|60x40 oil on canvas|
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.