Good Artists Borrow

David Hilliard at Yancey Richardson Gallery

David Hilliard at Yancey Richardson Gallery

I am an old-fashioned artist.  Or at least I always thought I was, toiling in obscurity, using archival materials, drawing and painting figuratively.  I disdained factory artists with their fabricators and color-matchers, endlessly hiring art-school graduates and stealing their souls to make soulless art.

Then I took a real look around my studio: digital camera for making camera lucida drawings; my paintings turned into fabrics (by fabricators!) and wallpapers; the new tripod I bought for my iPhone so that I can make video documentation of some of my works in process.  (Planning a big dish-breaking party this week – need shards for a new idea.)  Sometimes I use Sharpies and acrylic paint.  The horror!

Okay, so I’m not as pure as I’d liked to think.  And just like other artists, I don’t just use modern materials and methods, I also use modern ideas.  Especially ones gleaned from other artists.

Yes, apparently Picasso really did say, “Good artists borrow, great artists steal.”  That was hardly reassuring to Braque, I suppose, but it is the way of the art world.

So here are two artists, whose work I recently saw, and whose ideas I am borrowing.  Today.

David Hilliard’s amazing show The Tale is True is on display at Yancey Richardson Gallery through February 16th (535 W 22nd).  I’m not usually much of a photography fan until I see photographs so beautiful, evocative and masterful that they stop me dead.  Go see the Hilliard show, and you’ll know what I mean.  Often presented in triptychs, you think at first that you’re just looking at pictures.  But look longer and you’ll see the overlap that implies time passing.  Then you’ll notice what is in focus and what is out of focus and you’ll know that yes, that’s how we all think, but Hilliard has actually managed to show it to us.  These are large photographs that you can get lost in, and you will.

What am I going to steal from him?  If I’m lucky, the subtlety of his distortion, and his sense of loneliness and family.

Enrico Riley at Giampietro Gallery

Enrico Riley at Giampietro Gallery





At the Metro Show Art Fair (which was terrific and sadly ran only from the 24th to the 27th) I came across a wonderful painter, Enrico Riley, at the booth of Giampietro Gallery of New Haven.  Riley’s paintings are reminiscent of Willem de Kooning’s figures and Jean-Michel Basquiat’s wild-child paintings.  They are simpler than both, sometimes more abstract, but sometimes less, with amazing color and line. They were just the reminder I needed that it was time for me to return to oil paint and oil crayons.

We all learn from each other, and I want to thank these two artists for pushing me into my studio this morning with new ideas and fresh enthusiasm.