PRINT Summer 1981

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 be said.

When I wrote about Julian Schnabel’s last show at the Mary Boone Gallery for Art in America, I became so embroiled in a distasteful episode with the gallery concerning my request for an exclusive on the picture I wanted to use as an illustration that I vowed never to cover any painter represented by that gallery. I ignored Stephen Mueller’s last show there and I really wanted to write about it. Now Julian has ascended to Leo Castelli—though he’s splitting the bill with Boone—and I can leave personal feelings out of the picture, where they belong. Anyway, my responsibility is not to the painter, the dealer or myself: it is to the pictures.

Nor was this the only treachery perpetrated by a dealer. I wanted to know how much a drawing Brice Marden had given me was worth. That very day the person I’d asked (not at his current gallery) told Brice’s best friend that I was selling his drawing. Next time I saw Brice the first thing he said was, “I hear you’re selling my drawing!” As a point of fact I’d never part with it. I just wanted to know how much it was worth. For someone of my generation the possession of a Marden drawing is a big thing. I call it my de Kooning and I have a de Kooning.

I’ve been offered bribes by dealers and artists and never took the bait. It drives me mad. Some of them think I can utter the shibboleth, the tetragrammaton of specie-coinage, the new the post the neo-ism to fit everything into place and send the collectors running to the gallery their pockets turned inside out. I have no interest in establishing a school. My little reviews in Art in America were love poems. It’s all in my eyes. I have a flair for the obvious. That’s all. I don’t even “discover” artists. The credit for inventing Julian Schnabel goes to Edit DeAk, if anyone, not me. She wrote about him in 1975. And she’s the one who wrote about Francesco Clemente. Art writing seems to me mostly a palimpsest of one neologism superimposed on another. I never could figure out what formalism meant. I know who the artists are but I don’t know what it means. The only one of these terms that I found apropos in the sense that it caught the work and not some forced critical hypothesizing was Peter Schjeldahl’s “Cutism” applied to Alexis Smith. One doesn’t want to hurt an artist, but really, one has a bit of a duty to eradicate the mediocre. Children should never be encouraged to be creative.

I remember, when my poems were coming out, I passed by the Holly Solomon Gallery on West Broadway and told her that I was on my way to Xerox the manuscript. She offered me the use of her machine and said how great my poems were and could she have a copy. I asked her, if she liked my work so much why didn’t she hang some posters in the gallery to coincide with the publication. She said that it wouldn’t be right because I am an art critic. In l’esprit de l’escalier I replied so were Bob Smithson, Ad Reinhardt and Fairfield Porter but nobody ever mentioned a conflict of interest there. In point of fact I’m not an art critic. I’m an enthusiast. I like to drum up interest in artists who have somehow inspired me to be able to say something about their work. It’s simple as that. I don’t write for the sadistic pleasure of contemplating how some slug of an artist will shrivel up as I sprinkle the salt of scorn upon them. The bare idea of such cookery gives me the horrors.

For instance a friend of mine, even before he ever had a show, was given full press treatment in a popular magazine by no less a personage than John Ashbery. It was a fairly noncommittal report that seemed to’ve been written for extra-artistic reasons, and to me seemed, so faint was the praise and so coyly epithetical the style, scathing. That notwithstanding, so great is the prestige enjoyed by this writer and so small the comprehension of the public that the show, I am pleased to say, was bought out at the opening. However, my friend wasn’t satisfied. He wanted the added prestige of a Rene Ricard encomium. It is possible to like an artist and not like the work and conversely one can be mad for the work and not give two shits for the person who made it. As far as I’m concerned Sandro Chia is in the latter category and my friend is in the former. And furthermore, to be quite clear in this, one’s fealty must lie with the latter—such is the responsibility of a . . . me. Of course I never wrote about him and relations became strained as you can imagine, to the point where he made unbelievable trouble for me and deserves to be stung nettlelike with wit. My boy scout temperament though is such that now, feeling as I do, I would never write about him because I’d have to, in truth, explain all this bias and would still come up with a word-picture unjustly tinged. Never trust anyone who says they’re telling the truth.

This artist does, while I’m thinking about it, offer a chance to explain something that I think is important and that is the use of pictures. The cult of the masterpiece, while it simplifies our understanding of the past, misses the point.

We seem to look on art history as a succession of masterpieces that mark points of progress and cast shadows obliterating other work of the time, altering all future art. This is the fallacy of art history. Everything that was ever done is still being done. No style no medium however decadent or obsolete is ever discarded. While the teenage Caravaggio was painting his epoch-making still lifes literally in the marketplace, selling them like the produce they represent, artists all over Italy were still cranking out Byzantine Madonnas. Look around. Not only can you buy a Julian Schnabel but you can get Egyptian repros and Robert Douglas Hunter still lifes of Bennington pots with dried plants and other atavisms too gruesome to contemplate. The eye becomes inured and just stops seeing certain things out of self-defense, missing new things at first view. Sandro Chia’s recent show was all about masterpiece: the unforgettable image of a woman farting music. It looks like a museum postcard you’ve already bought. The idea of masterpiece is distinct, to me, from the urge to possess. I can sometimes recognize a masterpiece but would I want it? Often yes but not always. Then again there is art that precludes its being a masterpiece—like Piero Manzoni, whom I adore. And turning once more, there are pictures one would like to have that one recognizes as junk but which fulfill a spiritual, stylish, emotional, decorative, status, puerile, selfish, financial, temporary, iconoclastic, amusing, sentimental and/or perverse need. Sometimes you just want to test your capacity for ugliness. I do it all the time. There is much to be said about a Madonna by Dolci. Which brings us the long way back to my friend the artist I spoke of before. The one with (and without) the review. I actually like his work. I almost bought one once even though he is the Ernest Trova of the ’80s. It’s full of truncated columns and puzzling neoclassical allusions and twisted torsos and stage lighting: not great art but current (When Baudelaire held Constantin Guys up as the painter of modern life I wonder if he really meant that Guys was such a great artist or if rather he thought that modern life was a great thing to paint. I think Baudelaire invented the idea of modern as we know it as a reaction to the salonists’ convention that put history painting in the first class.) and dramatic giving the home a stylish theatricality that makes a decorative backdrop for modern life. That’s a good enough reason to buy a picture. It is not (and how can I tell my friend) a good enough reason for me to write about it. I am not Baudelaire. With paintings there isn’t that much room for personal taste; so what if I like it?

One must trust the painting and not the critic. Who knows what they have up their sleeves (or what they had for lunch). “A dozen press agents working overtime can do terrible things to the human spirit.” (Cecil B. De Mille, Sunset Boulevard). When I think what critics have written about me I cry. When I read what they say about Julian I laugh. They even call him a charlatan. I suppose that is traditionally the greatest praise. As Princess Lucie Shirazee said, “There is no product without ballyhoo.” There is so much critical papiétage devoted to exhuming the mastodon of artists’ motivation. What about critics’ motives? Why give publicity to something you hate? And then you see who these reviewers are really pushing and it’s the pits.

I suppose that critics have some idea about what painting at any given time is supposed to be about and that anything that doesn’t fit into their canon is open season. During the ’70s I was very interested in abstract painting (’70s was ’50s, ’80s is ’60s). Towards the end of the ’70s this coalesced into a mass of work that I call single-shape painting: pictures consisting of one shape on a ground. Judy Rifka, Stephen Mueller, Gary Stephan, Bill Jensen, and Martha Diamond pop into my head. I still want to write about them but it can no longer be in the same terms because these painters’ work (except Jensen’s) has changed and now it would have to be in the nature of an historical study. I am very much interested in what will happen to abstract painters now that everything has changed. Even more interested in them than the subject at hand. When you see things you don’t always know what they pertain to. For instance in Mueller’s, Diamond’s and also Thomas Nozkowski’s work of this type there apparently seems to be figure-ground. It has been dismissed as “just figure-ground” but, if one allows the picture to speak, rather than impose the notion of figure-ground on the picture, contrary to the usual “positive” shape on “negative” ground it is the background that advances and the central shape or figure that recedes. The exact opposite of figure-ground. Once, when I was trying to explain this distinction in reference to a Stephen Mueller painting (one where the background seems to envelop the central shape in a cloud of tulle) the person I was trying to talk to said, “That’s just the way he put the paint on.” Doesn’t this person realize that that’s all there is; the way the paint is put on? This is the one thing that can’t be explained in a picture: what is visible is what is intended. When you see things you don’t always know what they pertain to. Here is a curious instance. In Joe Masheck’s “Iconicity” there was a beautiful pairing of reproductions. It consisted of a Byzantine icon of Elijah coupled with a Martha Diamond painting. Both were gold with a red middle; the Diamond abstract. the icon peopled with figures. It was a nice historical parenthesis. Their juxtaposition was a compelling and provocative thing for me. Wonderfully enough it was never gone into in the text. I wish I knew what point he was making because seeing the pictures now being made one sees that information is being carried iconologically (iconography is the subject matter; iconology is the meaning of the subject) in the sense that the attributes and symbolic notions Schnabel’s images contain give meaning to his iconoramas the way a pair of eyes is as comprehensible a depiction of Saint Lucy as the portrayal of the whole figure.

Even before Julian smashed the plates he was concerned with a type of symbolic representation: gallows, shields, crosses that I, in my first piece about him, cavalierly dismissed (“And who cares about the images crawling around the rubble on their stumps when they tried to find their way through the surface.”) At the time I think I was justified to a certain extent. The surface was the great thing. Julian has anxieties about surface. He always made holes in the picture as if making a picture wasn’t quite enough. Now they’re velvet, and velvet painting really doesn’t seem so funny anymore. Once when I complained that I was having trouble going from poetry to prose, having spent my life pruning work, it seemed the amount of writing went into a novel was so much padding, the writer Frederick Iseman corrected me with, “Nonsense. It’s generosity of expression.” The velvet’s so suave that the paint can’t go in and it hovers there restlessly at least a half-inch from the surface. There’s something physically gratifying about how the paint is applied that it has its own logic, like it’s always been done that way. Now that Julian’s repertoire, as it were, has been so much enlarged the myth and glyph must be dealt with.

When Edit DeAk wrote her brilliant essay in this magazine about Francesco Clemente she tended to lump all American picture makers into the same category. (Reading Edit, one feels a bit like a forensic technician trying to reconstruct a cow from hamburger.) She complained (in so many words) that this new picture-making as it’s done in America, predicated as it is on accumulated Pop imagery, is low grade in comparison with the depth of cultural resources inherent in the Italians, specifically Clemente. I think that the proliferation of neoclassicism everywhere (Last year when I asked the industrial designer Andrée Putman whether there was a lot of neoclassicism in Paris she told me it’s been dragging around for a while. “Ça traine depuis un moment” is what she said.) presaged the Italian invasion as if America already had a myth waiting for personification the same way Montezuma opened his arms to Cortes. We are as Italian as hell. The false note in DeAk’s appoggiatura is that her argument, general as it is, implicitly indicts Julian Schnabel. (He is American.) Actually she seems to be referring specifically to the jejune confections of David Salle. Schnabel and Salle are great friends and Julian just painted over a Salle with orange. It is by far David’s best picture. I feel I can say what I want about him because his pictures cost so much money I can’t hurt them. Nothing goes down in value. Everything costs more. Boy, are two-panel pictures boring or what? It really turned into a fad. They’re like Brice Marden’s with decor added. I suppose all the people who do them feel it gives their work an art look. What a Pandora’s can of worms Marden opened with that one. I can see why Marden would discrete his colors that way. That was the way to do it. And again I think Julian in Ornamental Despair also did it with great pictorial logic; it just makes sense. (In 1971 Larissa, a couturiere, when I told her that fringe was no longer possible, showed me a jacket she’d designed and said, “How can you say that a material can go out of style. Everything is there to be properly done.”)

How can one have critical distance. For critical distance one must have a sense of the limitations of a painter’s “style” (call it what you will). How can you criticize what a painter does when the obvious intention is to do everything. As much as one would like not to, one can’t illustrate the good without contrasting it against the bad. There is a difference between doing everything and doing anything. Lucio Pozzi for instance will do just anything, from those ’60s academic Liquitexes (he did last year) that look like Warhols before they’re silk-screened to little watercolor views. It’s the touch of the brush, the mix of the paint and the sense of a line in a drawing that makes it look old-fashioned or new. A type of line just gets tuckered out after awhile: the beautiful charcoal smudges and style we can follow from Matisse through de Kooning to Rivers, Serra and in its ultimate decadence in Susan Rothenberg are perfect illustrations. Judy Rifka told me that when she was in art school all her teachers drew that way. That was the way you were taught and no matter how lousy the drawing was it always looked pretty good, like “art.” There is something inherently gratifying about that style. Robert Smithson’s drawings were put down because the line wasn’t nice. His drawings are great. They’re descriptive and so the “art look” of the line doesn’t count here. So when you see Lucio Pozzi’s ambivalence you realize that his confusion is even greater than your own, and looking as we do to art for guidance, relying on the painter to define the look of the times, seeing he’s more lost than we, we just look elsewhere. It is not enough to say the times are confused so my work is confused; all times are confused and the artist must sort things out for us. In Julian’s case it is impossible to maintain any argument for long because the next picture may easily refute it, all things being equal when consumed by the omnivorous maw of his pictorial machine.

I could easily formulate this argument to illustrate the difference between Schnabel and Clemente or Chia: “It is in the degree of finish; in the way the narrative is propelled. When you juxtapose random images on a field Schnabel-wise you get poetry. Unity through disparity is at the root of modern American poetry (John Wieners, Michael Scholnick) potted though it may be in French Surrealism; it has become, through deracination and reroofing, native produce. One reads Schnabel’s paintings ideographically; the mind forces a connection between any two things in proximity. This is the syntax of poetry. On the other hand the Italians in their more finished work are dealing with story, parable, as well as myth. Chia’s concerns are self-consciously literal in the classic picture-making sense of those little Giorgionesque allegories sprinkled around the museums under a variety of ascriptions. It is the difference between Boccaccio and Burroughs.” But I won’t. This shows the fallacy of critical argument. By careful example and suppressing information that is not to your point any argument can be proven. Julian has of course covered that angle as well. The Geography Lesson and The Aborigine Painting are, to follow my argument, “Italian”—simple stories that they are. And to go further with self-refutation: there is no finer poet than Francesco Clemente—pissing in the pond plop a frog. I only wish sometimes that Julian wasn’t so caught up in a specie of intellectualism that indicates a studentish kind of insecurity. By that I mean dedicating pictures to Camus and lots of other references in his work that speak of a collegiate desire to show how smart you are. We know who the established heavies are. Domenichino was Stendhal’s favorite painter. Schnabel is sometimes concerned with the extrapictorial consideration of manufacturing objects with a palpable almost Frankenstein presence, and perhaps this alone sets him apart.

Anyway, I hate chauvinist argument. I, personally, never felt all that American. Nor do I feel comfortable exhuming, as it were, the mastodon of artistic motivation and intention. “Why would one paint images of butterflies? To show that beauty and loftiness extends to this . . . ” (Cho Hui Nyong, 19th-century Korean painter). Although I can’t bear to listen to painters talk about their work a few things drift in and stay: Carl Andre overheard saying about an artist that he has a good sense of materials. I remember that. Ted Berrigan, when I remarked about how boring painters were on the subject of their painting. “Yes but one thing they can talk about is paint.” I don’t like to say much. One is so exposed in a statement. One is always undergoing critical reconstruction where the discovery of a new shard can throw a life’s work into eternal ridicule. In a short piece I once wrote about the male nude, “ . . . The real subject of a nude is sex.” That is tripe. To see that a crucifix can be more than a pinup look at Michelangelo and on the Ceiling where religious fervor emanates through the lime; the nude wherever possible must be male to specifically exclude sex responses in the viewer. The bound captive embodies nobility not pornography.

Ad Reinhardt once drew a funny little tree of art like a family tree and on its branches he wrote in genealogical groupings the names of his contemporaries. Way out on a limb with Kuniyoshi, Leon Kroll, Alexander Brook and Karfiol we find in tiny letters the name Philip Guston. John Chamberlain says that the chief human occupation is sorting. In the mad rush to put information together, things get lumped together that should’ve been kept apart. The inclusion of Guston with these bores (Brook for instance was a big prize winner in his day) is just insulting. But the point is well made; who’d’ve thought where Guston would eventually end up. People want to remember you as they first met you. In the ’50s Reinhardt probably still saw the earlier factory drawings as he was looking at Guston’s greasepaint abstractions. Even after the example of Picasso the worst thing a painter can do is change styles. Critics are merciless then. Julian is lucky enough to have developed a method whereby anything can be encompassed in his oeuvre, making himself and not the viewer the ultimate authority. This can produce the Picasso complex where the smallest personal artifact becomes a fetish. Delia Doherty says that “Julian’ll end up buying one of Picasso’s houses.” Regardless of this it is of primary importance that the artists be the ultimate authority of their work—not necessarily the individual works, almost all artists are bad editors of their work viz. Schnabel’s inclusion of What To Do with a Corner in Madrid in the Whitney Biennial was a mistake, it’s almost a school piece—but of the general direction they must follow. Yes, critics are merciless then. Poons, de Chirico, Philip Guston and so many others. John Chamberlain’s great foam pieces were so severely trounced that he stopped experimenting almost entirely and reverted to pastiching early work in much the same way de Chirico did. Chamberlain’s foam pieces were so misunderstood that when a big one arrived at a Midwestern museum it was unwrapped and the curator called New York to say that the gallery had forgotten to include the piece. In the case of Guston, after doing a lot of homework I was forced to the now fashionable conclusion that his famous pink pictures were in fact a detour. He had a good reason to pull those Klan hoods out of mothballs. We need them again to remind us. March 17, 1981, Ku Klux Klan rally in Connecticut.

The comfortable Marxism of Fairfield Porter would be hard put before the heterogeneous melee of recent painting. What do you say in a radically apolitical time when nobody knows what politics are after the hyper-politique of the ’60s? One would like to have a grasp on the cultural manure that is providing the ground for our experience. I must believe that mine is a common experience, that my “take,” far from being in advance is really identical, if only more verbose, to my contemporaries’. I don’t have a clue as to this period, if this is a period at all, so it would be futile to project anything. I don’t consider this a personal shortcoming. The Nixonian semantic inversion, where the rhetoric and vocabulary of the opposition were appropriated bodily, terminated the illusion that any sense could ever be extricated from the political conundrum. Nor have I a sense of our mass cultural aspirations. The journalistic plasma that spawned the society of the ’60s created a period so self-consciously “there” and so well defined to and by its inhabitants that, contrary to the law of history where events assume shape in retrospect, the time seemed better defined to me then, when it was happening, than now as I look back on it. When a period is so well defined as the ’60s was it tends to throw its stamp on subsequent periods. The ’70s revisionism was even more deco than the ’30s but it was also everything else from before (’70s was ’50s, ’80s is ’60s). These faint echoes of ’60s imagism as Pop nostalgia, the re-revival of abstract art in the ’70s and the curatorial seal on image-making all comes out of nonspecific ’60ism ’60s revival in its most desperate billboard-size illustration, desperate to the extent of making a “chic” First Lady out of Nancy because the people so desperately want another Jackie to lead the fashion way. First Ladies were not known style-setters until Jackie. Why should a First Lady be chic? Jacqueline Kennedy was a silhouette that could be copied and Nancy has no style whatsoever, only fear of the second-wearing of $3500 ball gowns. What kind of trend is that going to start? Four-dollar ballgowns that you only wear once? Reagan/Kennedy—20 years: an exact generation. One of my favorite jokes is how the fashion press reheats the terms “Return to Elegance” and “The New Romantics” alternating the two each year to justify clothes that aren’t all that up to date. When Roxanne, a wearer of clothes, returned from a recent trip to London wearing the latest I asked her how she would describe her new outfit. “New Romantic,” she said. So this is something new. Remember, W calls Nancy “Return to Elegance” and so in the ultimate reverse Nixonian inversion we have both “Return to Elegance” and “The New Romantics” existing at the same time to describe totally opposite fashion politics. What can you say about such a time?

Stendhal wrote, “By 1833 these things [I say] that seem surprising and possibly avant-garde may appear trite and even old-fashioned.” How can we ever be sure about what new art will soon look like. There are, I’m sure, painters I’ve never heard about, or whose work I loathe, or don’t consider real, who will ignite a spark in future eyes. Maybe history put me in at a funny time and every single thing being done is just a question of choosing the lesser evil. Who knows, everything made after a certain point may in the future be termed Mannerist, and we just happened to be around while it was happening and couldn’t see it.

So much of our perception of art is extrapictorial coming as it does through the ever diminishing filter of critics, editors, dealers, artists and curators. Robin Bruch doesn’t have a gallery, doesn’t get written about and is one of the best abstract painters going. Movements are manufactured and shows are hung in such a way that the poor customer is shanghaied into a totally constructed conclusion: that unfortunate off-base “New Image” show and one I really enjoyed and must tell you about the Monet show at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It started out okay, the beautiful early things nicely grouped by subject matter, but as one worked one’s way towards the back where the immense unfinished daubs were hung I felt the insidious curatorial whisper telling me that these never-meant-to-be-exhibited senilities were the roots of . . . what? Color Field painting? Abstract Expressionism? Action painting? I mean they are truly gagaoramas but so great is the need to invent precursors that they would force even these white elephants into the wasp-waist of their theses. I remember when they did the same thing to Gustave Moreau in Paris. This is an injustice to everyone not only to the painters and their seeming progeny but to the public. Because Franz Kline admired Albert Ryder and looked upon him as a forebear doesn’t mean that Ryder has anything to do with Kline. Rather Kline has to do with Ryder. Ryder’s shared similarities with Kline have really hurt our appreciation of Ryders that are atypical. This happens all the time. We wouldn’t see Cycladic art but for Brancusi. They tried to turn Alexander Cozens into an action painter when all he was doing was trying to find patterns that could have images read into them—not the same thing at all. Or the reinvention of Luca Cambiaso as a Cubist. Certainly he was, as the Cubists were, trying to find a system but it wasn’t the same system at all. Likewise Picasso and Africa which is a little different because Picasso was consciously imitating.

As much as comparisons are always made between Schnabel and Rauschenberg and as much as I would rather not bring it up, just to straighten this out a little: the similarity is really in the poetic desolation of images within the picture. Rauschenberg does not have a monopoly on sticking things on pictures. We have to go further back for that but really who cares about invention and who does something first; it’s about who does it best. Except for the notable exception of Rauschenberg’s bed and maybe the white things, his pictures always seemed flimsy to me and whatever they are, Schnabel’s pictures are not that. What am I talking about the white things are flimsy too. Rauschenberg seemed to despair over the limits of pictorializing, whereas Schnabel enthuses over its limitless possibilities. More to the point are Max Beckman and Joe Zucker. Beckman for the obvious and Zucker for the coruscate surface where cotton-balls, like plates, are the extension by metaphor of brush strokes. The gratuitous parakeets and doodah dinkiness of Zucker is just too cute.

Julian has reinvented the art world. From the first, Julian showed great concern about the artists he knew, helping them to sell work. Still today when buyers come to his studio he’ll pull out work by other painters. This is the same as putting everything in the work. It shows a gregarious love for art, a modest hero-worship for the painters who have influenced him, and rather than try to crush and conceal his sources, Julian does his best to make them known. This is rare in the art world where inventions and patents are jealously guarded, and by this Schnabelizing he has created an art world. Irritate nervous artists as it may that Schnabel is at the center, the fact that there is a center at all makes it better for everybody. This is especially important to me because I live in this city, New York, and I love art and I missed the Abstract Expressionists and I wasn’t here for the beginnings of Pop art and afterwards everything seemed to’ve split up and now we have it here again and I am part of it and I am finally seeing it happen before my very eyes.

When I saw the first plate painting at his studio I knew immediately that no matter what I thought, I was looking at one picture that would reinvent everything, that a point had been made in history and that the art world was finally back. Edith Wharton’s reminiscence of Henry James’ response to Swann’s Way, “He recognized a new mastery, a new vision, and a structural design as yet unintelligible to him but as surely there as hard bone under soft flesh in a living organism.”

I heard Joan Sutherland sing Rigoletto on the radio the other night. I loathe her singing. There is only Maria Callas. But I enjoyed it much to my dismay. I felt I had somehow betrayed Callas. And I feel like that every time I develop an appreciation for something I once detested. Still, I am never so pleased as when I change my mind. I feel supple and still alive to the real variety. But also comes the sadness that with each new enthusiasm an old one has been pushed aside in my heart. I never cared for Julian’s work and still ain’t crazy about the drawings. When I saw the first plate however I realized that here was something I had to come to terms with, that I somehow had a responsibility to it, pushing as it did so much else into the back of my mind, as a new love will erase a difficult love one has been battling. And now as the etiolated American hegemony withdraws we see, as Judy Rifka sees, a great world of art blooming in perfection and Julian wielding his great artillery in the setting of the American sun.

Rene Ricard writes poetry. His book Rene Ricard (1979–1980) is published by DIA.