Pictures Sam Makes

Sam McKinniss, Joyce Carol Oates, 2023, Oil on linen, 20 x 16 x 1 1/2 inches
Photo: Hannah Mjølsnes via Blum & Poe

Blum & Poe are not splitting quietly. They just opened “Pictures Girls Make,” a show of portraiture curated by Alison Gingeras that looks fantastic.

The title comes from Willem de Kooning, a derogatory quip about his wife Elaine’s portrait practice. So of course there’s an excellent, faceless portrait of Frank O’Hara to start the refutation. A rocky Gertrude Abercrombie self-portrait, Beauford Delaney’s glowing yellow painting of an unidentified man, and a spare, muted picture of John Ashbery by Fairfield Porter are just some of the unexpected vintage treats. It’s an unusually literary show.

Sam McKinniss, Lana Del Rey reading The Paris Review, 2023, ed. 25, 30×22 in. sheet, via TPR

But when Benjamin Godsill and Nate Freeman on Nota Bene were discussing Sam McKinniss’s new print to benefit the Paris Review [9/10/23, around 30:00], Godsill absolutely went off on Sam’s portrait of Joyce Carol Oates, “The greatest artwork I’ve seen this year.”

Literally cracking up in response, Nate goes, “It’s a perfect Sam McKinniss painting, because it’s a painting of a subject, and it’s a painting of so much more than that”

“And it’s a tough picture, but it’s so well done, it is really, absolutely fantastic.”

I have had a no-engagement policy with JCO for my entire tenure on Twitter, but as that world falls apart, I will make an exception offsite, for Sam. Because it does rock rather intensely.

Pictures Girls Make: Portraitures, curated by Alison Gingeras at Blum & Poe LA runs from 9 Sept til 21 October 2023 [blumandpoe]
Does Lana Del Rey read The Paris Review? []