Catalog essay for the exhibition at Duke University Museum of Art, October 3 - November 27, 1983, pp. 7 - 23.
This exhibit comes to us under the fairly accurate but not very evocative title "Paintings of the '50s from the Hirshhorn Museum: Another Look." An exhibit is a selection. Selections of art are usually made in terms of quality or type, or both, implying that a particular painting is one of the best, or is representative of a time, a style, or an artist. This show, like most, does a little of both. It does not give us all the best. No show which has no Pollock, no Motherwell, no Newman, could hope to. And it will not begin to tell us what was "going on" in the '50s, any more than a show of Impressionists will tell us what was "going on" in the 1880s, because so much happening at any time in the past is forgotten now. Alfred Barr, so I am told, said in 1953 that Ben Shahn was the greatest living American artist. There's no Shahn here, nor would his presence be likely. Where are Lee Gatch, Karl Knaths, Cameron Booth, Okada, Rivulo, Grillo, Bluhm, Katzman, Heliker, Donati, Walter Plate? All good and serious artists apparently slighted by the merciless hand of history, all very much on the scene in the '50s, in the galleries and on the pages of Art News. All unlikely to be here.
This show is a slice of the '50s, with a strong and natural bias toward that which we presently think is best. These are the paintings I might have seen as a fledgling painter coming up on the train from Princeton on a Saturday afternoon in 1956 with an impossibly long list of shows checked off on a page of gallery listings torn out of the back of Art News. The '50s, when these paintings were painted, was the time of my apprenticeship; from 1952, when I began drawing cartoons for the Princeton Tiger Magazine to 1958 and 1959, when my work got original and consistent - "mature," as they say. These are the paintings that taught me how to paint and what it meant to make good art. So I'm going to write about what it was like growing up as an artist twenty-five years ago, and how I felt about these paintings when I was little older than most of the students who will see this show.
It was different back then. Not just the art - that goes without saying - but the atmosphere we entered. We naturally dreamed of fame and glory, of being Picasso, but we expected rejection and neglect, and we came to terms with our expectations rather than our dreams. We assumed if you are good, you sweat it out. Becoming a star, the necessity of becoming a star, was not at the core of our ambition. Success was suspect. We asked: if he's good, why is he making it? Today the question is: if he's good, how come he's not making it? Now that commerce has thoroughly suffused the art business "making it" is ever so much closer to the ego of a young artist, and if you are not up there by the time you are thirty you measure yourself a failure, as if the market is the measure. We just got irritated. It was their fault, not ours. Maybe we were whistling in the dark, but it kept us to the business at hand, which was shoot for the best and the market be damned. It was, I think, a higher ambition, and no less intense.
And no less painful and competitive. As young artists eager to emulate and outdo the showing artists, the artists you have a sampling of here, we were unsparing. We saw what the market liked, but if it did not measure up artistically - and most of it didn't - we said to hell with it. Our opinions were often unstable but always fierce. Very few of the students seeing this show can know what School of Paris meant to us, those miles of sweet, soft-cubist canvases infesting the galleries back then, just as "New Expressionism" does now. That's what the collectors bought, and the museums showed. It was not for us. Nor can they know how oppressive de Kooning became, less through his painting than his followers, who multiplied in the late '50s like amoebae in a still pond, thousands of painters thrashing paint about, muddying colors, being "expressive." We made sour jokes about "self expression." It was enough to make one want to be "cool," and we did. But that's another story.
We didn't take School of Paris seriously as art. But de Kooning and Kline were the one-two punch of Abstract Expressionism, so we set them up as the True Enemy. Both showed at Janis, the main fortress of heavy-duty Abstract Expressionism, and their reputations climbed to preeminence during the '50s even as their art declined. I had first seen de Kooning in reproduction in the late '40s, one of those white-on-black paintings, influenced by Pollock. I liked it. By the time I began looking at de Kooning in the galleries he was doing the "woman" paintings. They were a sensation in the art world. Everyone talked about them. To some they signalled the long-awaited "return to the figure." To others they were a betrayal of abstraction. (Abstraction was on the defensive then as now, but then it had the cachet of being "avant.") I didn't care one way or the other about the figure. What bothered me was the paintings. They seemed frantic, disconnected, held together by the image, if at all. Later, in the mid-'50s, when the image had escaped, it seemed only frenzy remained. Still later, when de Kooning enlarged the breadth of his stroke, I felt that the pictures had lost in character what they had gained in unity. De Kooning, like Picasso, is comfortable in small scale, with the graphic and the linear, things that come easily to hand and eye. Woman (1953) shows how good he was in modest size; it is tight, muscular, swinging, laced together. Years later I figured out that Pollock caused the mischief, the all-out large-scale Pollock of the late '40s. I think those paintings of Pollock's stuck in de Kooning's craw, and drove him in those early years, drove him, time and time again to paint beyond his means in a scale which defied his ability to come to terms with it.
We saw Kline as de Kooning's back-up man. Some of us liked his pictures. I never did, though I admired them. There was a certain lack of felicity about them, a coarseness I never felt in the other good artists of the time, not even in Pollock when he got clunky. And I suspected Kline's inability to use color, a suspicion I felt was proved out when he tried to use it, in the late '50s. Kline's bichromal scheme was a counterpart to de Kooning's woman image. Both were attempts to impose unity on a large scale format imposed by ambition rather than artistic necessity. Pollock was successful in large scale because he threw, dripped and spilled his paint, thereby increasing the length of his stroke to conform to the larger canvas. De Kooning and Kline, and most of the other Abstract Expressionist painters, tried painting very large pictures with techniques which had evolved for easel painting. Pollock's decision to paint the way he did shows artistic genius going by the problem at hand rather than by tradition - how it "should" be done. I recall a commercial artist friend raging about Pollock in the early '50s, not about the abstraction - he had some regard for Pollock's "decorative" talents - but about Pollock's technique. No way! he fumed, can great art be made without a brush.
Kline's retention of the brush for large-scale painting forced him to build his large black shapes with relatively small strokes. As long as the simplified color scheme concealed the multiplicity of strokes Kline was safe, up to a point. But when color came in, the colored sections chopped up the black-on-white skeleton, threatening fragmentation and collapse. Cubism let color go, and color had to in return dissolve Cubism to bring itself to the fore. Look at Louis's Point of Tranquility 1958, formed from flowing colored liquid, which stops where it wants to, not at the limits of the human arm. Or, at the opposite extreme, Still's January 1951, wherein masses of color accumulate from tiny strokes pushing bits of paint across the canvas, stretching it along like moss growing slowly over a rock. Both abandon Cubism to embrace color. Affective color is not necessary for good painting - Cubism shows us that. But the resistance to affective color of the expanded Cubist style of the leading Abstract Expressionists seemed symptomatic of its weakness, and seemed to us, in the '50s, to argue that the future was inviting us to leave Cubism behind.
Ironically, Hans Hofmann, the one artist who found a way to bring high-power color to medium-stroke Cubism, didn't interest me at all at the time. Much later, after I had seen how very good Hofmann was, and had written about his art, a trustee at a midwestern museum condoned their want of a Hofmann by saying he didn't like those "Mexican colors," reminding me all too vividly how I had felt years before. I didn't like those "Mexican colors" either, although I saw them as "German" colors, like German Expressionism, which I also didn't like. And I didn't like Hofmann's juicy Cubism. Just like School of Paris with a sour German flavor, I thought. Not to my taste. Well, it just goes to show how little taste, "good" taste that is, the taste of our expectations, has to do with seeing great art well.
Composition III, 1953, with its painted oval, is an eccentric picture, as so many Hofmanns are. It was painted before the time of the greatest pictures. And it is relatively small and hasty and "scribbled." You can often zero in on a Hofmann and say demeaning things about it. But put it up on the wall and it will knock the pants off the competition. I've seen this happen several times, most notably one day in 1975, while I was organizing the Hofmann show for the Hirshhorn. I came by an exhibit by accident - the best way to be pleasantly surprised is to happen on a show before you decide what to expect - and I saw a Hofmann which I had rejected out of hand for my show hanging with Gorky, de Kooning, Kline, and the rest. My first take was "there's a not-so-hot Hofmann." My second was that the not-so-hot Hofmann was hotter than anything else on the wall. Even when he fails, and he did often enough, Hofmann is so good.
We were indifferent to most of the other Cubist-Abstract-Expressionist artists represented here. I remember seeing them all and liking some. None really affected me as a painter; none made me want to run home and "do it that way." Bob Goodnough, as I remember, was a favorite of Art News in the late '50s. They picked one of his shows as "Best of the Year." I thought Goodnough was OK, but tame. The advocacy of Art News, which was the principle journal for advanced art, only fueled our doubts. (Again, how different from today!) As with Hofmann, it was easy to miss out on Goodnough, albeit for different reasons. Hofmann looked lush, garish, and European - things we loved to hate. Goodnough, on the other hand, looked too plain Cubist, too easy, too run-of-the-mill, too "dismissable." It is humbling to look back and see how good he was and how far off we were about the very character of his art. And it is upsetting to see the abject neglect accorded Goodnough today. He remains one of the best painters we have with us.
Brooks and Tworkov were very much on the scene back then, in the group shows and the magazines. Brooks is a marvelously skillful painter who always seemed to paint with ease. I never saw a Brooks painting which didn't look that way. Maybe that's the problem, for I've also never seen a Brooks painting that really pulls up tight and takes hold. They seemed then, and seem now, fine painting unburdened by inspiration. Perhaps this is too harsh. Come back to those days of yesteryear, to 1956, say, when Altoon was painted, and you'll discover how delightful it was to come on a Brooks, like a fresh ocean breeze, amid the abundant dreariness of a Whitney "Annual" or "Young America" show. You have to hand it to the Whitney. They are consistent, year in, year out. An editor friend who is an art buff, after seeing twenty years of retrospectives and group showings at the Whitney, calls it "The Graveyard of Reputations."
Tworkov was another consistently good painter of the time who held little interest for me then and looks better now. The Bridge, 1951, is a nicely engineered small Cubist-Expressionist piece, typical of his work of the early '50s. I think he got much better toward the end of the decade after he developed a muffled repeated "feathery" stroke which compensated nicely for the natural divisiveness of Abstract Expressionism's Cubist underpinnings.
Marca-Relli and Mitchell were also very visible in the '50s. Marca-Relli, so it seemed, was making it big. We weren't convinced. We thought his working method of forming linear edges by collaging cut canvas with black paint was a gimmick, and he became one of a group of artists for whom we reserved special disdain in the face of critical and market approval. I think we overdid it; the picture here looks pretty good, especially if you put it up against what's coming out of Soho these days. Mitchell's continuing success, on the other hand, has always just baffled me. I felt then that her painting embodied that frantic incoherence I saw in de Kooning with none of de Kooning's wonderful cursive draftsmanship. She is still in the swim of things, more than most of the other living artists here, in the Whitney shows and the like. Her painting has not changed much in the intervening years, and neither has my opinion of it.
Only an aspiring twenty-three-year-old artist knows the strong and painful emotions that come up when a powerful artistic ambition struggles against an awkward, unformed craft. We prowled around the galleries and museums and devoured the magazines, swiping bits and pieces of style, puzzling over and usually misunderstanding how and why this or that artist did it. This is the stuff of artistic evolution, the way generations knit the strands together. Other artists' styles and methods became materials, literally, just like paint and canvas. They were picked up, handled, discarded, mixed, changed, manipulated for the moment's need. In our day - especially for me, with no formal training - the art world was our master, and we scavenged, like seagulls, whatever we could ingest.
In late '56 and '57 I was out of college and in New York City, painting pictures jammed with half-digested hot licks out of Abstract Expressionism. Like so many young painters I allowed my ambition to overload my art. Although I had no idea then that my painting was headed for radical simplification a couple years down the road, I did yearn for clarity.
Tomlin showed me a way to delineate a painted unit within the overall scheme of Abstract Expressionism, and I worked with that for a while. But it wasn't enough. Some time later, after travelling in Europe for a while, I began taking notice of Stamos's paintings. I didn't think he was that great, but he showed me something I wanted: a simplified pictorial structure which retained the expressive brushy stroke I was not ready to give up. It looked like a good way out and I tried it. My first fully realized paintings were done under this influence.
Every move up is like gaining the crest of a hill: you see more changes, different problems. All-over Cubist-Expressionist painting, the method of de Kooning, Kline, Tworkov, Brooks, et. al., did not eliminate the need for pictorial composition, but it did alleviate the problem of placement by providing a skeleton to hang the picture on. Before Cubism placement was provided by subject matter; one arranged the still life, not the painting. Cubism seduced painting into abstraction by providing a very strong system for composition, subjugating affective color, which, as I have said, had to erode Cubism to get back into advanced painting. The consequence, in the '50s, was all that dreadful brown and tan latter-day Cubist painting full of Cubist chunks with expressionist licks between them, trued up to the edge and glued to it here and there, safe painting, painting at anchor. Painting we don't see here. Whenever abstract painting tried to get away from Cubism it found itself naked and alone, bereft of structural system and deep space, and composition. Where to put what became the first order of business.
When I took my cue from Stamos, from paintings similar to Black Spring 1958, the problem of composition hit me right in the eye. He showed me how to make a nicely articulated brushy form, but where to put it? How many of these painted parts can I put in the picture before it gets jammed up and turns into something else? How much of the canvas can be painted field, how much painted "parts"? If I cover the field with bright color will it stifle the forms? These questions came up in a hectoring half-conscious stream, constantly, relentlessly, like anti-aircraft fire. A picture may be worth a thousand words, but it is made up of ten thousand decisions.
If I had come to this a year or so later I might have taken a lesson in symmetrical placement from Gottlieb's "Bursts." But in 1956 and '57, when I was struggling out of the grip of Abstract Expressionsism, when Bias Pull 1957 was painted, Gottlieb did not interest me that much. I'm not sure why. It certainly seems he could have, even should have. He was a better artist than Stamos. Maybe that was the problem. Young artists often take the easy path to direct influence. And the very best artists are often hard to see when you are younger. I didn't see how good Gottlieb was until several years later, after I had evolved a symmetrical style of my own. I'm still finding out how good he is. Like Hofmann, he keeps beating the competition.
The influence from Stamos was strong but short-lived. I soon found his use of color deficient. All-over Cubist-Abstract-Expressionist painting, like small-scale classic Cubism, favors relative uniformity of hue because color variety would overload a surface operating almost exclusively in terms of a complex system of spatial variegation. My painting suffered from such an overload before I took up the simplifications I found in Stamos' painting. Once simplified. I wanted color to come in. Stamos filled all that elegantly painted space of his with black, white, and cadmium red, for the most part, perhaps unconsciously conforming to the Abstract Expressionist penchant for reduced and clarified color variety. He had nothing to tell me about color. Rothko did, but I'd been through that influence a couple years before, and I didn't, and still don't, like what Rothko was doing in the late '50s. And I was not ready for absolute symmetry.
Late in 1958 I came across a full page reproduction of a Clyfford Still in Art News. It was very red, as I remember, but otherwise like January 1951. Still was not as visible in the galleries and museums as most of the other artists here. I heard he was difficult and reclusive and had trouble with dealers. But the availability of an artist's work is sometimes less important than your availability to it, when it comes to you, in whatever form. That reproduction really hit me. I needed to see it when I saw it. Just as Stamos showed me how to simplify the picture, Still show me how to enrich it. I was entranced by the simple logic of Still's method, how fully the method conformed to the medium, the paint meandering around the flat surface, pushing and creeping along. Covering, poking, breaking, closing, intermingling. It was so direct and natural. It looked like composition simply took care of itself, because differentiated areas seemed to evolve as a by-product of the movement of paint. One could just smear little bits of paint around, nudging them here and there, changing colors now and then, and sooner or later a painting would appear. This was all wrong, of course, as I found when I tried it. Organizing a picture is never automatic. That Still himself was consciously and actively worried about composition and placement is in evidence here. January 1951 is compositionally almost identical to a painting entitled Number 3, 1951, which travelled in the "New American Painting" show the Museum of Modern Art sent around Europe in 1959, a coincidence hardly possible if composition was being "found" as a consequence of process. It is to Still's credit that his paintings looked that way. It testifies to the high artifice of his style. And even now I feel that his method, if not his art, points to the future.
The third artist of the present group who affected me, after Stamos and Still, was Helen Frankenthaler. That influence came about through one painting, Blue Territory 1955, which I saw in a museum group show around 1957. It was more thickly painted, expressionist and directionally composed than Basque Beach, but not dissimilar. I never understood what it was about the painting which got to me so strongly, or why it hung on so long, but I suspect it had more to do with me than with art, something from early childhood which favored pale colors, a preference which found its way into my paintings soon thereafter and stayed for ten years.
Frankenthaler's stained light colors, though quite the opposite of Still's dark crusty fields, were just as much an adaption to the new problems coming up In abstract painting, and had a direct and lasting effect on advanced artists, such as Noland and Louis. Compare the Frankenthaler to the Brooks. They are about the same size. Both are broadly painted abstractions with easy-to-take hues of blue, tan, and the like. They are similar in character of composition and stroke. The chief difference is value contrast - light and dark are much more pronounced in the Brooks. Furthermore, the Frankenthaler is much less opaque; the paint is thin and stained in, more like watercolor than oil paint. This has mechanical consequences which stand behind effects of appearance. Pictures which build with opaque light and dark have more severe structural obligations than pale transparent pictures because the areas they contain are more visually definite. Impermeable surface and clear-cut edge demand to be seen and treated as delimited entities, and the fact that they are built emphasizes placement and composition. A pale transparent painting, on the other hand, has a certain unity imposed by the overall lightness within the frame and can be more casual about placement and composition. The Frankenthaler, for example, can be seen as stained, wet, runny, glowing, thin, light - like clouds or vapor, like things that float and shift, deform and transfigure. The consideration of structure is de-emphasized because the character of the elements of the picture is less structural, and the effect on viewing is to diminish the relevance of placement in favor of substance: light, color, and the various attributes of the painted surface. It is, in a word, freer.
Every gain is a loss. By working with stained paint Frankenthaler gave up opacity, and by giving up opacity she gave up the means to cover and recover and correct as she went along, because, as anyone who has worked with water-colors knows, piling transparent washes on each other makes a mess. Morris Louis - one of the few artists here to come to my attention too late to have much effect on me during my apprenticeship - wrestled with that problem, making wonderful pictures along the way. His best paintings were made after he committed himself to flowing, spreading unbrushed liquid pigment, a step further than Frankenthaler's lightly drawn scrubbed stain, and two steps away from the opaque, brushed, constructed methods of the Abstract Expressionist painters.
Louis is interesting as a painter. Most of us start a picture with a general idea of what we want and then play it by eye, and if we are lucky we surprise ourselves and get something better than we intended, and pick up on that and take it from there. This may seem haphazard to the non-artist, but that's how it's done, and that's how art gets better. Usually, that is. Louis seemed to know exactly what he wanted and set about working out how to get it, like an inventor with a clear goal. Point of Tranquility 1958 is one of the first "Florals," which followed the "Veils" of 1958. The "Florals" were Louis's attempt to separate pure colors out from the flowing intermixture of the "Veil" image. When contrasting pure colors, particularly complementary colors, run together, the hue and often the strength of each single color is diminished and tends toward muddiness as mixing is compounded. Great art can be made this way; the "Veils" show us that. But when most of the colors show bright and pure, any mixed area, such as the center of Point of Tranquility, becomes a different type of color surface with a distinctly different character, emphasizing that area of the painting at the expense of the pure color the picture comprehends. The "Florals" were the working out of this visual enigma. Point of Tranquility suffers less than most; it's a real beauty. But don't miss seeing the "Unfurleds," where Louis gets everything together by taking it all apart.
Pop art as an explicit movement dates back to the early '60s, but the idea, the "feel" of Pop has been with us since Duchamp, and was in the air from the early '50s, in the paintings of Larry Rivers, and then more brazenly in the work of Rauschenberg and Johns. When Pop burst out all over in the Spring of '62 I was amazed. It looked like such an arrant rip-off of these artists. That's not the way it was seen, however. The art world only yells "rip-off" when it doesn't like something. A rip-off the art world likes is called a "new trend."
I'd seen Rivers around in the '50s. His art struck me then, and still does, as admirably facile but thin and cold, redeemed, if at all, by its eccentricity. His Pop mannerisms, extreme for the early '50s, neither bothered nor amused me. They bothered the art world some. I recall a few gross portraits of naked fat ladies, some with labeled body parts, which were a bit of a scandal. I did have a fling with the more extreme aspects of Rauschenberg's art of the late '50s, particularly the illustrated collage and the idea of repetition. I was quite taken with it. Leo Castelli once offered me a Rauschenberg collage with a pencil transfer of Lincoln and lead wine bottle caps and lots of other ephemera. The price was $125, and Leo said I could have it for $75, but I had to pay my rent so I passed. If I had it now I could pay off my mortgage with it.
That fly-in-the-face-of tradition spirit of early Pop was very seductive, especially to a half-baked young artist. But in the end only the idea of symmetrical repetition in Rauschenberg - and in Johns, though Johns struck me as too "slick" - stuck with me as a usable artistic device. I was utterly uninterested in later Pop, '60s Pop, and it wasn't long before I saw how weak Rauschenberg was whenever he got anywhere near "real painting." Pleasant, yes; likeable and obvious, as popular art usually is, but soft, flaccid. The collage in the show is a good example: tame, illustrated latter-day Cubism, almost student-like in its enervated derivativeness. I recall doing crits up at Syracuse, seeing a large photo of a collage on the outside of a student's stall, assuming it was her work and saying to myself "how in hell do I say anything encouraging about this" before realizing it was a poster for a Rauschenberg show. It all happened in about two seconds. These are the experiences which confirm our taste, or at least its sincerity.
In 1959 and 1960 all the influence and working-out I had put myself through brought me to my first consistent and individual work. It was very symmetrical, pale and super simple: a single pastel rectangle centered on a pastel ground, or a circle, or a band around an edge. I started hearing about Albers then. Everyone assumed he was an influence. Often I was asked if I had studied with him at Yale. Albers, like Loew, and Kelly, was among the few to stick to "hard edge" through the expressionist '50s. The style was very "out," but usually taken, and judged, as left-over Bauhaus. It is the habit of the art world to judge by label in order to misunderstand the art. In vain I explained that what I and a few friends were doing had nothing to do with Albers, or Mondrian, or Bauhaus, or constructivism, or even, we contended, with relational art at all - as if there was any other kind. I don't even recall having seen an Albers or a Kelly before I started these paintings, though I must have. They were not influences. Nor were they "confirmers." The big Newman show at French & Co. in 1959 was a "confirmer." Seeing those Newmans, especially one very large blue one, made me feel that I was not alone, that there was an artist of real stature out there who felt, and demonstrated, that great art could come out of a few clean-edged, evenly painted color areas, nothing more. Albers and Kelly and the rest of the "hard edge" painters always seemed respectable enough, good artists working out their art, that's all.
Reinhardt was another "hard edge" painter of the time I cared little for. Number 88 (Blue) is an early one. By the time I was seeing him he was painting the so-called "black" paintings, wherein the rectangular areas were so shaded with black admixture in the color that it was difficult to distinguish one from the other. I rather liked the idea, being then in my moment of youthful die-hard anti-expressionism. But one painting spoiled if for me. It was in a museum, MOMA I think. It was hanging by a window, and it had a wrinkled corner which by reflecting the window's light off the oily black surface, became the only visible pictorial incident. That did it. I went home and wrote "no Reinhardt!" in my sketchbook. I think it was a solid judgment.
It is good to see a show like this, and to write about it. It keeps me up on the '50s and makes me check my taste now against my taste then. Despite my reevaluation of Hofmann and my belated recognition of quality in others, most of the changes seem in the spirit of refinement and deepening of feeling, of enhanced recognition rather than outright turnaround or discovery. And when I go to my bookshelf, as I did often in the course of writing this essay, to look at the old catalogs and long-forgotten "Art Now" books of '50s, it is astonishing how clear it was, even then, what had value, and how much, how very much, did not. Universities should have a course in bad art. Pick a year: 1900, 1936, 1955. Put together a couple hundred works, art that was in favor. A Whitney Annual. You'll quickly see how little has merit. And 1983 is no different. In view of the rise of aggressive amateurism and the current across-the-board intimidation of taste, it may be worse.
"Paintings of the '50s from the Hirshhorn Museum" is not all great art, but most of it is way better than the other art of the time. I say "better" without equivocation. It is better, period. Art, as art, is value, human value, brought down into materials. Value is not a matter of taste. Getting to it is. Taste is the name of the facility we use to get at value. It is individual, imperfect, various, corrupt, undeveloped, unexercised, and so forth. So we get to what is good in art in these sundry ways. But the value itself, the artistic goodness, is not "subjective." If it were, there would be no such thing as great art, only preference and fad, forever. Seeing art well, getting what it has for us, judging it properly, is almost as difficult and certainly as personal, personally felt, as making great art, and it is one of the world's great pleasures. It is a shame to cheat yourself of it by getting caught up in the circus, as so many do, as the art world does.
Go at art hard. Be demanding. Work on it like an athlete. Keep in practice. Reflect on your feelings. Change your opinion as much as you rely on it. Listen with your ears; judge with your eyes. Recognize great art, don't identify it. No one else can do any of this for you, any more than they can experience it for you. It is your true feeling exercised on the mass of today's art that works to carry the best of it forward to tomorrow's generation. History is in your eyes. Go to it.