WPS1: Picking up speed, and not just because I'm on it

Ok, they're definitely getting the hang of it. This week, WPS1 broadcast an archival MoMA artist panel that was, in retrospect, formative to me, one of the art events that really resonates with me:

In 1994, Kirk Varnedoe hosted Richard Serra, Brice Marden, and Francesco Clemente in a discussion of Cy Twombly. I went for the Twombly and Marden, but I stayed for the Serra.

Through sheer intelligence and what I later came to recognize as great panel stunts--tossing off the exact measurements of a 1959 Twombly canvas as if he'd memorized the catalogue raisonnee, witty tie-em-up-with-a-bow metaphors and descriptors--he OWNED the evening.

One offhand comment he made haunted me for years, how art history since had been based on a misinterpretation of Cezanne. By about the third time I talked with him, I finally had to ask what he'd meant. He politely pretended to remember what the hell I was talking about, but he didn't, in fact, have some deeply revisionist art historical theory lurking beneath his thick paintsticked hide.

[In painful contrast, Schnabel was there, too, on the front row, pointedly not on the panel, but nevertheless he put himself on it with a rambling self-congratulatory statement about "Cy" and "Cy and Jasper" that took up a big chunk of the q&a.]

I asked my question of Marden, though, and his reticence bit me in the ass. Clemente jumped in and mis-answered my paragraph-long question--the last of the evening. Marden asked me to repeat it, to groans from the audience. For his answer, I'll just say, let's go to the tape. But over a year later, I got stopped on the street and asked if I was the guy who'd asked that question at that one MoMA event. And then he laughed at me.

In any case, Marden taught me that making highly successful work doesn't automatically mean he has to talk very garrulously about it; if Marden could convey everything he wanted to in mere words, he might not need to paint.

In another future-historical broadcast, WPS1 also has Yvonne Force, Tom Eccles, and Anne Pasternak talking for an hour about laying casino carpet in Grand Central.

And last but not least, Steven Schaefer interviews Danish director Per Fly about his new film, The Inheritance.

Since 2001 here at greg.org, I've been blogging about the creative process—my own and those of people who interest me. That mostly involves filmmaking, art, writing, research, and the making thereof.

Many thanks to the Creative Capital | Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Program for supporting greg.org that time.

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first published: July 18, 2004.

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