Saturday, September 21, 2013


There's more than a touch of madness in the character and in the work of my dear friend David Schoffman. That he labors for many many years on the same small paintings is evidence enough of a slight imbalance. That these very same paintings show absolutely no sign of progress despite his slow, methodical tinkering only strengthens my impression. 

 Traditionally, we think of our great artists as slightly unhinged though in fairness, Schoffman's debility is neither slight nor is his artistic vision particularly great. He is essentially of average competence, of limited ingenuity and is rather mannered and predictable in his eccentricities. 

What he does have is a fancy German magnifying glass. This contraption is so powerful you can see the dandruff fly off the scalp of a tick. He also has an army of small kolinsky horse-hair brushes. They're fashioned with only a handful of bristles but when their tips come to a point you can use them to hijack a plane.

Untitled unfinished oil on canvas, David Schoffman 2006 - present
But what my friend has most of all, the one reliable quality that he leans on like a bus shelter is what we call in French la contrainte d'un assassin or the patient constancy of a killer. David shrewdly lies in wait and with calculated perseverance and a lenient sense of his own mortality he hovers over tiny details, luring his pictures into a state of menial, minute, fetishistic obsession.

What a miserable, futile and embarrassing waste of time!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013


For some reason, my good friend David Schoffman operates under the convenient illusion that if he trots out his undeniably impressive credentials the art-loving public will overlook the flimsiness of his work. The fact that his paintings are included within the collections of countless august institutions is only a sad reflection on the credulity of the curatorial class. He thinks that the splendid tally of fellowships and grants, long enough to fill a Qumran scroll, obscures the shamelessly derivative approach he takes to picture making.

For a glaring example, let's take Schoffman's portentously titled oil on canvas  The Plague Full Swift.

The Plague Full Swift, oil on canvas, David Schoffman, 2009 (Courtesy of the Musée de la Calomnie, Dunkerque)

This harmless little bauble, gaudily pigmented with lapidary azure blues, tropical greens and sanguinary reds lustily rusted to a dissonant crisp is nothing but an over-worked refry of the 1964 grisaille masterpiece of Micah Carpentier.

Cuánta Sombra en mi Alma, oil on plywood, Micah Carpentier, 1964 (courtesy of the Micah Carpentier Foundation, Madrid)

That Schoffman shows no remorse in his piracy, no anguish in his flagrantly unattributed looting of the great Cuban master's imagery and legacy is but one more signal of the utter demise of artistic decency and virtue. 

Hiding behind the tattered veil of post-modernism, Schoffman's poverty of imagination, tethered as it is to his professional success, is justified and even lauded by the critics as a conceptual triumph.  

May my dear friend be inscribed in the Book of Grifters & Frauds, Charlatans & Double-Dealers .... Amen

Thursday, September 05, 2013

2.025: IT IS FORM AND CONTENT (L.W. Like!)

By now it's a tired cliché to talk about the waning of our collective attention span. To state that electronic gadgets and devices have infantilized us into driveling philistines is not a particularly original observation. 

 My beloved France is currently awash in mindless high tech applications promoting greater efficiency and wiser time management. The fact that they produce the exact opposite result has escaped no one. But if France is crazy about technology then the U.S. is a raving psychopath at a dopamine festival.  I'm no de Tocqueville but on my last trip to the U.S. I found the change in the American character quite breathtaking, especially among its many gifted visual artists.

Which brings me to my distracted colleague David Schoffman. He is a profoundly changed man. 

This former serious and high-minded artist has become an indentured servant to the tiny screens and chirping ear buds that have come to dominate our imaginative landscape.

It's not his over-saturated Instagram close-ups of hummingbirds and azaleas that bother me so much nor is it his obsessive consultation of the Twitter feed of someone who goes by the name "shelonglegs." I know plenty of well-meaning, reasonable and intelligent people who do the same sort of thing. Even his unflappable devotion to Facebook with all its panegyric flatteries and trivial encomiums doesn't bother me all that much.  

I suppose what I find most galling and exasperating is the slow gradual dissolution of the vital character of David's once formidable intellect. 

Right before I left Los Angeles I caught my dear friend giddy and transfixed as he watched a short video of zoo lions masturbating to Mozart.

I suppose anything is better than adorable kittens.


Sunday, September 01, 2013


It would foolish to pretend that a life spent staring at unfinished canvases coldly confronting one's glaring inadequacies on a daily basis would be a life void of anxiety or stress. 

For well over a decade my dear friend David Schoffman has been laboring like a serf on a series of works whose ultimate resolution has been as elusive as a sperm whale. Every attempt, every botched opportunity, every missed metaphor has etched a line deep into David's dented temple. Every failure of form, every misdirected shape has sewn another wrinkle around my good friend's milky blue eyes.

He is not broken but he is aged, his hair, white as laundry soap, has thinned into fine meek meadows of downy dander.

Schoffman in front of the still unfinished painting The Covenant of Otto (left: 1999, right: 2013)
Some say he has gone slightly mad. As evidence they cite his forgetfulness, his sudden flights of dreamy inattention and his sloppy, frivolous and amateurish drawings.

Gone is his stridency, his vinegary wit and his eloquent, dinner party disquisitions delivered extempore under the spell of excessive spirits. David is now diminished, even dull, slowed by the solvent vapors of his studio, a toxic cocktail of turpentine, cadmium and lead. His former effulgence has been replaced by a mild composure and a disinterested complacency.

And so The Body Is His Book: One-Hundred Paintings remains unfinished and David's draining energy is absorbed more and more by crossword puzzles, the dog park and his silly little watercolors.

The competitive side of me rejoices in David's inactivity. Of all my contemporaries it has always been Schoffman who represented the only palpable threat to my dominance. Together with me and a couple of other hardened art world veterans we have occupied the thin, brittle peak of critical preeminence reducing our colleagues to virtual insignificance. And now that Schoffman has been laid low by fatigue and infirmity I'd be lying if I claimed to be sorry.

But David Schoffman is a cunning little bastard.

 Could all this be nothing but a diabolical ploy?