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RESPONSE TO ESTERA MILMAN ET AL.
By CLAYTON PATTERSON
|Mails February/March, 2005|
I must apologize for taking so long to respond to Estera’s inquiring mind. I have been very busy, with promoting the art show, putting together a reading for this weekend, finishing a book for a publisher, and a lot of other nonsense. I needed this to spend my time on this response like I needed a new hole in my head. The newspaper is still on the street, and I must send the article out to the waiting public.Thanks Clayton
On Monday, February 28, 2005 19:59 Estera Milman wrote: Although professional courtesy makes it impossible for me to author the solicited "letter to the editor," I would, nonetheless, like to thank Clayton for sharing David Katz's article and to offer the following "inhouse" response to his own well intentioned, albeit short sighted, attempts to "get [Boris Lurie] a little recognition in America," and to Katz's "Boris Lurie: Uneasy Visions, uncomfortable truths [sic]." First, I would like to remind Clayton that his use of the word "America" is somewhat less than politically correct, as such seasonal shifts in PC fashion go. Even loosely described, the Americas encompass (at very least) two continents; one in the Northern hemisphere, the other in the Southern. "North America" is composed of the United States and Canada. Despite the unabashed provincialism that has long informed the world view of many New Yorkers (including some Manhattanites of the counterculture persuation), truth is, the boundaries of the United States, in turn, are drawn with a brush somewhat broader than Greater New York City; even the location of the shifting epicenters of the US artworld are contested, from time to time. For example, sometimes there is LA, Chicago, or even Miami, Saint Louis, Houston, and/or Milwaukee (to cite but a few of many such undisputed power bases) to take into account.
I see the professional courtesy of not responding, as weakness rather than having any ethical or moral standing. I see it as someone afraid and burrowed in a deep hole in the system, with no commitment to the NO!art cause. A ruse to hide. Give me a break with this professional courtesy crap. What nonsense.
Furthermore (and perhaps more importantly) Lurie and Sam Goodman were very real players in the cultural politics of the early 1960s New York artworld and, believe it or not, received much more than "a little" recognition in "America," even within the discourse of the 1960s and 70s. Both of these two aforecited misperceptions are evidenced in David Katz's uninformed and (perhaps, inadvertently) patronizing narrative.
And it is Boris who pulled me into the family of NO!art. None of us were there in the 60's, certainly not me or Estera. I have a lot of documentation on Boris and our conversations, so my naiveté, is from hours of talking and documenting Boris.
In reference to the latter, I am not here simply criticizing Katz's misspelling of Jackson Pollock's name or his ahistorical, sloppy reference to de Kooning (who, even by the late 1940s was already very much a pivotal figure in the so called, "Abstract Expressionist" circle, right alongside Pollock); far more serious (although perhaps less embarrassing for the author), is Katz's representation of of NO!art as "visceral reaction to Abstract Expressionism and Pop Art."
Listen to the tape and the interview with Boris, before you bring out your tiny dull axe. This conversation came from Boris’s mouth not David’s imagination.
Leaving the relationship of NO! to Abstract Expressionism aside, there is little question but that, at the outset, NO! and Pop were parallel phenomena; it was not until Pop became the artworld's self proclaimed anointed successor to Abstract Expressionism that NO! assumed an oppositional (that is not to say "reactionary") stance. If, as Katz has done, you cut the historical legs out from under something, you marginalize it. Both Patterson and Katz are doing Lurie (and NO!) a great disservice by deliberately not building on things that preceded their own personal involvement and agendas, and by not honoring and respecting the very things they should be building on.
Oh please show me where this invisible Estera is coming from. Show me the Estera commitment to the movement or Boris, or Estera’s real academic understanding of the historic roots of Boris’s painting. Does Estera really believe that this art is coming from a study and a deep relationship to American painting of the period? Please. And Fuck Dada. Estera is a Johnny-come-lately to the movement. Make no mistake there are people in the protest movement of today who are slowly becoming familiar with No!art through my promotions and exhibitions. Tell Estera that at least David and I got a message out to the world. Show me the feedback from Estera’s work. Outside of getting paid for her NO!art project, she is doing nothing. If you work on something everyday, you make a few mistakes but you move forward. You lose a few battles, but the war continues. Instead of Estera trying to be a mentor, she thinks that she is a hit man, or a monster. Go ahead. We will exchange shoots. Estera could have written a letter and included her educated comments and thereby making the NO!art movement larger. Estera could have done something positive. NO, she has some sort of internal need to think that she owns, controls, or understands NO!art. Instead of helping, Estera, in using some excuse of PC correctness and has attacked. Good. We are outsiders. We welcome your attacks. I mean really, what does that serve? It is more intelligent? For Estera’s information. David wrote a newspaper article. He is a newspaper writer. He is not in the Whitehouse Press core, sitting, listening to the same people everyday. Look up some newspaper writers ask them about covering an event. Newspapers are deadline, get the work done and in. I am very pleased that I got David to do the piece. His whole contact with NO!art, is from books that I showed him, and art work, and from the exhibition at my place. He is not a specialist in No! art. He only met Boris one time. The information that he used is from Boris’ mouth. Criticize Boris for the historical inaccuracies. Boris only lived the life. What does he know? We are spreading the message of NO!art and Boris Lurie. We are moving the movement forward. David is a journalist. I agree now with Gertrude when she says Estera is just trying to build a career on NO!art. There seems to be a controlling, angry, devious person hiding under all those leaves in Connecticut. What is Estera trying to do here? Other than build a career, being academically dishonest with Estera’s facts of the modern history of No!art, what is the Estera agenda?
As an aside, it is interesting to note that in 1961 de Kooning became the much lauded, paradigmatic progenitor of "assemblage," and that the broader subset "assemblage, environments, and Happenings" (within which NO! served as one important component) were all simultaneously discounted/marginalized by the New York artworld in the mid-sixties based on their then understood relationship to "old Europe." If Lurie had, in fact, singled out de Kooning by the mid-40s (as Katz suggests), I would sincerely like to know.
Why didn’t Estera send an intelligent letter to the editor? Estera is claiming to be an art history expert. Why could she not have expanded the consciousness of the newspaper readers towards NO!art. NO! instead she personally attacks me. Good.
In all the mailings I have received that presented themselves as updates on Boris' health but in effect were vehicles to disseminate information about the group show at the Clayton Gallery & Outlaw Art Museum, I have not gleaned even the slightest acknowledgement of, or even nod to, the pivotal role the Gallery Gertrude Stein (New York) played during NO!art's historical collective period or in the more recent past; nor have I noted even the whisper of a deserved credit line to the Janos Gat Gallery (Madison Avenue) which (as I understand it) generated the very prints Clayton is marketing and, not too long ago, successfully facilitated some very substantial "recognition" for Boris in Artforum. Having said that, I would like to move on to Milman.
First of all, since Estera did not have the decency to ask, this was a newspaper article about the present art show. Only so much information can get into a newspaper. Neither Gertrude nor Janos has seen the show. The article is about getting people to an exhibition and giving information about a show, with as much content as possible about Boris. It is not a Ph.D. thesis. For anyone who has done press, I was very lucky to get two pages in the Villager, a paper that incidentally, has been around for 100 years. Newspaper articles are very helpful and I am most thankful that David did the most he could do. How could I ask him to do more? Hey, David, take a couple of years off, take a class from Estera, then write rewrite this article. Letters to the editor can further promote the show. It is a chance for others to get involved. Janos could have written and said he made the prints, or that he has also shown the work. What is the big deal with that? Get involved. Janos has still not seen the exhibition. Why then, would David include him in the article. Matthias wrote a letter. So did Gertrude, even though she is not inclined right now to push NO!art, but rather her Russian show.
On Friday, February 25, 2005 23:44 Lincoln Anderson wrote:
On Thursday, February 24, 2005 18:02 Gertrude Stein wrote:
On Friday, February 25, 2005 23:45 Lincoln Anderson wrote:
On Thursday, February 24, 2005 18:17 Gertrude Stein wrote:
O I hope that this answers Estera’s question about Gertrudes opinion of my NO!art show. Gertrude keeps telling me she is no longer interested in NO!art. Matthias, letter I emailed out to a lot of people. I included Matthias that way. I include Dietmar.
Methodologically speaking, Katz's lengthy citations from his interview with Lurie are difficult, if not impossible, to distinguish from the author's own voice. (Incidentally, the Archives of American Art does not even make transcripts of interviews with living artists available, on site, to the general public without first allowing the artist being interviewed to review, modify and/or approve or reject the transcript.
Please, we are talking about a newspaper here. We are trying to get recognition for NO!art, which has never been recognized by your art world inner circle. I do not aspire to be a part of that world unless something radically changes with the leadership. This is a new millennium, a new century, so things, hopefully, will change and we are expecting to be a part of that change. From the outside, not from the cozy inside. But It baffles me how Estera is so ill informed as to the actual reasons for NO!art’s very existence. Has Estera never talked to Boris. At the very least actually read the dam Villager article. If nothing else Boris is clear in that article. Boris’s statements to me about the show in Spain are clear. Estera wake up. Get Estera’s nose out of other people’s ideas, in the brotherhood of academia protection, with the repeated same thoughts and ideas in the brotherhood books. If Estera is not going to listen to Boris, then tell Estera to make an original analyses. But it would be better to understand what the horses mouth said. What Boris is saying. Read that dam newspaper. Boris is radically opposed to everything that Estera is talking about. Doesn’t Estera get it? Stop trying to sanitize, clean-up, PC and neuter all of Boris’s work. It is not Steven Spielberg. It is not Popllack. Boris’s work comes from the soul. From a deep dark place that is too scary for Americans to visit. Stop with this need to comfort yourself, in American art history relationships.
Since Katz's blurring of boundaries between his voice and Lurie's and his decontextualization of Boris's statements as these purportedly appeared on his notes/tapes are highly problematic, I would caution him to follow normal protocol prior to the appearance in print of his "more comprehensive interview" in the London-based Jewish Quarterly.) Embedded in Katz's narrative are propositions that are directly (albeit naively) appropriated from my own 2001, National Endowment for the Arts-funded publication "NO!art and the Aesthetics of Doom (copyright, the author and The Northwestern University's Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art). While, as a much published historical theorist, I cannot help but be somewhat amused by Katz's assumption that my argued propositions (with which Boris initially did not agree) are "truths," I nonetheless find his blind appropriations to be unethical.
Talk to Boris about this. David is a newspaper reporter. He got his facts from Boris. I am sure that David has never heard Estera’s name.
Conversely and from an historiographic perspective, it is just possible that he himself did not have access to my catalogue essay (and thus could not cite it, as is normal practive) and instead simply appropriated these propositions as they were recounted to him as "truths" by Lurie himself.
True. All came from Boris. I am not even sure that Boris has Estera’s catalogues. I have never seen or heard him reference them.
If, in fact, the conceptual armature of my work has entered the everyday consciousness of one of my historical subjects, I would very much like to know. The blurring of boundaries between primary and secondary literatures is not to be taken lightly by anyone whose life's work is the analysis of the history of the authorship of our histories.
I have no idea who Estera is. I am not a part of that world, not do I aspire to hang with these people.
Back to Clayton. As Clayton is well aware (and despite what I know is his anger toward Northwestern University) "NO!art and the Aesthetics of Doom" was the first comprehensive, historical retrospective exhibition of the collective's historical period, to be mounted in the United States.
On behalf of David, he at least spoke to Boris and got a first person account. After our initial meeting Estera has never spoken to me. Estera obviously has a complex group of ideas of what I think about Northwestern University. I could care less about that institution. It means nothing to me. My malcontent came from Estera’s dishonest history of Boris. She excluded anything I had done with Boris. My first person account of the show was from Gertrude who told me that the Estera’s conference was way off base, and that Gertrude would not attend and thought that Estera was making a career on Boris’s back. My last first person account, was from Ami, who felt that most of the people who attended the show /conference were up tight. Ami interviewed some people at the show who felt that they had no connection to the movement, but were happy to be in the show. I documented a number of people who were considered part of No! art. I will not get into that here, but I will bet Estera is out to sea on a number of these people, and where they stand in the movement. How dare Estera talk about what I like and dislike without ever asking me what I think. Where is Estera’s questioning mind. I never made an attack on Estera’s about Estera's show.
When the show opened in the Greater Chicago area immediately following the 2001 terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, The Chicago Tribune (read, The New York Times of the Midwest) singled out the exhibition as the antitheses of "comfort art" and as representative of an art that "stimulates [and] rouses.. art as provocation... as the nation girds itself for a long a difficult struggle against terrorism" (November 4, 2001). In addition, on January 4, 2002, the Chicago Reader (read, the Village Voice of Greater Chicago) published a full page, laudatory review of the NO!show describing the exhibition as "one of the best [Chicago area] exhibits of 2001." Critic Fred Camper writes: "Indeed, much of this work registers as a call to action -- those these artists admitted they had no solutions." Neither the "Trib" nor the "Reader" felt it necessary to play what Ami Eden (Senior Editor of The Forward) recently called "the Holocaust Card" (see "Playing the Holocaust Card," The New York Times, Op-Ed. January 29, 2005). Nor did Lurie, Goodman, Stein, Gat, Reichelt, and Milman.
I have played the holocaust card. One of the claims of NO!art was to be the first group of holocaust artists. Not to play that card is like taking the pop out of pop art. Look at the Hundermark book, the NGBK book. Have someone translate some of Boris’s poetry. Does Estera honestly believe that the holocaust is not a part of Boris’s psyche. That the dismembered woman is about making a perfect painting? The yellow working with the red? A de Kooning look alike? The chains around the rose and the shoes is only about anti-Greenberg aesthetics? Thankfully the Germans talk about the holocaust. It is intellectually dishonest to make all of Boris’s work into anti-abstract expressionism. That response is only an academic’s insecurity, and a need for a reference. A vehicle to fit in. Go to Dora with Boris and talk about abstract expressionism, or pop art. Boris is screaming to be hear. He has a message of demons, and evil, and dark angels. A message of death and tragedy. A message of insanity and social mental illness. A message of sheep. Boris is a reminder. A tortured soul. Boris is the carrier of the burden for all of us. He is a giant among men. A true warrior. An outlaw. A renegade. A pure artist of the highest order. Boris is an original. Fuck all those CIA sponsored abstract expressionists. Listen to the screams, look at those haunting paintings.
About CLAYTON PATTERSON: Born in 1948, in Calgary, Canada. Studies of art and design at various universities.Fights against the injustice of state-authorities. Since 1977 exhibitions in USA, Europe and Asia.In 1994 he organized the first NO!art show in his gallery after 20 NO!years. Took part in the NO!art-box multiple at Edition Hundertmark in Cologne, 1996, and in the NO!art-show at Janos Gat Gallery in New York in 1998.Works as Documentary-, Anarcho-, and Tattoo-artist in New York together with his wife Elsa Rensaa and various social groups.Owns and runs the most voluminous and important NO!art video-archive.Lives in New York. | MORE