Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Bad Painters

In his short story titled “Still-Life” in the April 9, 2007 issue of The New Yorker, Don DeLillo has a great line about the social graces of the artist (or lack of). When the art professor mother of a woman begins to question the behavior of the woman’s ex-husband, the woman shoots back with: “Tell me this. What kind of painter is allowed to behave more unspeakably, figurative or abstract?” Much of art history is a rogues gallery of bad boys and girls, but I’d rank them as equally unspeakable in terms of behavior, with Caravaggio leading the way for the figurative artists and Pollock heading up the abstract artists. Even the chalk portrait of Caravaggio above looks menacing.

(BTW, the great thing about a DeLillo short story in The New Yorker is that it always presages a new DeLillo novel. Falling Man releases this May 15th.)

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