Rene Ricard

  • Rene Ricard

    Jack Smith always wanted to be a fashion photographer. None of his fashion photos have surfaced. Of course his best stills are like fashion shots—but fashion shots from another civilization. It’s not as though Jack failed at becoming a fashion photographer for want of trying. He claimed to have actually brought his portfolio to art directors’ offices.

    “Then they always say the same thing—casually: ‘Leave your portfolio over the weekend.’ They might as well just keep the portfolio because when they do return it it’s been raped, stripped of every idea.”

    I suppose this could be a brutal dilemma. For


    I’VE BEEN TOLD THAT FELIX’S paintings look like ’50s toilet-paper ads, so let’s say that Felix is one of the Delsey School. When propagandizing a painter’s work the simplest expedient is to preempt possible criticism by inverting it into a positive quality. If a work will be attacked as too much like postwar commercial art, simply state that postwar commercial art was great, embodied all future myth, and then trace recent painting from it: David Bowes, Samantha McEwen, Felix, and the rest of the Delsey School. Because something resembles another thing doesn’t make it that thing.

    But in truth,

  • An Art of Regret

    QUITE A WHILE AGO I wrote a long article on the work of Brice Marden that for various reasons never got beyond a third draft, and was never published. The Marden was to be my first long piece and presented multiple difficulties, not the least of which was that in 1972 John Ashbery had written an important and beautiful essay, “Gray Eminence,” that established a critical vocabulary for his work. Not only would I have to come up with a different scheme, something that would perhaps surpass the Ashbery, but I was dealing with an artist whose work seemed by its self-determined limits to preclude

  • Caravaggio and His Models

    Caravaggio and His Models

    He was no good; he was too young; but he was mine,
    Stiff as new jeans and I loved the punk.
    The night is a museum of living boys
    All of them surly and taciturn with pestilential looks
    That beg to get slapped around, the snarl demanding
    You abstract the puppy from the beast and train him
    To be your pet. Some are just mean.
    But they all want to get hurt. proof that . . .
    How did I get roped into this? A beaten boy
    Is touching as the thick stupid feet of a pudgy
    Marine with an uncircumcised half-hard
    Staring out in disbelief from a physique magazine.
    Boy with a ram. How


    There’s a foreign legion of women, too. But we have no uniforms—no flags—and no medals when we are brave.
    —Marlene Dietrich in Morocco.

    THE CONSPIRACY OF EXCELLENCE is a federation of eyes. There is an intimate surveillance, and one’s behavior, one’s merest gesture, too much muscle, the wrong shade of lipstick, a casual word, influences and can ruin the campaign of a lifetime.

    In society culture is a matter of individuals. One must never make the blunder of mistaking someone at the center for someone at the periphery. One must have the sense of the moment, and the real story, the truth if you


    I REMEMBER THE FIRST Tags (where is Taki?), Breaking (where you spin on your head), Rapping (where I first heard it). I know the names, but are the names important? Where is Taki? Perhaps because I have seen graffiti, then seen something else, thrown myself on the dance floor, then gone on to dance another way, I say that the reason for abandoning so much during the ’70s was that each fad became an institution. What we can finally see from the ’70s buried among the revivals and now surfacing (Tagging, Breaking, Rapping) was at least one academy without program. Distinct to the ’70s, graffiti,

  • Not about Julian Schnabel

    SOMETIMES ONE WOULD LIKE TO form a consortium of opinion amongst one’s friends to define a monopoly of values that pictures could be referred to. Everybody has their own angle though and no sooner is there a sense of fellowship and community than there’s an immediate rift. Judy Rifka told me the other day that she feels a great new spirit of picture-making. This is not unique to her. I sense the zeitgeist along with everyone else but it has become increasingly difficult for me to write because writing about pictures is a foul business and so I haven’t in over a year, when there was so much to