I begin this column already in a sour mood. This morning, my horse-riding neighbours churned up the running paths that meander through my beloved Amagansett dunes, turning my usual half-mile jog into a four-hour lumbering death march. Then, having scraped myself of ticks and settling in for a well-earned drink, I was horrified to see Peter Schjeldahl’s New Yorker piece weighing in that the Detroit Institute of Art should sell off its entire collection in order to pay lazy old people’s pensions. To be absolutely frank and not mince words... I disagree.
I know, it’s not an easy thing to say. And furthermore, in the spirit of my disagreement, I would like to take this opportunity to call for The New Yorker to fire him. Yes, you heard right. Fire him! I know some of you are probably saying, “Jonathan, doesn’t that seem unduly harsh? Do you really want him to lose his livelihood and all that entails simply because you disagree with him in this one particular instance?
I wouldn’t dream of manufacturing indignation for my own personal gain
Especially after the years of enjoyment and the intellectual nourishment you’ve received from his writing?” Or maybe you’re asking yourself, “Hey! This wouldn’t have anything to do with Schjeldahl’s review of your New Museum retrospective, would it? The one in which he lamented that ‘the egomaniac on a downward slope is a pitiful thing indeed’?
Hmmm. Maybe you’re even thinking, “Wait a second! Is it possible that this concerns the 28 late-1980s Grossmalerman paintings the museum currently holds that would do no one any good should they suddenly flood the market, as admittedly the late 1980s wasn’t Grossmalerman’s strongest period?”
No it doesn’t! Stop saying that!
I wouldn’t dream of manufacturing indignation for my own personal gain. I don’t use this column to bully my enemies! That would be unethical, and I’m sure it would be breaking some sacred ‘Journalist’s Oath’. After all, I haven’t called for Jerry Saltz to be fired! Even after our ‘crab cake altercation’ at that MOMA opening. The one that left a waiter and two junior curators ‘horribly’ blinded simply for the crime of being between Jerry and a bank of news cameras.
My suit was absolutely ruined. I also have it on good authority that he impersonated me to get into the Jay Z Picasso Baby video shoot. Imagine my embarrassment at the door to see my name already checked off the list! And Jerry looking uncomfortably back at me from the crowd inside. Unable to meet my gaze before slipping into the frenzied ecstasy of Jay Z’s genius. I was crestfallen.
I had been so looking forward to the chance at being seen as a prop, childishly starstruck by his celebrity. Giddily fawning over Jay Z as though he were some sort of fantastically expensive ‘art piece’ in a ‘gallery’. A person as ‘art piece’! Imagine!? And to lose my spot to that weedy little creep! Maybe they should fire Jerry Saltz.
No. That’s wrong. If I was really the sort to use my column to settle old scores, I’d spend the rest of it decrying that awful Paul McCarthy mess at Hauser & Wirth... and the Armory... and just about everywhere else you can think of. But I’m not going to do that. Although I do think he risks being overexposed. If he’s not careful I’m afraid his work is going to lose its aura of exclusivity.
hy, just the other morning I came across a discarded Paul McCarthy sculpture under a bench in the park... at least I think it was a Paul McCarthy sculpture. Come to think of it, it didn’t really smell like contemporary art. In any case, I can’t be the only one who thinks this whole Disney, mustard and ketchup shtick is getting a little thin. OK... here I go. Hauser & Wirth really should fire Paul McCarthy.
That’s what they should do. And if by firing him that just happens to leave a spot open for another middle-aged male artist obsessed with hot fucking, so be it. Other than those three, though, I’m pretty much fine with everybody... well, except for Gary, my server at Bostwicks’s Chowder House in East Hampton, who acts like he’s never seen a man in restaurant with paint on his hands, lips, neck and face area. Fuck that guy!
Actually, now that I put my mind to it... there are quite a few people I would like to have fired.
This article was first published in the October 2013 issue.