp with his urinal and bottle washing rack and where else was there to go? Apparently, there was lots of room for innovation and artists were quick to get into the search for the new. You didn’t need to be a great, or even a good painter or sculptor, you just needed a novel idea and the more unintelligible your idea, the better it was as “art.” You had to be able to quote from French intellectuals if you wanted to be “in.” A profound statement and a couple of dots on a canvas and you were considered a meaningful artist with “something new to say.”

Lately, the art intelligentsia seems to have run out of juice, but there is still a giant establishment that needs to be fed on novelty. Something new is getting harder and harder to find.  Even if you can’t paint worth a damn, you can always walk the walk and talk the talk and that seems to be the order of the day. On a recent trip to Chelsea, my friends (an artist and an art historian) and I were appalled at how little there was worthy of a second glance. The latest emphasis appeared to be on wall-sized photo enlargements made from digitally altered images. Apparently, new technology has made huge-ness affordable and therefore perfect for filling bare, characterless walls.

Ironically, the best work we saw that day was a retrospective from the seventies: Warhol, Rivers, Rauschenberg, Kienholz and Jasper Johns, some Minimalists and a few leftover Action Painters. I wasn’t crazy about these guys when they were at their peak, forty years ago, but compared to what we saw elsewhere that day, they were innovative giants.

 I always seem to be a couple of decades behind the curve in my art tastes. I still admire people like Philip Guston, Mark Rothko, Alex Katz and Romare Beardon and have found few today that I like any better. A lot of current work just seems “clever” for the sake of cleverness, with no soul to it. We have an “avant garde” art gallery in town that features the work of smart young things from Brooklyn (or wherever the current trendy art takes place). Their purpose seems to be to educate the “Booboisie” (you and me) by producing reams of printed material, all of it meaningless, sometimes only consisting of one deeply important word per page. It aspires to be profound (but even “profundity” has to have content) and there’s very little I (a suburb dwelling naïf) could remotely consider “art.” It’s just a waste of paper as far as I’m concerned.

Meanwhile, I’m holed up in my studio in NoWhere (as opposed to NoHo or NoBro), creating happily away and turning out work that is completely out of synch with the current art scene. I work in artistic isolation but complete contentment. I’m doing the best work of my life and I don’t give a damn about the current trend. 

1 comment:

  1. It has always been the case, that the true artist,doesn't bother or even look
    at what's "in". They really have an EDUCATION, we are all very much influenced by what we learn and how each won of us perceives our surroundings. Painting and sculpture is a visual recording of history.
    Those who express themselves visually, obviously fall into that category. Perception, as well as talent certainly varies. Others express themselves with words, or a combination.
    Individual expressions vary. BUT NO true artist, PAINTS TO PLEASE
    OTHERS, FOR CASH, OR FAME, but only for their own satisfaction. Some make
    it, others don't, or win recognition long after they are dead.

    Why not name a photography gallery at the Diner:



    is affected by our world.