Monday, May 26, 2014


Glamorous, articulate and almost always controversial, my dear friend David Schoffman has always given great interviews.

Starting in the 1970's with his notorious tête-à-tête with Le Monde's Sascha Izit all the way to last year's ridiculously candid entretien with Dahlia Danton of The Harps of Heaven, Schoffman is reliably prepared to stir the broth with his unique blend of amiable quips and contentiously divisive insights.

Few followers of the art world's inside game will forget David's appearance on the Mick Teagling Show where in a bright orange shirt and burgendy scrubs he jumped on the studio couch and started chanting wildly "Je suis Ubu Roi, Je suis Ubu Roi."

Equally memorable (or lamentably indelible) was his interview with the late Canadian poet Guido  Cezzho. Published in the Sunday Supplement of Montréal Philologique David apparently answered every single question (according to Cezzho they spoke for nearly four hours) in a falsetto voice using a sock puppet.  

Now, if Schoffman is to be believed, all those antics are over. As a result of his recently becoming a paid spokesperson for Noitanbreh, a Los Angeles urban clothing line featuring bright, colorful t-shirts, rugged basketball jerseys and sensible yet savage looking bucket hatshe is contractually obligated to tame his public persona.

Now that's a scary prospect ...

Thursday, May 22, 2014


Long before the painting, decades before his first exhibition, ages before that faint, frisky glimmer of genius began to manifest itself and spoil any chance for a serene and contented life, my good friend David Schoffman had dreams of becoming a professional athlete. As an urban New Yorker of the Mosaic tradition, exotic activities like soccer and baseball were almost completely unavailable - the largest expanse of green in his neighborhood in Brooklyn was the astroturfed litterbox of his aunt Shoshana's Balinese - so like all good Israelites he chose basketball.

And bowling.

Bowling, as anyone who has tried it can tell you, is the closest thing the Americans have to Zen Buddhism. Once one becomes adequately proficient, all that is further required is the achievement of complete and total detachment. Theoretically, if you can roll one strike you can roll a dozen more since the variables remain numbingly consistent. 

All that stands in the way of perfect mastery are the bustling synapses of the modern mind. 

David's passion for pins was so vehement and his aspiration toward perfect esho funi (the Dharma of disciplined disengagement) so extreme that he moved to Shiraoi in northern Japan to study zazen or what we call in French, méditation assise. 

After three years he still couldn't properly position his ankles for a decent Burmese lotus-squat so he threw in his toga, turned over his bowl and returned with his stubborn 148 average to Sid's Seventeen Lanes on Whitestone Expressway in Flushing.

A couple of sprained wrists and a herniated lumbar convinced my friend David to hang up his slippers and give the low physical impact of painting and drawing a try.

The rest, of course, is contemporary art history and though he probably couldn't manage a 5-7-10 split anymore he can still deliver a decent Theravada Metta Sutta.

As long as he doesn't have to sit on the floor.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014


Long before the name David Schoffman became common currency among the hep downtown intelligentsia, before owning a Schoffman was the necessary credential for cosmopolites aspiring toward high-gloss urbanity,  before 'understanding' Schoffman was a prerequisite for admission to the boutique graduate programs east of the Mississsppi there was the painter David Schoffman who labored quietly in his studio producing solidly hermetic abstract paintings snugly situated within the delectus of late-20th century formalism.

Riding a Pig he Tilts Toward the Sun, oil on wood, David Schoffman 1986
Those fortunate few who purchased these rugged, muscular oils bought them not for a song but for a jingle. David was waiting tables and living hand-to-mouth and the works he sold were priced to move.
Now, of course, the pendulum swings to a more favorable tempo - at least for Schoffman. While the paint is still oily and wet his pictures are rushed out the door by his private army of impish assistants. Pre-printed packing labels addressed to every compass-point are conspicuously piled in stacks leaving his visitors no doubt as to the folly of any dithering indecision.

He's a huckster now, brokering his reputation with an adroit instinct for calculated risk. He periodically shifts styles, withholds works, claims scarcities and orchestrates scandals typically involving much younger women.
Miraculously the cards still fall in his favor despite the indolent and perfunctory nature of his newest work. He can do no wrong in this changed world where quality and value have severed their connection like bickering siblings.
I miss the old David.
 Though I can do without the Noam Chomsky haircut.

Tuesday, May 06, 2014


Lovable and witty, my good friend David Schoffman is a world-class neurotic. Spend any amount of time with him and you'll hear a cross-current of competing theories on how to avoid illness.

 His latest scourge is the cell-phone which he insists is the cause of the recent rise in autism and childhood diabetes.

Next on his list is gluten, though I don't think we have any of that here in France.

He won't vaccinate his kids because he thinks it will hurt their reading scores and he never lets them near a computer for fear the EMF emissions will radiate their eyeballs.

He still paints in oils but won't use cadmiums, which is good news because he was always a better colorist than me and instead of turpentine he uses resins derived naturally from the roots of Japanese ginko trees which he grows himself in his hydroponic garden.

His nuttiest nemesis is the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. According to David, the ubiquity of power lines cross-hatching the sprawling city like slackened rope, pose the imminent threat of excess exposure to dangerous Radio Frequency fallout. This in turn can result in Alzhiemer's, miscarrisges and irritable bowel disorder and Schoffman is not about to take any chances.

He's thinking of moving to the desert to a place called Twentynine Palms. 

I'm not sure if he knows yet about the Leo Durocher Nuclear Waste Repository that's 25 miles away.