• View of “Paul Thek: A Procession in Honor of Aesthetic Progress: Objects to Theoretically Wear, Carry, Pull or Wave,” Galerie M. E. Thelen, Essen, West Germany, 1968.



    I MOVED TO NEW YORK CITY in late 1966 with drawings of light pieces that I dreamed up while waiting at a taxi stand in Boston for someone to jump into my cab. Many people were doing sheet-metal stuff on the Bowery, and I, too, had a little sheet-metal thing that I needed for a light piece (which eventually sold to Kasper König). Well, no one, it seemed, would do the job because it was so small they didn’t want to bother. Finally someone says, “Such-and-such Bowery, second floor, Mr. Biederman.”

    Sigmund Biederman, age 78–84, was the kind of person who made New York great. “Sure, kid,


    I am not a writer. I am a painter. I can call a painting a “painting,” but I don’t really know about “literature” by artists. On the other hand, this magazine is called Artforum, so I’m in the forum, and I’ve got my toga on, and I’m ready to roll. . . Since an artist’s work and the ideas behind it usually come to the public via labels that do not speak the language of the creative process, perhaps an artist can be the best conduit for another artist’s ideas. This new series of visits between artists could give voice to ideas without becoming enslaved by formal, academic, or journalistic shopping lists. These are not the terms in which artists work, live, think, or talk to each other, and many times that’s how the story is missed. We work and talk in “real” terms: somewhere between “Where do you get that great ga-gagooey oil stick” and the desire to defy labels and to get on with the work.

    When Neil Jenney first presented his “Bad Paintings,” in the late ’60s, they were grouped under the annoying label “Funk Art,” primarily because of their look. We would never have understood Jenney’s intent without his own insistence that he was thinking of himself as part of an American realist tradition that stretches from the Hudson River School to Andy Warhol.

    Neil Jenney: I was stuck in a historical corner called “Funk Art,” which was a real entity in the ’60s, but the foundation of my contemporary expression was in abstract art. In those days hard edge was still far out. The New York School


    The beautiful new House on 53rd Street is currently featuring an intriguing survey of works by Henri Rousseau,1844–1910.

    All Art has Style. . . . . . . .
    The Question is Validity.

    ROUSSEAU’S INCLUSION WITHIN THESE walls is of special import, when one considers that his esthetic solutions promote little of the expected Reductionist or Freudianesque dogma that is academically used to explain the Works of the Modern Age.

    This guy’s stuff just doesn’t fit in. But the fact is that his style is far more timeless and transcultural than mere Modern Art. Naives appear in all ages and cultures,