Saturday, December 24, 2011


My dear, articulate friend David Schoffman has started something of a cottage industry, traveling around Latin America and the United States delivering lectures on Micah Carpentier. I find it somewhat disconcerting that not only has he converted the memory of our beloved comrade into a piddling revenue stream but he has also decided to apply a bit of revisionist art history into the mix.

from The Song of Degrees, Micah Carpentier 1992
 I don't recall ever hearing David criticize Micah's work when Carpentier was alive. Quite the contrary. He was more of an apple polishing groupie, a fawning bootlicker, a groveling flunky, maybe even a bit of a doting yes-man. 

Never critical.

The clip below strikes me as being a bit odd. Recorded recently at Gerstein Hall in downtown Seattle, Schoffman begins his talk with a bit of gentle belligerence. I'm told by a few colleagues who were in attendance that what followed was 55 minutes of uninterrupted bile.

  Micah Carpentier Lecture, Gerstein Hall, Seattle, 2011 (fragment) by dschoffman 

Micah Carpentier

Micah Carpentier Retrospective, Musée  d'Art Contemporain, Côte-Nord

Micah Carpentier

Wednesday, December 21, 2011


The capacious intellect of my dear friend David Schoffman is only matched by his infinite insecurities. How little he has developed both emotionally and stylistically is in full evidence with the recent publication of Behind The Grey Tail, a heavily redacted collection of David's private journals.

"Diaries," wrote the Slavic poet Rada Mladen, "are the last refuge of the ignored," and I can think of no better description of these 756 monotonous pages of self-absorbed reflection. Schoffman's "insights" give new meaning to the word ordinary. His flat, tedious prose present a near insurmountable obstacle to even the most assiduous reader. 

The only thing that kept me plowing through this turbid text were the many (I believe there are over 500) references to me.

Here are a few examples:

November 11, 1986. Paris
A low wind whispers near ... Currado and I have just returned from a short sojourn in Istanbul. I crumble under his shadow ... the littering leaves of autumn turn the sounds of Paris into a fanfare of snare drum and cymbal. Currado speaks eloquently of Gide ... I scarcely understand.

March 21, 1990. New York
Malaspina's triumph is my collapse. I am annihilated, ruined, silenced by his swaggering domination of the New York artworld. Danto, Smith, Kimmelman, Perl, Kramer, Hickey - they are all falling over themselves singing panegyric homilies, tossing perfumed bouquets at an already bumptious braggart. I can't stand it!!!!

June 1, 1992. Rome
It seems the Malaspina name still has some currency here. It got us a terrific table at La Pergola where the seared tuna with friggitelli is absolutely amazing! 

Only the most devoted Schoffman fans (are there any left?) need explore this book. Save your shekel and wait till the movie comes out. No kidding! The rights were just sold to Crepuscular Pictures for a whopping six figures with serious talk of Dee Martenelli playing the lead.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011


The Gasp of Love in Terza Rima, a tawdry exhibition I agreed to participate in with my vain and sensitive friend David Schoffman was a bit of a succès de scandale.

I'm afraid David felt a bit slighted by the critical community because ... I suppose ... 

I upstaged him.

Tant pis!


Saturday, December 03, 2011


What do you call a counterfeit forgery?

Tucked like a kitten in a woolsack, a strange fourteenth century document was discovered in 1983 in a dank neglected corner of the St. Vitruvius Monestary in Vitebsk. What became known later as the Herbraidian Manuscript is perhaps the oddest and most beautiful Hebrew text in the Ashkenazi world.

from The Hebraidian Manuscript, circa 1311, Courtesy of the Budapest National Archives

The authenticity of the document has been questioned for years, most recently by professor Ivan MacKaulski of Bar Ilan. In his essay The Hebraidian Hoax published last month in the Heartfelt Institute's highly regarded periodical Bididut he cites, among other things, the peculiar floral pattern which, though commonly used by Tuscan scribes in illuminated haggadot and ketubot, are rarely seen before the early 1600's. Additionally, the text, which appears to be some sort of legal contract, is written in the Havineri script, a typography popular in Bukhara and Cochin but never before seen in western Europe.

Truth be told, outside a small circle of pointy-headed intellectuals, nobody knows, much less cares about any of this obscure, hermetic Judaic scholarship. Which brings up the subject of my sneaky, sneaky friend, David Schoffman.

Schoffman is known and in fact prides himself on his uncanny ability to invent novel compositional devices using an encyclopedic reservoir of deeply original imagery. To quote Francis Peterson-Post, Dandridge-Oxford professor of Art History at Emory University, "Schoffman ... creates out of whole cloth a catalog of icons and simulacrum that never borrow, import or repeat. He alone, in the tradition of Blake, Beckett and Basnique, is an island of aberrant inventiveness and singular ingenuity."

I hate to hurl cold water over this harmless myth but the painting reproduced below, a 2004 oil on canvas by David Schoffman which was exhibited at MOCA's Sublime Particular exhibition (curated by Peterson-Post and Stephanie Borastow-Kahn) is much more than a direct descendant of the Hebraidian masterpiece/forgery.

The Wrinkled Lip of Kings, David Schoffman 2004, oil on canvas 145" x 138"

The image speaks for itself but unfortunately the liberal borrowings do not end there. Schoffman's famous Bartholomew Diptych, the massive mosaic commissioned by Grenoble International is practically a carbon copy of Batsu's Rekishi Parchment in the Okazaki Temple. At least in that instance Schoffman had the decency to cover his tracks and make his work en grisaille. Danton Was Right, the series of twelve lithographs published by the Académie Bibliothèque in 2000 was a brazen appropriation of the illustrations of Canadian artist Kaniuk Foreman.

The list goes on and on. 

David Schoffman ... J'accuse!!