Saturday, November 28, 2009

B. Kliban Speaks

“There’s a lot of sham, pretense, greed, narrowness, and stupidity in the art business, probably as much as you’d find in medicine or insurance. A ‘legitimate’ painter who does something mildly amusing is suddenly a great humorist, like ‘serious’ novelists who cop an idea science fiction writers have been kicking around for years are suddenly startling visionaries.

“I consider myself a surrealist who happens to like the area of humor. If I didn’t, I’d probably do bizarre things that were deadly serious. I was a very serious painter. That was bullshit.

“Somehow, the idea of art and really funny stuff doesn’t fit. I’d love to see a fine painting by Titian or Leonardo that was really silly; a Venus with false nose and glasses and duck feet. Those esthetic assholes would be going crazy forever, wondering, is it art?

“Steinberg, the greatest cartoonist ever, had a big show at the Whitney Museum. Hilton Kramer, the art critic for the New York Times was wondering is it really art? And he’s one of these turkeys who will accept as art an Andy Warhol copy of a Brillo box that Andy Warhol never touched. And so what if he did, anyhow?

-- Jumping Up and Down on the Roof, Throwing Bags of Water on People, by Mark Jacobs, Doubleday & Co., Inc. (1980), pp. 57-58.

ADDED: For some strange reason, I recall this post at Althouse.

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