February 2010 Archives

Sorry to See You Go


It's a sad thing when someone turns out not to be the kind of person you thought they were. You can't really know everyone very well, I suppose, so what happens in my head -- and maybe in most people's heads -- is I get an impression of someone and sort of tab them with it. I like to think I can modify that if I get to know them better, but until I do, I can only work with what I have. Sometimes, unfortunately, what I thought turns out to be wildly wrong.

Take for example Martin Bromirski. I can't say I know Martin. I'm not even sure we've ever met in person. We might've met once way back in 2006 at an art blogger party at Winkleman. I don't remember. Back then I was just getting into blogging about art and there were a handful of art bloggers to keep up with and Martin was one of them. I do know that, in 2007, when John Morris was putting together the Blogger Show, Martin and I ended up with paintings on the same walls. I handled and helped hang his painting, actually. I don't remember if I met him at the opening or not.

From those meager contacts I pegged Martin as a nice guy. I'd see his comments from time to time on other art blogs. A couple of times he was on my side in arguments; one time he came on my own blog and complimented my work. And so on. But over the years I didn't keep up with his blog; he didn't really write anything that interested me that much. Which is fine. So that's where Martin stayed in my head, filed under "nice guy".

Then a little while ago I started criticizing Art Fag City and Paddy Johnson. After picking on her a few times it occurred to me that I was being somewhat unfair: Wasn't it possible lots of other bloggers were saying dopey things? There were a bunch I'd simply stopped reading. So I went back and added a number of people to my regular reading list: Tom, Carolina, Tyler, Hrag, Brent, Thomas, Joy and company, Barry, Chris, Sharon, and of course Martin.

Most of these writers don't post anything I need to comment on, make fun of, or even note. They're doing their own thing, which isn't my thing, and that's what makes the world go round. No big deal. About three weeks ago, though, Martin posted some photos of his latest paintings. And I thought they looked very good. A completely honest, innocent, sincere desire to let him know this welled up inside me. Because artists make art hoping other people will like it. So I did.

Chris Rywalt said...

These look good. A definite step up from previous paintings I've seen from you, but I haven't seen anything in the past couple of years.

Took a good long look to see those are tears in the canvas in the second one, even with the close-up. I'm not sure these need that extra bit.
2/02/2010 1:57 PM

Martin's reply surprised me.

Martin said...

somebody shoot me.
2/02/2010 4:04 PM

I plaintively asked for an explanation but he never replied. Life went on.

Yesterday there was another post at his blog about which I had something to say. Actually, I really wanted to reply to one of the comments, this one by my fun-filled online friend EAG whose blog had been mentioned by Martin.


Thanks for the link.

"shut up or nut up"

I love Zombieland.

I wrote about a third of an essay on Smith's "Post-Minimal to the Max" but it got deleted after I downloaded a virus. Will post a rewritten version soon.

And yes I agree that Saltz's feminism is a pose more than anything else. One should realize that he converses with college age women on a regular basis. Just saying...
2/21/2010 4:30 AM

I wrote a quick comment on that and also added a little about the main post. When I went back a few minutes later to see if anyone had replied I found my comment was gone. I could imagine any number of reasons for this but the most likely one was that Martin had deleted it. Which would be odd. So I asked outright and also rewrote my previous comment. Meanwhile Martin replied. Here's the whole thread before he deleted it.

Chris Rywalt said...

Martin, did you delete my comment?

2/21/2010 2:46 PM

Martin said...

yes. you are a crank and generally don't have any idea what you are talking about (on art). those kinds of comments negate all the effort i put into making this post, keep others from wanting to comment, and provide an excuse to dismiss everything i said.

i will probably delete both of our comments after i think you've seen this. especially if this comment thread starts to become a rywalt/eag thread.

(eag is a crank but he knows what he is talking about)

2/21/2010 2:57 PM

Chris Rywalt said...

Okay, let's try this again.

EAG, that comment about Jerry Saltz's conversing with college-age women is beneath you. However Jerry picks his subjects -- maybe by his chances for slipping in the word "mojo" -- it's probably not for getting into young women's pants.

As far as Roberta's article goes and her dislike for Dumas, I'd say it's because Dumas sucks, except some of Roberta's replacements for her aren't much better.

But I would second her vote for Chris Ofili, who is simply great.

2/21/2010 2:58 PM

Chris Rywalt said...

You put effort into making this post? That's just sad.

2/21/2010 3:02 PM

Martin said...

please just have a stroke already chris.

2/21/2010 3:07 PM

Chris Rywalt said...

I'm sorry if my making fun of your friends' terrible taste in art upset you so much. I expected better of you, but I can't imagine why.

2/21/2010 3:11 PM

I don't know if Martin replied to that and then eventually deleted it because after that I went out and didn't check back in until after one in the morning. It doesn't really matter if he did, though. Because clearly he isn't the nice guy I thought he was. First we have his deleting my comments, not so much because of their content but merely because he decided -- somewhere since 2007, I guess -- that I'm a crank. Which kind of bothers me a bit, because while I'm perfectly willing to be called cranky, I'd rather not be called a crank. Second, I happen to think that deleting other people's comments simply because you want to maintain some illusion of your blog as happy-happy nice-nice land is a mortal sin. And third, just because we have a disagreement over his friends' taste in art, he told me to have a stroke, then deleted the evidence of his own nastiness. Not very nice at all.

It's a damned shame, really.

I'd like to give you a glimpse of my life: I am a troll. I sit in my darkened room, my bloated, hairy form hunched over the keyboard, stabbing out nasty little missives expressing the only emotions I can truly feel: spite, envy, greed, schadenfreude, anger. The closest I get to happiness -- the nearest my clenched little heart comes to brightening -- is when I'm pouring filth and bile on the good, happy, light-hearted people of the world. I am full to bursting with the wine made from sour grapes; I know nothing of pleasantry. I exist only to make others as miserable as myself. I am the barber's cat. I am the wet blanket. I am the Party Pooper.

With that in mind, then, let me discuss today's topic.

Several art blogs announced with smiles that Super Art Couple James Wagner and Barry Hoggard had secured a domain name under which to display their own fantastic collection of art. This is truly wonderful, because now you can see for yourself that James and Barry -- who have set themselves up as art writers and collectors, people you should presumably listen to -- in fact have no taste in art at all.

Actually, their taste isn't bad; it's worse than bad, it's boring. Judging by what's up there now -- they're still adding pieces -- nothing in their collection gives off even a single erg of joy, happiness, inspiration, excitement, fun, creativity, sublimity, or anything else. The work on display runs the gamut from lame through feeble all the way to incompetent, every one with the same gray sheen of a dead toad. Even when there's color -- which there usually isn't -- it's sickly or diseased. This is the collection for people who order egg whites on flatbread for breakfast, people whose lives have become a meaningless slog of going through the motions.

There are a scant few bright spots, however. As of this writing if you go to the listing of artists in the collection you'll see the name of each artist along with the number of works of theirs in the collection; there you can see that Man Bartlett is listed as having 0 works. Curiously, that's precisely how many works by Man Bartlett I'd want to own. But why list him like that? The obvious answer is that his work was deaccessioned but James and Barry brag very specifically that they've "never sold a work of art from their collection and they do not intend to do so". What a relief! My guess is that it's a database hiccup while they're populating their data -- maybe there's a row for Man Bartlett in the ARTIST table but they haven't gotten around to adding his rows in the ARTWORKS table -- but I'd really rather think that, since Man is a performance artist, when he gave a piece to James and Barry, there was no physical item for them to list. On the other hand, maybe they're just going to list every artist from whom they have zero works of art:

Rembrandt van Rijn 0
Andy Warhol 0
Frank Sinatra 0
Hans Holbein the Younger 0
Gilbert & George 0

And so on.

What makes the debut of the Hoggard Wagner Collection so sad and yet so hilarious to sooty-souled creatures of mirthlessness like myself is that it coincides so closely with their presentation on Saturday, February 27, 2010 at 6pm, presumably at Winkleman, titled -- please don't laugh -- "Collecting with Your Eye, Not Your Ears". Which should have a note added that you might be better off buying with your ears if your eye is only as good as that of a 14-year-old diabetic chihuahua.

It's okay, though, since it's pretty much in line with everything else going on in the #class show -- give me a moment here to mock even the name of the show. Because you can tell the organizers were thinking, hey, we need to prove we're hip, we're contemporary, we're in touch with the zeitgeist and down on the street, we're young and fast and zing! So we need to put in some of that tech stuff, and everyone's on Twitter now, so, like, hey Facebook MySpace bit.ly blog dot com and shit! Everything's changing so fast, man, we can't even put in whole words any more! @winkleman dude, wht a grt nme 4 ur show #class! And Ed was all like @dimwits U RAWK LETS DO IT and


Ahem. So Jennifer Dalton and William Powhida, under the aegis of Ed the Visionary, have thrown together a massive collection of self-congratulatory, masturbatory silliness so large I'm guessing they're hoping no one will notice the complete lack of ideas, imagination or quality on display. As Audrey Flack once suggested, if you can't make it good, make it big, and this month-long celebration of inadequate cerebration is certainly that.

In fact the only remotely positive thing about the whole shebang is El Celso's Art Shred, which is just as unimaginative (not to say stupid and pointless) as the rest of the shenanigans but at least, as with Michael Landy's Art Bin, allows me to observe that it's a damned shame we can't run Art Shred (and the rest of #class) through itself.

But no, really, go and have your fun. I'm sure the only reason it all looks so stupid and ugly and pointless is because I'm a cranky troll. Please enjoy your pipe cleaner sculptures and popped balloons. Don't mind me.

Not Forever, Not For Now


Francois Lemoyne, Time Saving Truth from Falsehood and Envy, oil on canvas, 149x113.5cm

François Lemoyne, Time Saving Truth from Falsehood and Envy, oil on canvas, 149x113.5cm (from The Wallace Collection)

In case you heard a loud POOF echoing around the art world recently, that was the sudden deflation and disappearance of the façade of museum curatorial omniscience. In short, someone just admitted they don't know what they're doing.

As reported over at Art Fag City (for once I'm not picking on Paddy!):

The new fifth floor exhibition [at the Whitney Biennial] "Collecting The Biennial" showcases work collected by the museum from the biennials over the years.... [It] provides a good starting point for the biennial discussion, highlighting both good and bad work. "It shows how taste changes," Francesco Bonami explained while gesturing to a gaudy Julian Schnabel painting he says they thought was "forever." "It was not," he concluded succinctly.

Holy crap, I think Frankie just admitted that those clothes the Emperor was wearing a few years back, they might not have been so nice. Now if only he and Gary Carrion-Murayari could generalize this and realize that what they're choosing now is also crap, things might start improving at the Whitney.


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