Art Vent

Letting the Fresh Air In

Steve Martin

Art Vent Letting the Fresh Air In

December 7, 2010

I’m off to LA on Friday until the end of the month, and never know what that means for blogging. Could be more, could be less.

I’ll leave you with this link to an article about the MFA creative writing culture that Ken Johnson posted on Facebook, saying, “With minor changes, it could be about art.” Both are institutional programs whose primary objective is self-perpetuation. The only difference, really, is that we don’t have two visual art cultures—everything goes through New York. Or does it? Can you get a teaching job with a local reputation? Where the writing programs concentrate on more easily achieved short stories, rather than novels, visual art programs encourage the art equivalent by not being nearly rigorous enough. It always amazes me what gets by.

I wasn’t going to mention Steve Martin ever again (really!) except that in his apologia in the Times on Saturday (where he errs on the side of earnestness—a boring piece about whether or not he was boring is rather likely to make us think he was) he refers to Times writer Deborah Solomon, as an “art scholar.” I won’t say any more. Yes I will. I first got on her case when I wrote a review (ARTnews, May, 1997) of Utopia Parkway, her biography of Joseph Cornell, where she delved into the details of the artist’s sex life, quoted from his very personal diaries, interviewed ex-girlfriends, and went on at some length conjecturing about what it took for the man to achieve orgasm. An art scholar would have known better.

And finally, apropos of nothing, I’ll share some quotes from Thom Yorke I found when I was looking for another quote and didn’t find it, something to the effect that “when you get famous you go up your own arse.” But these are also worth repeating even though, because it’s the Web, no one feels the need to tell us where they originated:

My girlfriend has this quote in her sketchbook: "Remain orderly in your life so you can be free and chaotic in your work." I think basically you lose it when you destroy your brain or destroy yourself emotionally or burn yourself up.

It's easy to be miserable. Being happy is tougher - and cooler.

People sometimes say we take things too seriously, but it's the only way you'll get anywhere.

December 2, 2010

The reason I’ve been reading so much lately is because I’ve been laid up with a cold. However yesterday I read a book that was guaranteed to make me sicker: Steve Martin’s novel about the art world entitled, Times article describing how Steve Martin and Deborah Solomon's talk at the 92nd Street Y bombed to the point that attendees were monetarily compensated. The reason given was that they talked too much about art, but given how little understanding of art both have demonstrated in their writing, methinks it was the content rather than the subject that sank them.

Another concurring review.