Glenn O’Brien

  • Ted Rosenthal

    There are quite a lot of graffiti artists around, many of whom never wrote graffiti, but there aren’t many graffiti sculptors; Ted Rosenthal may be the only one. (Actually there must be two—someone lashed some very nice garbage-bag men to a Cyclone fence down my street once.) The Dominican social club across the street from where I live was bombed once, but the only time I’ve ever seen the bomb squad around here was when they removed a bombish-looking Rosenthal sculpture from the wall next to the large billboard at Broadway and Houston Street. Rosenthal also mounted some large pink Sleet penises

  • Frank Stella

    I’m having a drink with Peter Bömmels, a painter from Cologne, and he says, “Keith Haring is not a painter. He’s a designer.”

    I say, “Well, I don’t know. You could say the same thing about Roy Lichtenstein then.”

    “Yes,” says Bömmels, off and running to a position where Jackson Pollock and Andy Warhol are the only stars in the sky.

    Maybe it’s only painters who really care if someone is a painter or a designer. If Haring and Lichtenstein are designers, it doesn’t necessarily make them lesser artists to me.

    In the ’60s and early ’70s you couldn’t have given me Frank Stella wallpaper. Not because I

  • Jan Müller

    I had never heard of Jan Müller before I saw this show. His paintings are in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney, and the Guggenheim, but apparently they are rarely shown. Müller died in 1958at the age of 35. I couldn’t tell that the 27 paintings here were nearly 30 years old; I was told. They look radiantly new and perfectly alive. All of them date from the last four or five years of Müller’s life, the period in which he produced his best work while living with an experimental plastic heart valve which ticked loudly, like a time bomb.

    Müller was returning from abstraction.

  • Daryl Trivieri

    In her song “Earth Girls Are Easy” Julie Brown sings of her alien lover: “Total grossarama . . . slick as a slug . . . with a shake and bake complexion and eyes like a bug . . . way beyond weird, I wanted out of there quick . . . he was a cross between Flipper and Alan Thicke.” And that’s very much what the main character of Daryl Trivieri’s paintings looks like. Its body is shaped something like a large dill pickle and it is somewhat reminiscent of the monstrous baby in the David Lynch film Eraserhead. It’s a character designed to tread the line between horrid and cute. It’s a sort of amphibious

  • Kenny Scharf

    Kenny Scharf is the true heir of Surrealism; he shows where it went. It went to the movies, particularly to cartoons and the monster and cowboy-and-Indian films. André Breton’s doctrine of blending dream and reality was found to be easier to realize among children; this was found unconsciously, of course—it was an unconspiracy.

    Scharf’s paintings show the powerful connection between Yves Tanguy and Hanna-Barbera, between Joan Miró and the Smurf, between Breton and Cabbage Patch. They show the psychosocial developments that have taken place. There is no beauty in today’s surrealism or in Scharf’s

  • Stefano Castronovo

    Part one of this show was a room full of Mona Lisas, eight of them titled “Devoid 1–8.” Some are medium shots, some are close-ups, some are extreme close-ups. In some of the pictures Mona Lisa is partially obscured, as in the first one, in which her face is half covered with the gold squares that also form a background. In others the image is eroded; in Devoid 8, for example, the face is peeled away with only clues remaining. The image is recognizable only from its context.

    “Devoid” could be translated to mean “from the void,” and these are images from the void of art history, from Leonardo to

  • Phase Two

    Graffiti is the only art movement of the time. It has thousands of practitioners working seriously in defined and evolving styles, and it has transformed the way things look, the way we look at things, and the way we look at art. In a way, graffiti is the first formal revolution in painting since Cubism, and in a way Phase Two is the Marcel Duchamp of graffiti. He may have done more than any other artist to transform and develop styles of graffiti, to paint the word and design the letter.

    Phase Two originated ways of forming letters and composing pieces that were adopted by legions of graffiti

  • Leslie Greene

    To paint abstract is to think big or think small, to get very far away or very close. Once it was a part of all painting; later it was enough on its own. But abstract painting was a problem for abstraction in painting because of its avoidance of content. Even token content made the abstract work easier. The token content was the frame for the real content.

    Leslie Greene’s paintings enrich token content somewhat by choosing an utterly basic subject. Most of her paintings are of overstuffed chairs, often the same chair. The paintings are not about the chair, but the chair is a better ground than

  • Zush

    Zush sounds like a nom de tag, like the signatures that are becoming as familiar to gallery-goers as to subway riders, but Zush is not a graffiti artist from New York, he’s a psychedelic artist from Spain. Apparently he took the name after a mental patient called him “Zush!”.

    Like many mental patients Zush inhabits a world of his own, but he makes sense of that world by recreating it and articulating it in his art—in paintings, drawings, and books. Zush’s world is an imaginary nation, the Evrugo Mental State, for which he has created a flag, currency, postage stamps, an anthem, and a language.

  • David Hockney

    When I first saw this show I thought David Hockney was going more Cubist. I also thought how much his art would be envied by most of the up-and-comings in lower Manhattan; it has everything it is right to have and more. The work is expressively formed, ultracool, wild but pretty, historically prepped. If these paintings were hung down in funky town and signed by an up-and-coming, they would be a sensation. But although they are sensational, they seem less than a sensation because Hockney is a known. Known is out.

    After I saw the show someone told me that the Times had said that Hockney had gone

  • Will Insley

    Will Insley’s world is the product of a remarkably constant, devoted, rigorous imagination. His grand designs are fanciful but severe. His vision is a trip through the looking glass into Alphaville.

    Since 1972 Insley has been developing the concept of “Onecity” and the “Opaque Civilization.” Onecity is a vast conceptual labyrinth, a squared spiral centered in Kansas, an underground complex buried in the same area as those missiles that rose from the plains in The Day After. It would occupy a 675-by-675-mile square; its population would be 400 million. The Opaque Civilization is the hypothetical


    MALCOLM MCLAREN IS A NEW sort of artist, your Barbarian Renaissance Man, the missing link between Leonardo and Conan. He has been the enfant terrible of the fashion world in his collaborations with Vivienne Westwood, and he set the music world on its good ear with his creation, the Sex Pistols. More recently McLaren has been the front man of his own schemes. His first effort as a recording artist, the album Duck Rock (1982), was an international hit as well as an unprecedented global-culture meltdown. The album combined black American street music, hip hop, with such unlikely elements as Cuban

  • Peter Grass

    One of the major trends of 1983, group shows, got even bigger in 1984, spilling out of the galleries and into the nightclubs. It was discovered that most artists have fifty friends to whom they will say “I have an opening” when they have one painting in a show, so one good way to get two thousand thirsty people into a nightclub is to have a rather large group show. I was attending one of these one night at a club called Kamikaze, marveling at how many young artists I don’t know, when one of my companions pointed at some hanging thing and began laughing hard.

    “What is it?”

    “It’s a fake Keith Haring,”

  • Martin Wong

    There’s a lot of talk about Lower East Side art, but Martin Wong makes it. He paints the neighborhood. He captures the dual-edged glamor of the rubble, the love among the ruins.

    This show was titled “Paintings for the Hearing Impaired.” Nearly all the paintings in the show contain sign language of the kind used by the deaf. I never realized that these signs resemble the letters they signify until I saw Wong’s renderings. He draws them as stylized hands emerging from French cuffs, looking like some sort of Assyrian or Phoenician alphabet. Often his sign sentences appear in the night sky over

  • Peter Nadin

    Most painters paint what’s in their head; with Peter Nadin you are always somewhere. He gives you a view; he frames things. In the frames of 19 small paintings he gives us the views at Penistone, in the U.K. Sometimes the view is very narrow, limited visibility, of a bottleneck in a mouth, or of nose and eyes; sometimes there’s a whole figure and some country. Sometimes there’s the long tracking shot: a poplar-lined roadway from the ground, then again from the air.

    You always think about what it is you see, then you think about where it is and therefore where you are (where Nadin was.) The

  • Viola Frey

    I used to own a plate three feet long and shaped like a celery, so I know where Viola Frey is coming from. She has a doctorate in flea market. Her Still Life with Figurines, 1981, a sort of cornucopia out of control, sums up the spirit of 20th-century American ceramics, which has been our last frontier of folk art. But her plates are more than a display of kitsch virtuosity and camp scholarship; they are truly wild and seemingly in cahoots with the gods.

    You think of gods when you stand near her ten bigger-than-life ceramic humanoids. They are like temple deities updated for the rat race. Man in

  • Kim MacConnel

    Kim MacConnel’s work is supposedly about the “issue of decoration.” It is true that if I had been blindfolded, given a sedative, and taken to the gallery, and if the lights had been low and people had been standing around in clusters and music was playing, when the blindfold was taken off, I would probably have been certain that I was at Danceteria or some other new wave nightclub and that it was somewhere between 1981 and 1983, somewhere between 5 and 6 A.M.

    MacConnel’s work is also meant to have something to do with Matisse. It had, maybe, once, but it doesn’t have. Once Matisse and MacConnel


    DAVID McDERMOTT AND PETER McGOUGH are painters who work together. They have been painting in the past for some time and living in the past even longer. Recently they had their first one-team show at the new North Store Gallery in New York. It was a very unusual show entitled “Genuine Meiji Oil Paintings.” All of the paintings were signed 1884. McDermott and McGough look circa 1920. McDermott was living in the early ’30s when I met him ten years ago. He found it preferable to the present in every aspect.

    Recently, with the boom in paintings that are pictures, McDermott and McGough took up painting

  • Melissa Miller

    Melissa Miller deals with camp by transcendentally ignoring its territorial claims and invoking the eminent domain of the true believer. Her paintings often use colors from the campy side of the neo-expressionist spectrum, and her subject matter is often close to that of Paint-By-Number favorites, but her intensity and daring make these similarities purely incidental. Her paintings are beyond campiness of any degree (unconscious, conscious, self-conscious, conscious-unconscious). She dares to be decorative, but not at the expense of her mystical energy and the ferocity of her decorum.


  • Christopher Lucas

    Recently I saw a documentary on PBS about a wonderful tribe in the Amazon which is holding its own against the Brazilians. The tribe knows what’s out there, they know they don’t want it, they are not optimistic about their survival, but they are still here. They hold off death through progress by practicing their rituals, playing their magic flutes, and constructing images of the gods and feeding them.

    The narrator of the documentary said that the gods were angered if their images weren’t fed, and I began wondering about all the unfed gods—their feeders dead, their images fallen into the hands