Saturday, June 29, 2013

‘Paul McCarthy: WS’ Turns a Magic Mirror on Excess

The American Fairy Tale, Fun House Style

‘Paul McCarthy: WS’ Turns a Magic Mirror on Excess

Suzanne DeChillo/The New York Times
Paul McCarthy: WS A video in a sprawling multimedia installation by the artist in the Park Avenue Armory’s drill hall.
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Of all the disagreeable species of humanlike beings Jonathan Swift invented in “Gulliver’s Travels,” the Yahoos are the worst and most human of all. Island-dwelling bipeds, they are lewd,  lying, dirty, territorial and aggressive. They copulate in public, speak in shrieks and moans and kill for valueless baubles. They eat to excrete; when on the attack, they use excrement as a weapon.


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Suzanne DeChillo/The New York Times
Violence, humor, sex, impotence, appetite, degradation: Snow White (a k a WS) cavorts with dwarfs in a video in Paul McCarthy’s vast multimedia installation at the Park Avenue Armory.
Suzanne DeChillo/The New York Times
A reimagined room from Paul McCarthy’s childhood home.
Suzanne DeChillo/The New York Times
A video with the artist as a remade Walt Disney, with Elyse Poppers as WS.
Paul McCarthy’s film-and-sculpture installation, “WS,” which fills the immense drill hall of the Park Avenue Armory, is basically a Yahoo epic, its satire framed in the language of Disney, Duchamp, 1950s suburbia, 21st-century greed and Craigslist pornography. The piece is grand and gross, with ambushing flashes of beauty and an X rating.
It’s also the larger of two McCarthy spectacles in town this summer, the other being “Rebel Dabble Babble” at the cavernous Hauser & Wirth space in Chelsea. The ostensible theme of the Chelsea show, the making of the 1955 film “Rebel Without a Cause,” is specific.  But as with “WS,” the real subject is moral dysfunction played out on a cinematic scale.
Mr. McCarthy, who was born into a liberal Mormon family in Salt Lake City in 1945, has lived and worked in and around Los Angeles since 1970. While his reputation has long been high among artists, until a decade or so ago his career was largely a West Coast phenomenon. And even there, museums and galleries didn’t know what to do with him.
Like many other California artists who came of age around 1960, he was attracted to the materially messy, psychologically fraught side of Abstract Expressionism,  which he transmuted into performances.  Alone or in front of small audiences or on video, he chainsawed furniture, painted with his penis, slathered himself with ketchup and made love to a lump of ground beef.
In the early 1980s he added masks and costumes to his repertory. He cooked up the persona of a demented Santa. He did obscene riffs on children’s book characters, like Heidi and Pinocchio. Using mechanized mannequins, he turned the Wild West, long a staple of America’s televised identity, into a vaudeville of exploitative sex. Long before the abject body became a dominant theme of art in the 1990s, Mr. McCarthy was on the case, presenting the human form as a gaseous, leaky container, and gender as a fluid condition. Just as his anarchic early art had made psychological sense during the Vietnam War years, his later work, with its direct assault on American normality, fit the emotional chaos of the AIDS era. While rarely referring to specific political issues, this was still intensely political art.
It was so intense that no one bought it, so for years he supported his family by doing pickup work in construction and photography that sometimes brought him into Los Angeles film studios. Hollywood and the mechanics of film fantasy are a primary source of his art. This is particularly true of the recent works that tend to be big-budget projects,  now that the market has finally discovered him.
The Armory installation, his biggest so far, is a compendium of signature ingredients: violence, humor, sex, impotence,  appetite, degradation,  art history, politics and pop culture.  The piece is based on two intersecting elements: the 1937 Disney animated film “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” and the suburban home of Mr. McCarthy’s childhood.
But like the installation’s title — “WS” stands for White Snow — everything is in a disordered version of an original form. On an islandlike platform in the center of the Armory, Mr. McCarthy has constructed a three-quarters-scale facsimile of the facade of his childhood ranch house in Utah and set it, inaccessibly, in a kind of dank rain forest of plastic trees and fake flowers.
The rest of the house is set up outside the forest and is approachable, with cutaway walls and windows. But while its rooms are precise in their period décor, they are strewn with refuse, splattered with dark fluids and unoccupied except for the nude bodies of a man and a woman, apparent victims of torture and murder.
 A seven-hour film shot both inside the house and in the forest is projected onto screens on the drill hall walls and elsewhere. It’s a thing of many components, among them the story of Snow White, as told by Disney. The beginning of the McCarthy reimagining adheres fairly closely to the animation, with Snow White wandering out of the forest and into the house of the dwarfs, who discover her napping there.
 There are, however, some stark differences. This Snow White (played by the actress Elyse Poppers) sleeps in the buff and, once awake, poses like an odalisque. The dwarfs — nine in this telling — are a mangy,  misshapen, sex-starved lot who think nothing of turning up naked for breakfast before being packed off to work by their newfound nymphet-mom.
 At that point, the familiar story ends, and another begins. Enter Walt Disney, here named Walt Paul and played by Mr. McCarthy with a prosthetic nose and overbite. Almost instantly, he and his cartoon creation engage in a constantly table-turning Oedipal courtship.
“I own you!” he shouts.
“I want you to crawl!” she shouts back, and the path to excruciatingly prolonged disaster is open.
 At the same time, breakaway sections of the film are playing in the Armory’s side galleries. The scenes veer from Food Channel shtick to Pier Paolo Pasolini-style degradation and include at least two startling art historical references.
In the first, the splayed-legged nude woman of Duchamp’s  “Étant Donnés” finds multiple male sexual partners. (Mr. McCarthy uses professional porn-film actors for these scenes.) In the second, Mr. McCarthy and Ms. Popper enact the tableau from Massacio’s famous15th-century fresco of a wailing, disconsolate Adam and Eve leaving paradise.
The Duchamp scene is outrageous, funny and flat, the way pornography can be. The Masaccio tableau is unexpectedly moving, all the more because it is re-enacted several times, with the two nude performers repeatedly assuming a posture of shame and grief.
Meanwhile, the main film continues, its pace and volume building in a raucous orgy of bingeing and purging that eventually ends in the death of Walt Disney/Walt Paul at the hands of his dwarfs and the demise of Snow White/White Snow herself. Their bodies are those we see, in the form of life casts, in the house.
What all this means, I don’t exactly know, although it obviously touches on regret for lost innocence and on a recoil from — and a satirist’s relish of — a homegrown plague of give-us-more-pleasure that has spread to much of the world. What I suspect is that in Mr. McCarthy we have a Swift for our time, or maybe a Hieronymus Bosch, and in “WS” — organized by the Armory’s artistic director, Alex Poots, and Hans-Ulrich Obrist, in association with Tom Eccles — a scabrous American  “Garden of Earthly Delights.”
 Like the Armory installation, “Rebel Dabble Babble” at Hauser & Wirth is a collaboration between Mr. McCarthy and his son, Damon. It too is conceived as a film-and-film-set unit.  It began as a project by the actor James Franco. After bringing in the McCarthys, Mr. Franco dropped out, and they expanded the piece by dovetailing the plot of “Rebel Without a Cause” with the legend of the erotically intertwined lives of its director, Nicholas Ray, and its starring actors, Dean and Natalie Wood.
As in “WS,” Mr. McCarthy, with the same crazy nose, takes the male lead, playing Ray; the father of Dean’s character in the film; and himself. Other actors also have multiple roles, with stand-ins for the pornographic bits. Over all the work feels at once narrow and diffuse. You may have to care a lot about 1950s Hollywood (I don’t) to stick with it.
Still, vintage McCarthy themes surface: the family as self-lacerating unit; masculinity as a state of fury fueled by impotence; nostalgia as a fool’s faith; Yahooism as an American and now global way of life. As ever, what makes it all work is that Mr. McCarthy sees the Yahoo in himself and in us, and lets us see it too. In a world of brute, pandemic excess, self-knowledge is a minute thing, but a grace.
“Paul McCarthy:“WS” runs through Aug. 4 at the Park Avenue Armory, 643 Park Avenue, at 67th Street; (212) 616-3930, No one under 17 will be admitted. “Paul McCarthy and Damon McCarthy: Rebel Dabble Babble” runs through July 26 at Hauser & Wirth, 511 West 18th Street, Chelsea; (212) 790-3900, .

Saturday, June 22, 2013

MARK GREENWOLD Murdering the World, Paintings and Drawings 2007–2013

MARK GREENWOLDMurdering the World, Paintings and Drawings 2007–2013

One of the profound pleasures of encountering great art is the detangling of endless threads of reference in one’s mind. This process began the minute I walked away from Mark Greenwold’s current exhibit at Sperone Westwater, and I began to unravel the cluster very slowly.
Mark Greenwold, “Good Fortune” (After Aristotle Ridden by Phyllis), 2013. Oil on linen mounted on panel, 24 × 33”. Courtesy Sperone Westwater, New York.
Each painting by Greenwold is complexly complicated—or perhaps, one could say, complicatedly complex. Complexy complicated because the artist barely appears able to relate the content of his paintings to how each narrative reflects his complicated relationship with the world. Complicatedly complex because his appetite for art and art history is as multi-dimensional as Greenwold is himself: he thrives on all things uneasy as they offer boundless potential subjects for his art. Either way, his works are remarkably contradictory to what has been cultivated in painting culture for at least the last three decades. In the epigraph of the exhibit’s catalogue, Stanley Cavell states, “The cause of tragedy is that we would rather murder the world than permit it to expose us to change,” which evokes Max J. Friedlander’s famous remark, “It’s easier to change your worldview than the way you hold your spoon.” The inevitable change is longed for, yet attainable. I was struck by Greenwold’s response in an interview with fellow painter Carroll Dunham published in the catalogue, when asked for his definition of humanism: “I always thought Woody Allen movies that Woody Allen was in were better because he was in them. But he seems to get too old to play that character. I’m not; I’m interested in being old and being in my paintings also. It seems like old age is [a] great subject matter.”

A few things rushed to mind as I took my time walking from the Bowery to the L train at Union Square. First, after Sigmund Freud came to America in 1909—his first and only time—to deliver his five lectures on the theories of psychoanalysis at Clark University, he subsequently became disdainful towards Americans because of their obsession with money and power as substitutes for sexual fulfillment. Second, Franz Kafka, who never came to America, began the first chapter of his unfinished novel Amerika in 1912, which was published three years after his death in 1927. Third, in 1921, Balthus, at the age of 13, published his illustrated book Mitsou, with the preface by Rainer Maria Rilke, about a boy who finds and loses his cat.

With their repeated penetration of lines, Greenwold’s new paintings and drawings evoke Giacometti’s existential angst, while the calibration of scale among figures, objects, interiors, and landscapes conjures Balthus’s magnified psychological space. It’s notable that Greenwold achieves this synthesis despite his reliance on photographic sources, as opposed to Balthus’s and Giacometti’s use of direct observation. Greenwold gathers material for each painting by selecting fragmented reproductions of objects or interiors from design or architecture magazines for the backgrounds, and his own photos for the figures. While reflecting on this issue of searching for an ideal environment, which is constructed from other fragments of places and times, I remembered how Kafka seemed to imagine his characters and places in his mind’s eye rather than in specific locales; in Amerika, Karl Rossmann imagines the U.S. as a land of infinite possibility where everyone succeeds beyond his or her own dreams and fails beyond their wildest horrors. The novel ostensibly ends with Rossmann on the train heading out to work for the Nature Theater of Oklahoma. Greenwold, too, has created his own theater of the absurd, though anti-nature and with a bent of humor and optimism.

Next is Freud’s concept of psychosexual development, which he divided into five stages: oral begins from birth to 2 years old; anal from 2 to 3; phallic, which deals with the genitals (Oedipus complex in boys, and thanks to Jung, Electra complex in girls), from 4 to 6; Latency, which focuses on dormant sexual feelings, from 4 to 10; and Genital, the maturation of sexual interest, from puberty into adulthood. One implication of the latter is that one’s adolescence can be extended forever (as when grown-ups get embarrassed when they act like children). Puritanical American systems of judgment are more prone to misunderstand the sensual and open eroticism in Balthus’s painting. Conversely, European cultures, particularly modern English and French writers and artists, are aware that the extremely sensitive world of children merits respect, that it is equally complex as that of adults. Charles Baudelaire, Marcel Proust, Alain Fournier, Colette, St. Exupéry, among many others, have explored the theme of children’s imagination. It’s clear that in Mitsu, Balthus was not just the boy looking for his cat with such determination, butwas the cat. By identifying with the cat (as in his 1935 painting “The King of Cats”), a creature that makes unpredictable turns from affectionate to unapproachable, Balthus found a vehicle to perpetuate a mystery about himself. It was also during this same period, around 1922, that Balthus made a vow to remain a child forever, reaffirmed when he chose to illustrate only the first half of Emily Brontë’sWuthering Heights when Heathcliff and Cathy were most happy, and from when Balthus’s inner world became willfully solidified.

Greenwold is just as intensely invested in his pictorial ambition to simultaneously intersperse form and content as Balthus had been. They both went against the grain of their times; while Balthus was painting in the height of Cubism’s popularity, Greenwold began his career during the dominance of Pop Art and Minimalism. (Through thick and thin, both kept their visions intact.) Both have a sophisticated rapport with art history: Balthus revered the monumental frescoes of Piero della Francesca; Greenwold prefers Sienese small-scale, egg-tempera panel paintings and the intimacy of early Dutch painting, especially Jan van Eyck. Yet both have also been able to extrapolate and incorporate formal aspects of the art of their time into their own work. I suspect among the few differences between them would be, for example, Balthus’s obsession with English novels, particularly those of Emily Brontë, versus Greenwold’s passion for European and American Jewish literature, Kafka and Saul Bellow in particular; or the size of the paintings, Balthus large, Greenwold small; or the age of the subjects—Balthus refused to grow up and hence only painted adolescent girls in various personifications of Cathy with a few exceptions of self-portraits, especially one in which he appears as Heathcliff at the age of 27, sitting to the left while Cathy is being combed by an old maid in “Cathy Dressing” (1933). Greenwold can’t wait to put himself in his painting as soon as he understands Freud, or devours Kafka, Bellow, and other Jewish writers. All of the above has given Greenwold the necessary arsenal to deal with all aspects of his life, from good to bad, beauty to ugliness, humor to tragedy, and real to unreal, as if undertaking the dissection of his own mind in order to describe each of his characters’ emotions and physiognomy with wit and energy. Each is laid bare in his paintings, quite akin to Bellow’s principled characters, who in spite of the constant negative forces of society and circumstance are potentially endowed with heroic capacities.
Mark Greenwold, “A Jewish Couple,” 2011. Oil on linen mounted on panel, 22 × 28”. Courtesy Sperone Westwater, New York.
Meanwhile, Greenwold’s ferocious formal and painterly aspiration is matched to his complex and picaresque narratives. For example, the sophisticated network of brushstrokes in “A Jewish Couple” (2011) displays a variety of touches that accommodate endless differences of surface: from the eccentric cross-hatched flesh of the two naked figures, contrasted wonderfully with the evenly painted carpet; to the white reflection on the glass of the table top, vastly dissimilar to the white reflection in between the window frames; to the bold and relatively thick brush strokes on the upper part of the back wall and ceiling, which visually soften the tightly painted geometric/abstract configuration hovering in the middle of the ceiling. The extended use of cobalt blue and turquoise, mixed in with other colors, even with earth pigments and black to make subtle shades of cool gray, have more tightly integrated and lightened the palette than ever before. In addition, the rhythm of the paintings and their spatial construction seems to suggest Greenwold’s willingness to experiment with greater frameworks of geometry, greater speed, and greater pleasure. In “A Jewish Couple” displaying the orthogonals and transversals of the perspective dictates the interplay between flatness and depth of the painting. While the two naked figures (the self-portrait standing in full-frontal view on the left with the head looking down towards slight left, and the female figure on the right, half-cropped by the bottom of the painting, leaning forward in three-quarter view) frame the space between them as much as inviting the viewer into the painting. Had Greenwold’s erect penis not moved to the left, parallel to the two arm rests of the sofa in front of him, the whole space would have been much less generative. (It would have been less interesting had he painted the above as a biomorphic abstraction rather than a geometric one.)

As weirdly delirious as some of the paintings appear, such as “Mean Old Man” (2012–13), “The Banker’s Daughter” (2009–10), or “Men” (2009), the two most complex paintings in the exhibit, for me at least, are “As a Man Grows Older” (2010–11) and “Good Fortune (After Aristotle Ridden by Phyllis)” (2013). Although the former is spatially compressed and packed with dispersed figures and objects, and the latter is more stable, less cluttered in its composition, they both deploy cubism—the depiction of space from different angles simultaneously—with straight-on, eye-level angles oriented up/down/sideways, as well as the occasional flattened or tilted picture plane, which evocatively increases degrees of disorientation in some cases and stability in others.

In the end, a definite sense of wonder and pleasure is conveyed, as much for the painter as for the viewer. I laughed out loud many times. Clearly Greenwold is allowing himself the exploration of new painterly invention. He’s extended his repertoire of human expressions and postures; explored more unexpected compositional devices (which would be impossible if he painted from direct observation); widened his range of painted surfaces; expanded his interplay between biomorphic and geometric abstraction; and imbued his painted pets with that extra edge of charming insanity. This new marriage of ultimate egocentrism and animism is evident in this important exhibition. Perhaps by unremittingly portraying himself as an older man, exposing his vulnerability and nakedness, Mark Greenwold has become a child again.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Lambchop - Nice Without Mercy

Lambchop - Nice Without Mercy Lyrics

Artist: Lambchop
Album: Mr. M
Genre: Rock

We have crawled among the elements
Taking pictures with a phone
Carry buckets over mountains much like we used to

Past a riddle in the river
Catching fish with just our hands
And they taste of some cool pastoral splendor
Rob from always on the run is so bad and copy paste is a sin
And the sky it opens up like candy
And the wind it don’t know my name

And the sky it opens up like candy
And the wind it don’t know my name
And the warm comes back
Even though I thought it would not, yeah

I saw the light beyond the sunset
Nearby a little country church
And it felt a bit like little Jimmy Dickens
And the shadows disappear

In a day that breathes forever
And God comes and gathers up his jewels

And the sky it opens up like candy
And the wind it don’t know my name
And the warm comes back
Even though I thought it would not, yeah

Read more at 

YACHT - Psychic City (Voodoo City)

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Dave Hickey by Saul Ostrow BOMB 51/Spring 1995, ART

"Because criticism is caused by art, it doesn’t cause art, or it shouldn’t. I mean…yikes! Think of all the bad art caused by Walter Benjamin. (laughter) I’d hate to be responsible for anything like that—although I am being held responsible, you know, for every flower painting in Indiana, just because I said the “B” word. In fact, I am arguing for a much more secular and aggressive idea of beauty."

Friday, June 7, 2013

Katherine Bradford

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Mickalene Thomas Studio Visit

Shirley Goldfarb retrospective, (April 25-June 8)

A-M-A-Z-I-N-G paintings...

view article link   
May 2013
I’m Shirley Person.
I am my own event 
by Randee Silv

Shirley Goldfarb: Retrospective
Loretta Howard Gallery April 25-June 8

Shirley Goldfarb
Shirley in Paris Photo: Shirley Goldfarb Facebook Page
For a slight moment as I walked into the Loretta Howard Gallery for the Shirley Goldfarb retrospective, (April 25-June 8), I couldn’t help but imagine that I might have been in Paris inside Café de Flore, and there, sitting at a corner table, I’d spot Goldfarb as she was watching people in the mirror, wearing those round oversized sunglasses of hers, dressed in black and holding Sardi, her Yorkshire terrier. Aware of everything and everyone around her, she sat quietly contemplating her aloneness. I knew she was very protective of her privacy and easily bothered by people, but maybe she’d ask me to join her for one of her long walks through Saint-Germain-des-Prés.
We’d talk about painting as survival. How her life was her painting. Monet. The colors in the Parisian sky. Leaving New York behind. If she really believed the gypsy’s story about a curse put upon her. Warhol. No longer needing to fight with the canvas. Jean-Jacques Lebel’s radical experimental theater. Paint as sound. Yves Klein. How she felt when Joan Mitchell moved to Paris. Details behind David Hockney’s double portrait. Gregory. Tout Paris. Giving up every color for black.
Having decided not to be a singer, actress or rabbi, Goldfarb went to the Arts Student League on a scholarship and modeled for art classes. There she met and married Gregory Masurovsky, an artist and printmaker. When they were told “You have to see the Mona Lisa at the Louvre, it’s part of being an artist!”, Goldfarb and Masurovksy took off for Paris with a hundred bucks. Falling right into the bohemian art scene when they arrived in 1954, they turned a three month visit into their permanent address.
When I came to France, I was much more physical with the canvas. That was probably due to Jackson Pollock, whom I had met several times at the Cedar Bar in New York. The tachisme I worked with came from the fact that I was very shy in life and therefore expressed myself aggressively on canvas.... I had a great need to put everything down on the canvas, to fight with the canvas, to do SLAM, BANG with the brushes, and to make the paint scream on the canvas.

Orage (1955) Photo: Randee Silv
This was easily seen in the early gestural pieces exhibited: La Lutte (1955),Orage (1955), Where Angels Got Lost & then Left (1957) and Fire & Water (1959), as her dynamic strokes swept through determined layers of paint. Intricate and fierce, Untitled (Nude Male Figure on verson)(1950), hung above the installation displaying event posters, personal items, photos, small paintings and opened sketchbooks and journals. On the bookshelf was a video of home movies.

Living in France, I don't fight as much with the canvas. I am far more lyrical... When I arrived in Paris in 1954, I was only impressed by Monet, not by contemporaries, except for several Americans. For me, Monet was Paris. Light... I went through a revolution here... I realized they were one and the same thing. The same idea of space... Monet changed my way of seeing... I mixed it with tachisme, the aggressiveness I had picked up in America...
Evident in her large-scale canvases, White Painting (1962) and Pink Painting(1964), Goldfarb deliberately compressed her broad strokes into smaller gestural variations of rhythmic dialogues, inviting viewers to converse if they’d like. Deciding to put aside her brushes, she began conducting the paint directly from the tube. It was curious to note how Goldfarb strategically placed “spots” of color with a palette knife in Yellow Triptych (1966) that visually travelled back and forth in circulating motion that came in and out of focus.

Yellow triptych (1966) Photo: Randee Silv
I am fascinated by the naked applications of paint that engulf the entire surface and produce extremely sharp sensations because the material is never uniform, never conquered, never tamed.... From a pictorial standpoint, this multiplicity of approaches impressed me, those incessant comings and goings where something unravels, breaks apart and returns, and then advances.... That's what fascinates. It's like a complete diary with an infinity of paths.
Each touch of paint reflected the next in Yellow Painting #7 (1968) as she allowed each to diligently accumulate, slowly, into a pattern of moments responding to her daily events with a precise and ordered direction. You could almost smell the buttercups that grew in her yard. I could sense her need for an even quieter serenity.
Now I am producing monochromes and I wonder. When Yves Klein produced his monochromes, did he think the way that I think when I produce monochromes? Do all monochromists think about the same things...? Everything comes down to a single gesture, a single color. I have become a very solitary being. Even in public, at a party, a cafe, in the street surrounded by all those people. I am very much alone. Now my painting, which contains only one color, is an expression of this solitary existence. When I write in my notebook (diary), it is most certainly to write that I am alone. I place several words in my notebook the way I would place paint on my canvas. When I used to engage in tachisme, with many colors, every color represented peo-ple I was surrounded by.

Yellow painting #7 (1968) close-up Photo: Randee Silv
As I walked towards the silence of her painting, White (1979), I was drawn into following the repetitive sequences of lines as they intertwined with the emptiness of the canvas, unassuming dabs of white paint, all the same, all different with varied thicknesses that slightly overlapped, an imprint of deep considerations as her palette knife hit the surface of the canvas with a very gentle wisping movement.
I often wonder why I have changed. Why does anyone change? Maybe because, back then, tachisme was in vogue and I belonged to a group of Americans who were engaged with it.. When I left the group, I began to change.... I do not know why I practiced tachisme. Was it because of Pollock, because of other Americans who might have influenced me, like Franz Kline, Philip Guston, Mark Rothko. In America, when I painted as a student, I was a nobody.... When I came to Paris, I felt that I had become myself in my painting.... For instance, I did an all white painting, six by ten feet, with a palette knife, and I forgot all about this impressionism, this tachisme, this expressionism.... I now needed to walk through the canvas, one step at a time, with my knife, one dab of paint after the other. It's as if I were writing a long letter....
In 1956 Goldfarb had her first one person show at the Studio Paul Facchetti, where Pollock was introduced to Paris in 1952. She showed with Joan Mitchell inSome Americans in Paris (1957). Paris galleries exhibited her work. French critics acknowledged her. "I once told David I was having so much fun living in Paris that I forgot to go back to America and get famous."
The Minneapolis Institute of Arts did give her an exhibition in 1967 after she taught that year at the College of Art and Design there. In 1996, she was invited for a solo exhibition at the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, D.C. From 1971-1980, Goldfarb wrote extensively in her journals about whatever she felt, her chance meetings as a “bistro junkie” and the last years before her death. These texts were eventually compiled by Masurovsky and later adapted into to a one-woman play directed by Caroline Loeb and performed to sellout crowds in 2001.
David Hocknet
David Hockney: Shirley Goldfarb and Gregory Masurovsky (1974) courtesy SFMOMA

I walked to the studio for an encounter with Betty Parsons which was poisonous to say the least. She hates my ‘personnage’ and will never show my work even though she insists it’s ‘beautiful.’ If she were not responsible for some income for Gregory I would have thrown her out. But if somebody helps either of us they are valuable for survival. I am écoeuré from today’s encounters and it can get worse. It is a gorgeous hot summer day.
“Shirley Goldfarb continues to be Shirley Goldfarb,” read a line in a Frank O’Hara poem. A critic once wrote that “Goldfarb was not a very original artist.” I tend to differ. Maybe if I’d only taken a quick glance at her work, I might have agreed.

I want the world to be free to see my paintings and read a different story in them. It would be great if one thousand people could look at my painting and each one would write thoughts down about the painting. Each person would think something different. That to me, is the most wonderful thing in the world: to know so many different thoughts could be generated in each one of us.


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Shirley Goldfarb retrospective, (April 25-June 8)