Friday, April 27, 2012


My dear friend David Schoffman has a problem. Unlike me and countless other artists our age, his paintings, (which are no more slight and insignificant than his peers') never really caught on commercially. After countless exhibitions in innumerable galleries he still hasn't found a reliable base of collectors.

Even our hapless mutual acquaintance, Dori Minquand makes a solid living selling his egg tempera portraits of house pets.

So David, to this day, by the sheer misfortune of having to earn a living, is reduced to the indignity of juggling day-jobs with snake-oil schemes in order to make ends meet.

But perhaps the end is near. The now infamous Art History: The Musical video which has been circulating on the internet for the past several years has gone viral! It remains to be seen how Schoffman can translate this into profit but for now, at least, he is a minor celebrity.

I hear he is even dating B-list starlets and anorexic runway models.

Saturday, April 07, 2012


Here in Paris, we are always half a step behind the artworld of New York. I rely upon my good friend David Schoffman to keep me up to date. Usually what he thinks is important is merely some idle, petty gossip but occasionally he comes up with something interesting. The recent publication of "Draw it with your eyes closed: the art of the assignment" by Paper Monument is a case in point.

Maria-Theresien-Platz, Adolf Hitler, watercolor on paper, 1906-07 (private collection)
The premise of this great little book is that the messy enterprise of educating future artists is something much more than the mere transmission of technical skills and conventional rubrics of design and form. There is an ineffable quality, a manner of thinking and interpreting the world that is unique to artists and the best way to transmit this is elliptically.  The editors collected from a wide range of art professors their favorite assignments. Included, for example, are art school staples like: "With ink and a twig between your toes draw oxygen" and "You're a callus on the big toe of a pachyderm - draw the view".

As enchanting and entertaining as the book is, nothing in it comes close to the assignment Micah Carpentier gave to David and I when we were art students at Beaux-arts in the early 70's.

As best as I can remember, it went something like this:

"Adolf Hitler was a failed artist. By an unlikely twist of fate, in 1923, instead of plotting the Hitler-Ludendorff Beer Hall Putsch he decided to apply for an M.F.A. Design his portfolio."

Unfortunately, some members of the faculty found the assignment somewhat offensive and Carpentier was summarily fired as a result. He moved back to Havana and shortly thereafter was killed under extremely suspicious circumstances.