Monday, April 29, 2013


As most of my readers already know, my native France, glorious Republique, light upon the nations, has just legalized same sex marriage. My personal thoughts on the matter are far from unequivocal. Though I fully support my gay brothers and sisters, I have a deep seated problem with marriage.  Any marriage - same sex, alternate sex, polysex, transubstantiative sex - whatever the configuration, I just don't cotton to the institution in general.

To my good, liberal friend David Schoffman, the issue resides much closer to the bone. David's twin brother Teddy, a Manhattan gynecologist, recently tied the legal knot with his long time partner, the famous Greek painter Zakkai Sophokles.

(from left to right) David Schoffman, Zakkai Sophokles and Dr. Theodore Schoffman
For David this is calamitous.

The inner voices of petty rivalry deafen David's will and leave him raging in a gulf of bottomless despair. His tangled covenant with his fellow artists is fraught with resentment. He compares himself with others and finds himself wanting. He is particularly antagonistic to painters.

Sophokles, to hear David describe him, is a blowhard of the first order. A tall man of average gifts, "the Greek," as David dismissively refers to him has successfully  parleyed a pastische of derivative, third-rate ideas into a respectable international career. 

Erga Kai Hemerai, oil on wood. Zakkai Sophokles, 2010 (Courtesy Danbury Contemporary)

With the diligent help of the D.C. based public relation firm, Ringold, Wringler and Froth (whose clients include Adihd Holbert, the recently disgraced lawmaker from the notorious 5th district of Nevada), Sophokles is packaged as the raucous genius and glittering visionary who parties hard with young, tinseled Hollywood starlets.

Schoffman tries to conceal his viperous envy behind a cloak of fraternal benevolence. His poor brother Teddy, whose practice thrives on fussy middle-aged mommies of New York's upper east side, finds in the Greek the wild exoticism he so sorely lacks.  The truth is, David can't stand seeing his nebbishy brother as a mainstay of the art world's A list.

Dahlia Danton with Dr. Teddy Schoffman at the annual Contemporary Crisis Silent Auction, New York 2012

  I sympathize with David who ever since the wedding has wallowed in a ditch of melancholy and doom.  He has become a hollow stump of inertia, a stagnant pool of lacerating inaction. He is but a third of the man he used to be.

But really, let's be honest ... Teddy and Zakkai do make a pretty cute couple. 

Sunday, April 21, 2013


It may seem unlikely but my good friend David Schoffman was the proud custodian of a highly respectable singing voice. For a time, as a child, he even received professional training from the legendary Austrian voice coach Kira Gammelfleisch. While a student in the 1970's, he earned extra money singing light opera with the New England Chamber Society. He even entertained the possibility of turning professional but saw greater commercial opportunities in painting and drawing.
When I met David over 35 years ago he was the resident tenor in the a capella trio Shirley's Kitchen, a sort of "anti-Ramones" throwback intended as a critical poke at punk rock, the prevailing popular music among artists at that time.
Shirley's Kitchen (from left to right Schoffman, Joey di Sevilla and Armando Khan)
Together with Joey di Sevilla, or Joey D, a childhood friend of David's from the old neighborhood in Brooklyn and Armando Khan who went on to write the outrageous musical theater phenomenon "Khan Khan Boys," Shirley's Kitchen had a small but devoted following.
In 1980 they recorded "The Frolic of your Smile," an EP containing 7 original songs, one of which, "Let's Toss a Bit of Rice," went on to become the theme song of the now forgotten Harold Bisquit Comedy Hour from the Friday night line-up on the old NBC. 

In the land of Serge Gainsbourg and Johnny Hallyday, this would be inconceivable but there appears to be enough middle-aged, sentimental nostalgic interest in some parts of the U.S. to justify a reunion of this pathetic coterie of unembarrassed kitsch peddlers.
Shirley's Kitchen, backstage before their February 14th concert at The Golem Theater, Bakersfield, CA
That Schoffman has taken time off from his painting is an oddity in and of itself. That he is subjecting himself to the indignity of coaxing his parched, raspy voice into spirited reprises of minor hits like "It Ain't Fish I'm A Smellin'," "Baby I Got It ... And So Do You" and " I Have High Regard for Baudrillard But Lost My Nerve With Kierkegaard," is a shameful exercise in childish frivolity, acute narcissism and prolonged adolescence.

I just wonder what kind of deranged groupies these guys attract.  

Saturday, April 20, 2013


Armenian/American poet Dovar Konerivian (1882 - 1937) who may or not be the author of the famous, now lost epic The Yipsilia Trees, was nonetheless a formidable influence on a generation of like minded visionary writers. His 1925 collection of sonnets, The Buried Bird, is a tour-de-force of Petrarchan innovation.

Dovar Konerivian, Oil on canvas, Faun Roberts, 1928
My friend and omnivorous reader, David Schoffman has taken it upon himself to recast the complete works of this difficult writer in paint. In spite of an already bloated docket of commitments, Schoffman could not help but be tempted by an opportunity to revisit in depth this beloved bard.

After an exhaustive search, Baglama Saz, senior archivist of the Jermuk Kanyon Staatsgemäldesammlungen has chosen 70 well-known international artists and assigned each one a small selection of Konerivian's work to interpret visually.  Dal Verach was matched up with the gorgeous sestina The Meeting of Solomon and the Queen of Sheba, Fran Decossa chose the difficult Naked Boys with Poppy Pods and Dahlia Danton, true to form, will struggle with the voluptuously suggestive Vertummus and Pomona.

David Schoffman, another consequence of his (justified) obscurity, was overlooked.

 No matter. Nursing a contemptuous envy and sulking in what appeared to him as a travesty of low-brow misdirection Schoffman has decided to better his colleagues in an act of sheer, compulsive madness. He will apply himself to every single extant poem, including the drafts for the unfinished La Citella Romana.

 Betrothal number 42, David Schoffman, Dovar Konerivian
 As if we needed any more evidence, David Schoffman has once again demonstrated the truth of Andre Breton's famous opening lines from On the Road to San Romano 

La poésie se fait dans un lit comme l'amour
Ses draps défaits sont l'aurore des choses
La poésie se fait dans les bois *

I honestly feel bad for my dear friend David. He lives in a cloud of unrequited devotions. He is sealed in a nonexistent world of superfluous refinement. He is forever burnishing a fossilized ethic of high minded folly. He would truly be better off if read less poetry and watched more television.

 * Poetry is made in bed like love
Its unmade sheets are the dawn of things
Poetry is made in a forest

Wednesday, April 10, 2013


I've been criticized lately for what has been perceived by some as a "fixation" (intérêt excessif) regarding the young art critic and curator Spark Boon. One reader, reminding me of an 'intérêt excessif' of recent American vintage called me a "bully," while another incautious subscriber had me publicly baptized as a "post-modern parvenu," (Journal of the Association of Art Editors,  Where the Meek Minds Dwell, Dorothy Pankaj, Spring 2013/ V. xxvi, No. 1). 
Conté crayon and watercolor on paper, Spark Boon, 2013

I feel that I am forced to respond.

The case of Mr. Boon is an interesting and disturbing one. After earning his masters at CalArts, the prestigious southern Californian powder keg of Delphic convolution, Boon made a minor name for himself curating the now justly forgotten New York exhibition Lyotard in Leotards: Transgender Meta-Narratives in an Age of Mechanical Self-Gratification.
His recently published masters thesis, Châtelet, Pandémie and Foucault and the Decline of Imagery in Post-Colonial France argued eloquently if not ponderously in favor of what he called "an imageless ur-art of perpetual subversion". Now, after meeting my good friend, David Schoffman, Boon has supposedly found religion in of all things, figure drawing. His very public Road to Damascus moment is a self-congratulatory mea culpa of titanic narcissism. 
Pastel on paper, Spark Boon, 2013
 His presumption toward continued legitimacy within the very discourse that he currently mocks is based on a slight and feeble group show at Brooklyn's Launch/Red gallery where he exhibited a few collages based on his studies of artistic anatomy. This type of ironic dodge is precisely why I dismiss both Boon and Schoffman as reactionary, recidivist Romantics clinging to the tired values of beauty and craftsmanship.
The Shoulder Girdle: Front View, mixed media on paper. Spark Boon, 2013 (Courtesy of Launch/Red, New York)

Monday, April 08, 2013


The apprenticeship of Spark Boon was a long and arduous one. Mentored by my pedagogically parsimonious friend David Schoffman, Boon was held at all times at an impregnable distance.

David Schoffman ( l.) and Spark Boon (r.). Location and date unknown

For his part, Boon's fawning obsequiousness verged on pulpy servility. He even took to emulating Schoffman's sartorial quirks and unmistakable speech patterns, complete with Brooklyn accent.  

And yet the young Boon managed to glean from the recalcitrant recluse many valuable ideas - specifically about drawing.

Mixed media on paper, David Schoffman, 2011

 Despite the obvious weaknesses in both character and native ability, the young man did, at times, eclipse the older artist. In his conceptual daring, his technical inventiveness and in the sheer volume and speed of his production, Spark Boon has shown a unique and disarming originality.

Tar and encaustic on prepared birch plywood, Spark Boon, 2013

It seems fairly evident that in Spark Boon the reluctant David Schoffman created a veritable monster.

Wednesday, April 03, 2013


Sometimes what seems at first like the gentle surveillance of a curious fan turns out in the end to be an obsessive invasion of one's privacy. I've had my share of adoring followers, those foolish few who, indifferent to the protocols of socially accepted boundries innocently trespassed the exclusive acres of my intimacy. I've dealt with them all in different but similar ways (typically involving my friend Etienne Mendès-Gratin, préfet de police de Montparnasse). My American colleague David Schoffman has a much greater challenge in the wild, wild west of southern California.

David has a midnight stalker who, though still within the precincts of the relatively harmless, might possibly be upgraded to the category of the unhinged. He/she has within him/her the potential of destroying/upending the very foundation of Schoffman's already crumbling/disintegrating way of life.

Irrationally paranoid, David is terrified of the prospect of some third-rate, trust-funded, near-sighted graduate student stealing his hard-earned ideas. Combine that with an equally consuming fear of enclosed spaces and you have a plausible rationale for Schoffman's peculiar work habits.

You see, he paints only in the middle of the night (generally from 11:30 pm to about 4:30 am). He also keeps his ground level industrial studio door wide open regardless of the weather or the time of year. In this way he avoids the bustle of normal working hours with all its unrewarding disturbances. Put another way, he is able to completely evade reality.

Just imagine his astonishment when photographs like the ones reproduced here started appearing on websites like and Today'

Close-ups with telephoto lenses have already captured David concocting his oil painting glazes with their secret recipes. Hazy snapshots have substantiated the long held rumor that Schoffman uses magazine clippings to access images for his work. We now have documented evidence that he uses tracing paper, projectors, grids and graphite transfer sheets in order to compensate for his faulty draftsmanship. There is now incontrovertible proof that Schoffman's claim that all his materials are first-rate, lightfast, archival and ph neutral is patently false and misleading.

What also comes as a slight revelation is that despite his vehement denials, David's nocturnal routines are not confined to the making of art.