William T. Wiley

MoMA - The Museum of Modern Art

It’s no wonder that William T. Wiley strikes fear in the hearts of veteran New York art pundits. I doubt if I’ve ever seen a more perverse display of self-consciously bad-art-for-bad-art’s-sake than Wiley’s “Projects” show at the Modern. Oh, how they try and understand him! “Dude Ranch Dada” and deliberate put-on of New York art, meant to 1) categorize him with familiar (European) terms and 2) place him in some kind of relation to New York art; even if he’s anti-Big Apple, it still means he’s concerned with the capital of the art universe—no one gets to ignore it.

The perversity of the institutionalized prostitution of famemaking (showing at the prestigious Madame Modern) certainly created the right atmosphere for the presentation of Wiley’s worst sculptures (a plywood heart and a guitar on cloth with stones) and nonpainting. Of course, it is no coincidence that Wiley’s big black walls were

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