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Post #408 • November 12, 2004, 10:33 AM • 36 Comments

Alfredo Triff for the Miami New Times: Life Is a Comic Strip: For Victor Muñiz it's a countercultural banquet with a sense of humor.

The Miami New Times: Current Art Shows.

Jason Budjinski for the Browar/Palm Beach New Times: Artbeat.

Gary Schwan for the Palm Beach Post: Armory exhibition features 23 artists, many of them local.

Michael Kimmelman plummets in my estimation by opening his review of the Raphael show at the National Gallery, London with "I have never entirely got Raphael" and closing it with "...Rembrandt bugs me, too." I could tolerate either as one of those quirks of taste that we all have; both together indicate a real deficiency.

See you there: tomorrow night I'm having a closing party for my show at Dorsch, complete with bands, and Jacin Giordano opens at Snitzer.




November 12, 2004, 8:39 PM

Rembrandt BUGS ME? Is that the best a "name" critic for the NYT can come up with, BUGS ME, and as a closing line, no less? What is this, the Peoria Examiner? Isn't anybody editing this guy? I thought that, in the recently linked Duccio story from the NYT, the misspelling of "pre-eminent" as "pre-eminient" was a fluke, but now I'm not at all sure. Again, what is this, Street?



November 12, 2004, 8:45 PM

Kimmelman is an ass. He's the one who went so gaga over the Dia foundation and their minimalist monastery up in Beacon NY that we saw nothing but news about it for weeks, a year or so back.

it is typical at his level of perception to fail to see how good or not so good the art is in order to indulge a taste for particular characteristics, for "naturalness" vs "majesty", in his own words. He does not even seem to have enough power of reflection to realize that he is merely a vehicle for currrent majority taste, and it leads him to groaners like "Leonardo was all about ambiguity and difficulty, about celebrating a restless, messy mind; Michelangelo was about quicksilver inspiration and heroic effort, the cult of his own genius." Any art critic who uses "All about" this way should be fined and put on probation. And then he gives one of the pictures a little bitty credit for a "human gesture" that "rings true". How sweet! And then he comes up with "He (Raphael) became the ultimate red state painter." These deserve 30 days in the pokey. Arrgghh!

Then he brings Delacroix in to testify that he, too, was tired of Raphael, without putting into context the fact that all artists of that generation had a desparate need to to fight their way out of the sweet, smooth, academic historical salon painting of the time which so shamelessly aped the Rapaelian method, even though it was hardly Raphaels fault. Kimmelman has no such excuse.

And Rembrandt bugs him, too. Good grief!

This is the main art critic ofour national newspaper of record, folks.



November 13, 2004, 2:36 AM

After reading the Kimmelman piece carefully, his angle seems pretty clear. This is condescension disguised as diffidence, with assorted "just plain folks" phrases thrown in to assure the "right" people that he's not some sort of Elitist (The horror! The horror!). I simply cannot believe this is the best critic that a publication with the reputation and/or pretensions of the NYT can manage to get, no matter how debased things have become--though perhaps it's worse than I thought. I still can't believe the "Rembrandt bugs me" number got through any tolerably competent editor, unless of course arts coverage is considered a trivial frill.



November 13, 2004, 5:41 PM

i went to see the muniz and wharton shows last night, after reading triff's rave reviews. i was pleasantly surprized by muniz' work, especially an energetic, wall length painting that had broader marks than the thin scratchy works on paper. i met the artist and complimented him on the wall installation, asking about his sources. r. crumb? absolutely. keith haring? you bet. phillip guston? never heard of him.

never heard of him?! at the risk of sounding like a snob or ridiculously dated, i have to wonder just what a new world school and RISD education actually buys you these days, other than a ticket to a show at a gallery in miami.

as for wharton, i was appalled to read that triff compared her earlier work favorably to brice marden's. there's no comparison at all in terms of quality or depth. to my eye her work is all about surface, even more so with the new installation which read to me only as glops of paint on a strange silver wall. chaotic? you bet. an example of her growth as an artist? hardly. i'd have to admit i don't get it at all, and can't resist adding: it bugs me.



November 13, 2004, 8:31 PM


You are neither a snob nor dated. Guston is a kind of culture hero to a whole younger generation of artists. I can only think that this guy was putting you on. If not, well, it cetainly would be startling that an exhibiting artist who went to those art schools would have that kind of big hole in his knowledge and experience of the art of the recent past.

I find more and more that young artists know almost nothing about art, even recent art, and almost nothing about the craft. They don't have to. Craft is in disrepute, and who cares about the old stuff. All they have to do is follow a current fashion, like the detached Warholean vapidness of Wharton's "glops of paint on a strange silver wall" and they will get shown. I wouldn't really care if the art they came up with was any good, but it isn't.

It bugs me too.



November 13, 2004, 9:10 PM

While I've talked to artists who know their art history, I've also talked to some that neither knew nor seemed to care--which, if nothing else, makes a VERY bad impression. I'm not referring to relatively obscure or minor figures who are mostly the province of art historians, but important names and even movements.

Obviously education, or lack thereof, is to blame, but the current climate clearly condones the attitude that "old stuff" doesn't matter, and we've seen that attitude clearly expressed on this blog. It is, in fact, not only ignorant but arrogant, and more significantly, extremely foolish--certainly if it is held by a practicing artist.


Alfredo Triff

November 13, 2004, 9:22 PM

Well, Tracy, at least we agree on Muniz's work. In Wharton's case, allow me to explain. Initially, her work was about the design... more so at the beginning. Her wavy colored patterns reminded me of Marden (and the comparison stops right there). Initially they were ordered, which may suggest, that the realization of her idea was too concerned with itself (here I follow Hegel's old point in his Aesthetics). She is more chaotic with this installation, less concerned with stability and I welcome that. I'm not raving, I merely said this is a "promising" development. Thanks for reading.


Alfredo Triff

November 13, 2004, 9:23 PM

(more so at the beginning) my typo.



November 13, 2004, 10:19 PM

Alfredo: Maybe you and Hegel can get together and explain wht means when "the realization of her idea was too concerned with itself". I can't figure it out.


Alfredo Triff

November 13, 2004, 11:12 PM

Hegel is also a good name for a cat. In case you are a cat lover Oldpro.


Alfredo Triff

November 13, 2004, 11:12 PM

Hegel is also a good name for a cat. In case you are a cat lover Oldpro.


Alfredo Triff

November 13, 2004, 11:12 PM

Hegel is also a good name for a cat. In case you are a cat lover Oldpro.



November 14, 2004, 1:13 AM

Wharton's work strikes me as essentially decorative, using glossy, synthetic materials. There is attention to design, concern with color, and more craft-skill involved than "glops of paint on a wall" would suggest to someone who hasn't seen it. However, her scope or range is limited, and the work, while easy on the eye and successful in its way, remains relatively superficial (an effect heightened by the slickness of her media).



November 14, 2004, 3:28 AM


I like cats
I like cats
I like cats

But I still don't know what you mean by "the realization of her idea was too concerned with itself".



November 14, 2004, 7:13 PM

It is typical to fail to see how good or not so good, all about ambiguity and difficulty. I can only think the art they came up with was any good...but it isn't that her idea was too concerned



November 14, 2004, 8:36 PM

Oldprr? I guess Hegel must be getting on.

No, it seems to be that the "realization" was "concerned about itself". I can't quite figure that one out. But then, I am behind the times, wanting things to make sense and all.



November 14, 2004, 9:47 PM

I too saw the Ambrosino show. Pablo Soria work is consistently good. However, I do not understand why Annie Wharton continues to do what she does nor why anyone would show it. Superficial, but I'm sure she doesn't intend that (i'm sure her artist statement is pages long and spun with issues). I guess it looks good in print, but can we talk content?She's the Ashlee Simpson of the Miami "art scene".

Can Alfredo Triff explain this or go into detail in a review of a show? What does the title have to do with the work shown? Pixie? Is she talking about her haircut? What's it all about Alfie?


F. Hegel

November 14, 2004, 10:16 PM

Verdammen Sie allen!



November 14, 2004, 11:12 PM

Betty: Kudos for asking A Triff to explain. A good review should be more descriptive than what was written. Maybe the show wasn't that interesting, in which case why would he bother. hmmmm. And now were discussing Hegel? Let's talk about the work.

I've watched from the sidelines, listened to Jack, Oldpro, catfish, GBR lament at the state of the Miami art market. And I have to agree with the majority of their concerns. We need an alternative. Much of what is being shown shouldn't. Franklin's show at Dorsh was one of the more interesting this year, but Dorsh's Sweat Lodge showings can be too uneven. ie: Franklin's work and the artist with the pencil drawings? Can't remember his name. Exactly. Miami is chock full of really good artists but it seems many gallerists would rather not do the legwork. Does Miami deserve what Miami gets?



November 14, 2004, 11:40 PM

Hey, Dharma. One of the Bums?

"Sweat Lodge" indeed. Maybe he should change the name of the gallery. Or advertise the largest sauna on the eastern seaboard: "Perspiration with Inspiration".

Or open only in December.

Of course there are plenty of good artists in Miami. The "with it" galleries would rather show crap that's in fashion than good work that isn't. (To Dorsch's credit some good work shows up there briefly, once in a while).

What the hell, if we don't want to say "good" then how about, "interesting". That's what my old professor in college used to say when he couldn't come up with anything better. Just something worth looking at, for whatever reason.

We deserve what we get.

it bugs me.

And Hegel: du too.



November 15, 2004, 1:23 AM

I just slew the double-posting dragon. You know that "click once" thing on the comment form? You should still just click once, but if you click more than that, the double posts don't appear.

I'm hot on the trail of the unclosed tags dragon.



November 15, 2004, 1:50 AM

Okay, using some code from Hovig that I completely fail to understand, the invalid tag dragon has also been slain. Thanks, Hovig.



November 15, 2004, 3:05 AM

Kudos to Triff for recognizing the strength in Whartons work. Pixie seems a rather clear title choice to accompany the glittery mural constructions shes showing at Ambrosino Gallery, and is one of the best painting shows Ive seen in Miami in a long while. I know nothing about the artist other than appreciating her works for a few years, but I wonder why Betty mentions her haircutis it really that important?



November 15, 2004, 3:12 AM

Um, the code the slayed the Invalid Tag Dragon killed a couple of innocent bystanders. I've bypassed it - proceed to use tags with caution.

Lots of newbies showing up this weekend. Welcome, everyone. Good to have you here.



November 15, 2004, 3:33 AM

oldpro: muniz was not putting me on about not knowing guston. but to his credit, he seemed interested and not dismissive at my suggeston to look him up. perhaps that was my good deed for the week. (month?)

jack: i agree that wharton in her paintings has tried--although weakly--to address issues of design/color and craft/skill. but go see the show at ambrosino; then let me know if you disagree with my believe it or not trying-to be-kind description of "globs of paint on the wall."

dharma: after zig-zagging through much of what the "wynwood art district" had to offer last night, i'd have to agree that much of what is being shown shouldn't be. but then i hate reading what i just wrote. shouldn't everyone have a right to work and, heck, if they can get a gallery to put it up good for them.

but then i think of the quote from oscar wilde (someone out there tell me if the source is incorrect, i haven't been able to verify) "All bad poetry is sincere."

i guess that's what i see in miami. a lot of energy, sincerity, ambition, attitude, and not much editing, thought, or discrimination.

franklin: nice show.

and PS: the lovely pencil drawings at dorsch are by dan weihnacht


another miami artist

November 15, 2004, 4:23 AM

what sometimes one sees here is the kind of visceral denigration passing for art commetary. i may disagree with triff sometimes, but he has managed to cover the miami scene --for years now-- responsibly. i think he was objective in his piece on wharton's exhibit. on the other hand, my gut feeling is that some artists are just bitter at the sucess of others and it shows in the language. why not address the art instead? i think the dialogue would be much more constructive and edifying



November 15, 2004, 5:21 AM

Another: Thanks for your input. I don't see the visceral denigration and art commentary as mutually exclusive, but in any case, some of the commenters here enjoy success in their careers. If you don't feel that the art is being addressed, please address the art. The forum is open - content therein depends on you. You sound like you have the writing acumen to make a great contribution.

Tracy: Thank you.

Oldpro: Perspiration With Inspiration is brilliant. I think Dorsch is showing the best stuff in town, and I would say so even if my work had never been in there. Estimates on the cost of air-conditioning that space, monthly, run into the low thousands, so it's not going to happen. You win some, you lose some.

Dharma: thanks for the props. I'd like to hear what kind of alternative you have in mind. I think about alternatives periodically myself.

Betty and other commenters on Triff: I like Triff enormously as a human being, and he just gave me a rave review, so I'm pretty much bought off when it comes to critiquing his work. I will say this much - his thinking is genuinely complex. He's not a pedant - his mind actually works like that. The drawback of this is that sometimes the situation in front of him isn't complex, and it leads him at times to make the kind of statement that Oldpro called him on. Nevertheless his writing is extremely sincere, in that it reflects the man. Meanwhile I freely confess to legions of failures in my own writing.



November 15, 2004, 5:32 AM

Tracy, I saw the Wharton show on opening night. Your description, while technically accurate, is potentially misleading, since it could be taken to mean that Wharton merely took some paint and mindlessly flung it at the walls, which is not what she did. She's too pattern-and-color-conscious for that. The work was carefully designed.

While discussing this show with an artist last night, he perceptively pointed out that using silver-gray metallic paint on the walls for a background, as opposed to something like a matte gray, was a mistake. I agree. The metallic finish was too much, it made the whole thing look too artificial and had a vague cheapening effect, something akin to using aluminum foil. Obviously that's just two people's opinion, and others no doubt feel differently, but I personally have a problem with work that strikes me as excessively artificial-synthetic-plastic. That's one reason I'm in no hurry to see the Marcaccio show at MAM, and it also helps explain why Jacin Giordano doesn't bowl me over.


that guy in the back row

November 15, 2004, 6:44 AM

Jack, another reason why the Giordano show didn't bowl you over was because it wasn't that good. These pieces were cold and heavy handed. This kind of stuff is reminiscent of what often gets selected for publications such as "new american paintings". Mostly laden with trendy slick and lifeless young charlatans who wouldn't recognize a piece of art if it bit them on the ass. Pick up a copy and be bored today!



November 15, 2004, 6:49 AM

jack: i agree with you about giordano's show. it left me with a great big: huh? perhaps it was the synthetics, but i think more it was the formlessness of composition. and perhaps that's what bugs me about wharton's work. i didn't mean to be misleading in my discription, but formless blobs is mainly what i see. there doesn't seem to be any greater rhyme or reason behind the work.

anyway, nighty-nite. thanks, all, for a good discussion.


shaolin soccer mom

November 15, 2004, 9:10 AM

holy motherfucking shit.

it looks like i've missed a lot of conversation. i just want to comment on one statement: "Estimates on the cost of air-conditioning [the Dorsch], monthly, run into the low thousands"

Ok, great. We all know that Dorsch does have AC in the back. RE the gallery, we're not talking about AC 24/7, just when the gallery is open. Let's run the numbers, shall we??!!?!?

Let "the low thousands" = $2,500
Let # of hours of AC per month = 24 hours x 31 days = 744
Therefore let's say cost of AC per hour is 2,500/744 = $3.40

I bring this up because dorsch is open 4 saturdays a week, 1 - 4 pm, and maybe one opening (7-10 pm), which gives us 3x5=15, so the ACTUAL cost of running AC while the gallery is running is 3x5x3.40, or [drum roll] . . . $51 clams a month, AFTER the initial investment in equipment, which i'm sure is considerable.

And after all, what the fuck do I know / / / i'm just an anonymous hack. PLUS I fail to take into account whatever time it takes to cool the air down leading up to 1 pm on Saturday (esp in August).

But whatever. Dorsch is a great space, and a great place. That it's not living up to its potential is obvious to anyone who's ever been there during non-winter. That it's a money-sink for Brook is a fact (right?). It follows that installing the damned AC would make everyone happier, and would have at the very least an off-chance of paying for itself. Brook has shown that he is dedicated to his gallery, his audience, the Miami art scene, his artist, and "the kids" in general. We KNOW he has the money. What's the problem?



November 16, 2004, 1:34 AM

I'm not sure that I would infer that an artist's knowledge/education is poor just because he hasn't heard of Guston.

Besides, I think that more appropriate references would have been the (graphic novel) artists Robert Williams and R. Crumb. Or perhaps (painter) Peter Saul's drawings. Guston is not so much about the line as he is about the paint.

For some reason, references to Guston seem to me to usually be served with a side order of in-crowd/out-crowdishness.



November 17, 2004, 3:41 AM

Jack, thanks for admitting you don't like synthetic is this sort of contextualization that will allow readers to see your point of view from theirs. The Fabian Marcaccio show was really strong, though, you should try to see it and then make your determination...and (like it or not) Giordano is, along with Annie Wharton and other young South Florida painters like Raymond Saa, Gabriel Delponte, and Kiki Kiriakas (spelling?), putting Miami on the international painting map.



November 17, 2004, 4:05 AM

That's Kika Karadi.



November 17, 2004, 4:13 AM

Um, just for the record.


Fresh Paint

November 17, 2004, 8:01 PM

Interesting that Kimmelman doesn't like Raphael either. Peter Schjeldahl in latest New Yorker reviews the show apparently with a gun to his head, since he finds Raphael too pretty.

Doesn't anyone like Raphael any more? Or do we just think we have to, because he's part of our Art History curriculum?



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