Friday, February 20, 2015


"New Popular Restaurant" 
photocopied drawings mounted on cardboard, 6'x4'
I recently ran into an old friend at an art opening who told me how much he enjoyed reading my blog but how he “didn’t always agree.” “That’s great,” I told him. “I want you to disagree, only please let me know why.” I like it when I get a dialogue going; just remember that if I fail to make my case, it is often in the interest of brevity. I don’t think anyone wants an essay by Meyer Shapiro when they read my blog.

For example, in the post I wrote about artists who base their work on photographs, I neglected to discuss Degas and his reliance on photos; several of my readers picked up on that. Well, the truth it, I did write something about him, but cut it out of the final text which I thought was too long. In a way, he is a perfect case in point: Degas used photos as reference but he didn’t copy them and it’s the copying that deadens artwork. After all, how many geniuses like Turner are there? He was famous for his visual memory (pre photography) and could recall something he saw years later down to the last detail, including the weather.
Note: There’s an interesting movie about Turner currently making the rounds that you might want to see, mainly for the way it shows his technique.

"Gluttony: a Deadly Sin" 
black gesso drawing on cardboard, 6' x 2'6"
Another anonymous “critic” wrote in scolding me for selling art made out of “impermanent materials” such as cardboard. Who says I try to sell anything? Those of you who know me know that you have to literally tear work away from me. If I like something, I want to keep it and if I don’t like it, I wont even give it away. Marketing is not my thing. And besides, so what if the work isn’t permanent, “archivally stable”? Won’t last forever. Will you? Will I? Did Picasso worry about the buyer when he created his cardboard guitars more than a hundred years ago? Does Damien Hirst feel guilty collecting hundreds of thousands of dollars for a shark disintegrating in formaldehyde? Or Banksy for a wall that might be demolished? This is the modern world; nobody is painting  (or building or doing anything) for eternity. There are no Piero della Francesca’s any more and even his work didn’t last forever. Diamonds might last, but not artwork.

black gesso and oil crayon on wrapping paper, 30"x22"
By the way, I love when my readers weigh in, even if it’s to say they disagree, or they don’t like what I am doing. Many years ago, I had an exhibit of my paintings at the old Bruce Museum in Greenwich in the days when it was a musty, dusty Victorian mausoleum. When the exhibit (very German Expressionist stuff) was over and I took the work down, I noticed that someone had placed a note behind one of the stretchers. “I hate your work,” it said. I can’t tell you how pleased I was that someone felt strongly enough to tell me what he thought.


  1. Much to be said for your ideas about permanence/impermanence, the latter inevitable.
    Commendable attitude but I mourn deeply the loss of great works. I thinks acts of preservation in art, architecture, manuscripts, etc, are heroic even if they will all disappear with the whole kit and kaboodle when the earth inevitably disintegrates. So what does it mean to create anything? Well, it's an affirmation of life and being all we can be while we are here. And so it's honest and heroic, as well as ironic that you embrace the inevitable yet have been so instrumental in architectural preservation. Bruce G.

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