Just Brag, Would'ya?

But here is my most important principle of marketing: Each person who owns my work is my “agent”.  I usually tell purchasers that I expect them to be an “agent”, that they should show my work proudly, and I want them to brag about it. I want to be informed if they no longer have that pride.
THAT COMMENT FROM EVAN LINDQUIST (b. 1936) was posted recently on an artist’s listserve. It was offered in good faith by one artist to others as a mitzvah, marketing wisdom worth following. Continue Reading
Cubism and Genius Worship

ART CAN NEVER BE A SCIENCE. Its claims are not falsifiable. There is no hard data on which to resolve disputes about what, when all boils down, are matters of taste. Yet the urge to gild art with the luster of science keep bubbling to the surface. John Silber’s Architecture of the Absurd sets the blame for this squarely in the lap of Sigfried Giedion (d, 1968), a Swiss art historian, architecture critic, and champion of modernism. Since it was published in 1941, Giedion’s classic study Space, Time and Architecture has been required reading for students of  modern architecture. Continue Reading
Art and Architecture of the Absurd

DISMAY OVER THE DISFIGUREMENT of an artist’s training by pretenses to metaphysical depth and invented meanings—call it skywriting—sent me to the library. What for? Not exactly sure. Anything to clear the palette, really. A good mystery would have done the job. But I had to pass down the architecture aisle to get to pulp fiction. John Silber’s Architecture of the Absurd caught my eye. So did its delicious subtitle: How “Genius” Disfigured a Practical Art. It is a contentious book that earned Silber the title of Architecture Crank in 2007, the year it went to press. Continue Reading
The Pathos of the MFA, part II

IT WAS BARNETT NEWMAN, I think, who said: “Aesthetics is for art what ornithology is for the birds.” That is a gravelly way of getting to the point that philosophies of art are written for philosophers. Artists are not the intended beneficiaries. They need not approve and can easily cripple themselves if they try. Yet MFA programs still insist on cudgeling artists with syllabi soaked in a jumble of philosophy, art theory and aesthetics. Much of it clusters around the concerns of literary theorists. Continue Reading
The Pathos of the MFA, part I

I RECEIVED THE OFFER OF A TEACHING JOB, accepted it, and resigned all in the same day. Yesterday, I opened my computer to find an invitation to teach a graduate class called Art and Culture in a New York art school’s MFA program. It meant leading a weekly 90-minute seminar on assigned readings and attending, together with students, guest lectures by artists chosen by the department. Sounded good. The opportunity to guide and play devil’s advocate to young artists in their twenties and thirties who are committed to painting the figure appealed to me. Continue Reading