Saturday, August 18, 2012


When my perennially ambitious friend David Schoffman announced that he planned to paint the portraits of the entire Estonian Men's Olympic Swim Team, I have to admit I thought that he had lost his already truant mind. Now that the results are in (Gallerie Ziodorno T, San Francisco, Aug. 14 - Sept 19), I am certain that all his considerable critical faculties have taken hasty flight.

Portrait of Mats Lepik, Oil on canvas, David Schoffman 2012

In the Bay Area, the obvious appeal of sprightly tinted images of strapping, square-jawed young men is a given. Equally predictable was the eviscerating critical response.

That Schoffman seems utterly indifferent to the judgement of his peers betrays an acute late career decadence as expressed by the likes of Picasso, Derain, DeKooning and Daudet. With his reputation secure and his market value equally robust, David seems to be making a mockery of the entire enterprise of art-making.

Is this the same David Schoffman responsible for the genre defying tour-de-force "The Body Is His Book?"

Monday, August 13, 2012


The Neo-Dada Los Angeles artist collective Ars Magna Sciendi is an eccentric offshoot of the much larger and much better known European group Pinakothek. The Los Angeles 'organization' (I use that word reservedly and with no small degree of irony) was founded in 2009 by René Besmorg, Ospizio Priuli and my good friend David Schoffman. Together they have published and produced a wide variety of projects, pamphlets, direct actions, exhibitions, demonstrations, provocations, short films, short manifestos, short-lived offshoots and several actual very real living breathing babies.

Their latest exploit is a curious blend of civics, summer and the enduring appeal of French Impressionism. Together with a small group of (unpaid) interns, Schoffman & co. set out to follow the presidential race. From California to New Hampshire the Ars Magna Sciendi group have been shadowing the candidates and their armies of volunteers. 

Going door to door with satchels of art materials, these crazy Dadaists are literally canvasing prospective voters. Their procedure is simple: In exchange for the supplies (six tubes of acrylic paint, an 18 x 24 inch pre-stretched cotton duck canvas and two #12 synthetic hair brushes) participants are asked to paint a landscape in the style of their favorite impressionist imagined as either a Democrat or a Republican

Emma James, Driggs, Idaho. Fifth Street Park through the eyes of Gustave Caillebotte as a Tea Party Republican, 2012

The results are rather astonishing. Schoffman and his collaborators will be continuing the project until the November election. The paintings will be exhibited in the spring of 2013 at the Museé de l'Art Brut in Neuchatel, Switzerland.