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So what are you waiting for?

Post #1187 • June 3, 2008, 2:28 PM • 8 Comments

The mighty Terry Teachout recently purchased a lithograph by Arnold Friedman, who didn't register with me for some reason when Teachout reviewed an exhibition at Hollis Taggart in 2006.

As for "Arnold Friedman: The Language of Paint," I've seen it twice, and I plan to go back a third time. Among other things, I want to take one last look at Friedman's "Sawtooth Falls," a 1945 canvas of the utmost splendor. It's on loan from the Museum of Modern Art, but I've never seen it there, nor do I expect MoMA to hang it any time soon--unless, of course, they can find an empty stairwell.

He concludes with a sentiment I can get behind:

I pass on this story both to share my delight in my new acquisition and to inspire those of you who long to try your hand at collecting art but suffer from the mistaken notion that you have to be rich to do so. Two hundred and forty dollars for a limited-edition lithograph by a chronically underappreciated American master strikes me as a damned good deal. So what are you waiting for?

Friedman could be quite good, evincing some of the flickering fussiness of Bonnard and a This Could Be Chinese sense of contained weightlessness that one might find in Balthus. The print shows that the artist looked good and hard at Seurat. Googling turned up a Mario Naves review of the same show with some background on the man:

Friedman liked to vent his spleen by writing on the backs of his canvases. One note reads: "Modern aestheticism with its obscurantism and obfuscation bears the same relation to the theology which haggled hotly over the number of angels that could dance on the point of a needle and has about the same influence on art as it did on true faith." The artist had little patience for orthodoxy, fashion or "the American collector (and dealer)," though he was magnanimous enough to note that a "few exceptions ... are cheerfully granted."

Sounds like my kind of guy. Congrats to Terry on his purchase. So, what are you waiting for?




June 3, 2008, 3:52 PM


I have too much art that's unhung as is. I doubt that any of you will be surprised, but I have a hard time taking down old favorites to make room for the new ones. And when you have to share decisions about quality with someone else, it's even trickier of course.



June 3, 2008, 4:00 PM

Neo-Modernism or no Neo-Modernism I would rather look at the image of
"Cholla Fever" by David Wolfe from the Gerald Peters Gallery on page 137 from the recent "Art In America" issue over any of your "Picks". Runny squishy paint is over rated. Pollock was a sham!



June 3, 2008, 4:19 PM

I just discovered that his artwork was among Hollis Taggart. I must admit that I appreciate his abstract style the most. It's interesting to read about his history and learn how many styles influenced him.



June 3, 2008, 5:19 PM

Some of these David Wolfes are pretty decent.


Cedric Caspesyan

June 3, 2008, 6:56 PM

If I buy something that fits on my wall, usually that's not a good sign. And I'm not speaking about size. Great art would look ackward in your living room. It will have the aura of something that ought to be seen by everybody and is being irrelevantly misplaced.




June 4, 2008, 6:27 AM

Greenberg liked Friedman and wrote about him a few times.

The Wolfe paintings are nice. It is unusual to see very tight realism on a 5x7 foot scale (Paradise Redux) that doesnt get sour or "stony" looking.


Chris Rywalt

June 4, 2008, 9:33 AM

My father jumped into art collecting a few years back. He wandered back out again -- my dad is like that -- but for a few years there collecting art was his passion. Because he lived in Staten Island, NY since he was married (I was born and raised there, alas) he was interested in Staten Island artists, and one in particular was his favorite.

John A. Noble lived and worked on Staten Island for a long time (our lives overlapped by 12 years). The museum named after him is in Snug Harbor, a place I used to play when I was young. Noble really felt regular people should be able to collect art, so he spent a lot of time creating lithographs. My father started out collecting those, which at the time -- maybe ten years ago -- sold in the US$300 to $500 range, but which in Noble's lifetime he'd traded for drinks or dinner at local bars. My dad owns pretty much every litho on the museum's print page. Eventually he even got his hands on at least one oil painting.

Now I'm the owner of Splintered Spanker
of the Molfetta
(it's on my dining room wall).

There are a lot of "forgotten" artists out there whose work can be collected very inexpensively. All you have to do is find one you like.



June 4, 2008, 3:03 PM

There's no shortage of good affordable art, except for those who are really after an autograph or a trophy or the hot item du jour. It's amazing what can still be had for quite modest prices in the field of graphic work, for instance. It makes the outrageously bloated prices of much currently trendy stuff look even more absurd, not to say obscene.



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