Tuesday, August 25, 2015


It's easy for the tepid to be idolatrous. For the moderately talented and the under-ambitious deferring to another's achievements is as easy as breathing.

The pale appeal of third-party genius is a coward's escutcheon against failure. For all his gifts, my good friend David Schoffman lacks the most vital one.


Nowhere is his surrender more evident than in his groundless veneration of the Los Angeles artist Dahlia Danton.

Staunch in his sincerity he's been blind to her every flaw. But even the most ludicrous forms of lionization have their bitter limits and as everyone knows, the flip-side of reverence is revulsion.

But the disgust has a unique tinge to it for its object is rarely its cause. Lashing out at one's hero is merely a reflection of what psychologists call "fawning fatigue" - the abject exhaustion that comes from relentless and baseless unconditional love.

In an embarrassing display of mousy indecision David recently recanted a glowing encomium published in the online arts journal The Harps of Heaven. Without referring to her explicitly by name Schoffman described a "certain type of artist who under the pretense of stanching the aesthetic lesions of modernism, creates a fantasy of prettified pretentiousness full of frolicking figures concealed in an idyll of reactionary formalism."

Dahlia Danton 2014

 The reference was clear. 

Going so far as to refer to "artists of this sort" as "hypocrites", Schoffman was throwing the gauntlet of open revolt.

The entire spectacle has been unseemly and for those of us who are intimate with both David and Danton the social and intellectual barricades have been aggressively drawn. You are either with the one or you're against the other which makes attending a Los Angeles art opening particularly awkward.

Lucky for me I'm in France where the only object of unqualified veneration is the sacred month of August.

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