Wednesday, December 30, 2009

David Levine -- December 20, 1926 to Yesterday

David Levine, called by The Times, in its majesty, a "biting caricaturist," died yesterday. I bring it up because, push comes to shove, he and I labored in the same fields. Consider this:

And this:

The first is a self-portrait of Levine. Although, truth be told, when I first saw it I thought it was William F. Buckley, Jr.

The second is, of course, "Self portrait #2 (That Boy Could Sure Eat Some Beets)". By yours truly. Obviously.

I love his portrait of Lyndon Johnson showing us his scar. While perhaps not perfectly rendered, the scar itself is in the shape of South Vietnam.

Things I'd buy if I had a little more money

I was walking down the street with both my children the other day and passed a big, fat, white Mercedes S-series sedan with a shiny black panel that covered the entire roof area. If I had more money I would definitely buy that thing. I'd love to know what's going on with that roof.

Additionally, I'd like some larger cereal bowls. The ones I have are on the small side and when you fill them with my usual mixture of a layer of Cheerios topped with a layer of the version of Go Lean kashi that looks like twigs, then pour in the milk, you get a kind of mini-diaspora of the kashi. Little bits of it jumping over the side of the bowl, leaping to the floor.

The solution is to lay the flat of your hand on top of the cereal and gently push it down into the milk. Once it gets wet, the kashi tends to stay put.

Or get a bigger bowl.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Things I've Learned from the Republicans

I've got two words to say to you: chicken and sauerkraut soup. Which we'll get back to in a minute. But first ... some things I've learned from Republicans.

This is Smokey the Dog--one of my key people on the ground in Park Slope.

I got a call from Chuck (one of the people Smokey lives with) a week or so ago saying that he was going out of town. Because of scheduling conflicts, he explained, he was hoping I could help him out with Smokey. I, being a good friend, said yes, of course (all the while desperately hoping it didn't involve babysitting Smokey for two weeks. That dog, I am hear to tell you, likes a long walk).

The plan, as it turned out, was for me to sit in Chuck's house after Chuck had left for the airport and keep Smokey company until Laszlo from Upstate could pick him up and take him back up to his Catskills dog-boarding facility, where Smokey would run and frolic with like-minded dogs til Chuck got back. All this happened yesterday afternoon, and it went off without a hitch. Piece of cake, as they say.

But--and here's the Republican part of the business--I realized shortly after Chuck made his request that there was some hay to be made in the transaction. Asking for money for a service like this seemed cheap and tawdry, but an idea soon dawned on me.

Everytime Chuck would call me up (or vice-versa), I would respond to the very first thing he said (Let's say it was something like "Hey Geoff, let's go see Sherlock Holmes on Christmas Day") with the words "You know, Chuck, this dog thing is a tremendous imposition."

"Hey Geoff, let's go eat some Indian food," he would say. "You know, Chuck, this dog thing is a tremendous imposition," I would respond.

Do you see the pattern emerging? The communications strategy (first forged in the darkest depths of Mordor, then hammered to a sharp edge by people like that guy with the southern accent who used to play guitar but died at a young age--I can't remember his name--and Karl Rove) is a simple one. No matter what somebody says to you, you respond with a carefully calibrated statement that has a strategic objective. No matter how much a non sequitur such a response might appear to be, you hit them with your statement.

By way of further illustration, there was, for example, a period of time a while back when it was nearly impossible for a Republican spokesman to respond to any conversational situation without saying some version of "I've never actually seen proof of Barack Obama's citizenship. Perhaps it would be a good idea to at least review the documents." You may remember this particularly loathsome time in American politics? It didn't happen that long ago.

And, dear reader, its not like the Democrats don't try to do the same thing. They just lack the evangelical zealotry required to make it sound convincing (Note to self: Consider a post titled "What the Republicans learned from the Evangelicals"). Over and over again you smite them. Without the slightest hint of irony. Nary a wink, I'm telling you. You just keep beating them over the head with it.

Another one that makes me smile, now, in retrospect, because the danger it represented has waned substantially, went something like: "You know, Sarah Palin actually has more administrative experience than Barack Obama does."

Insert winky emoticon here.

So, getting back to the matter at hand, I was delighted to notice that after about the 100th time I said "You know, Chuck, this dog thing is a tremendous imposition," I could feel the man starting to crack under the pressure. He called me up on Sunday, just to confirm the plans, and the second after I hit him with my strategic verbiage he said, "Oh, and by the way, I've left about half a pound of slab bacon, two quarts of chicken soup and a quart of chicken stock in the back refrigerator for you."

Ahhh, victory!

So last night, on my way home from Chuck's house, dog in the van, booty in hand, I stopped into Brooklyn Bakery and bought a crusty baguette. Later that night I had a steaming bowl of Chuck's chicken soup into which I had dumped a lavish serving of the sauerkraut I'd made the day before and watched the Vikings/Bears game.

I eventually turned it off at halftime, not giving a damn about either of these two teams. But I continued taping it. And so, when The Times, in its majesty, reported that the Bears won in overtime, I spent lunchtime watching the last two minutes of regulation and the full five minutes or so of overtime required for the Bears to win, all the while munching on some more of my crusty baguette and eating the lentil soup I'd made earlier today. Made, I should say, with some of the slab bacon and about half of the chicken stock I'd gotten from Chuck.

Ahhh, as they say. Victory.

I washed it down with a bottle of Rolling Rock. Which always makes me think fondly of Dot and Bill Winter.

Monday, December 28, 2009

How to assemble one of my paintings--A Tutorial

Just in case you ever wanted to know...

A couple of additional thoughts. Annotations, if you will:

1--When the top and bottom set of stretchers are removed, the thing is floppy. Avoid sharp objects (as noted in the audio) but also avoid sharply folding the painting. In both cases, you can massage these problems out, once stretched, but it ain't easy and sometimes yields imperfect results.

2--The idea of leaving two of the stretchers attached to the canvas means that, when you re-attach the other set, there are no concerns about getting things crooked. So long as you have inserted the stretchers in a way that creates a neat, even joint, everything will basically be fine.

3--You may notice that the painting is dirty. It's supposed to be. I call this patina. Keep in mind that any one of my annotated paintings has: a) been kicked around the floor of my studio while I paint it, and b) been propped up, for days on end, on the streets of New York City.

4--Early in the video you see me removing the canvas from the stretcher. Unfortunately, the mechanics of this are obscured by my left arm. The technique is to grab the canvas and pull it away from the framing. This, in turn, pulls the staples out and yields, if done correctly, a satisfying popping sound. On occasion you are left with a staple that remains stuck in the wood after you have pulled the canvas away. Use your fingers or, better, a pair of pliers to take it out.

5--Finally, don't be afraid to take the staples out and revisit a problem area. The corners can be tricky if you are not used to doing it. The take-away concept is that these paintings have been stapled and un-stapled probably dozens of times. So if you don't get it right the first time, just pull the thing apart and have at it again.

6--And a note of thanks to my daughter, Elizabeth, for her inspired cinematography.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Happy Birthday, Mom

Today would be my poor, dead mother's birthday. She'd be something like 90, had she not died a decade or so ago. Funny how I can name the day and year my father died (granted it was a much more recent event, and I was more or less sitting there, watching it, but still...) and not even begin to come up with the year Mom died. It happened in late May/early June, but beyond that, I'm at loss.

I had attended the White House Correspondents' Dinner in May that year and swung by the ancestral home before heading back to New York. She looked horrible--truly horrible. A week or so later, the phone rang too early in the morning for anything good to be happening on the other end of the line, and she was gone.

It always annoyed her that her birthday fell so close to Christmas. Ever since she was a girl she'd figured she was getting short shrift. But the Redskins are playing the Cowboys today, and she would have liked that. Although she would have not have liked it if, as expected, the Cowboys prevail. Her loathing of Roger Staubach was palpable. She could barely say the man's last name without a sneer. Sometimes bits of spittle would come out of her mouth as she talked about the man. Hated Tom Landry too.

God bless her.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

In the beginning...

Christmas is over, my woodie's outside, covered with snow, and now it's Boxing Day. Speaking of boxing, did you, by any chance, see Miguel Cotto get clobbered by Manny Pacquiao a while back?

Manoman, violence is everywhere, dear friends. Even during the holidays.

For the record, the most interesting present I received this Christmas is "The Book of Genesis, illustrated by R. Crumb."
Brief personal aside: A person in my position is showered with presents during the holidays. My personal favorite is when groups of strange women stand outside the Peter McManus cafe chanting my name, waiting to pelt me with their underthings as I stagger towards the subway entrance. Like I'm Lenny Kravitz or something. Truth be told, this happens so rarely that I haven't yet lost my zest for the experience.
Anyway, back to the book. The fact of the matter is that I have little patience for graphic novels (which are thicker verions what we used to comic books) and the work of R. Crumb has always left me cold. I deliberately didn't see that movie with Hope whatshername.

But the audacity of the act; the courage of the thing, struck me. Hit me. Hit me like a diamond bullet. Like a diamond bullet through the forehead. And which, inexorably, made me think of Kurtz: God. The genius of that! The genius! The will to do that! Perfect, genuine, complete, crystalline, pure.
To anyone who's ever stuck a stick in a can of paint and cast his seed upon the waters (whatever that last part means), the idea of illustrating Genesis is just that: Perfect, genuine, complete, crystalline, pure.

Check out Cain snuffing Abel:

And there's plenty more where that came from.

One can't help but reflect on the parallels to Art Spiegelman's Maus books. Which, dear reader, were stunners.

And the reflection upon which, inexorably, makes you think of "The Lost, Six of Six Million," a book by Daniel Mendelsohn. The Times, in its majesty, describes the opening of "The Lost" thusly:
Mendelsohn begins his account with a startling childhood experience: at gatherings of his extended family, many of them survivors of the massacred Jewish community of Bolechow, Poland (now Ukraine), “it would occasionally happen that I would walk into a room and certain people would begin to cry.” They would cry because of his startling resemblance to a distant relative among the dead, his great-uncle Shmiel Jäger, a meat shipper in Bolechow who was murdered by the Nazis along with his wife, Ester, and their four daughters.
That family--man, woman, four daughters--being the "six" mentioned in the title. Elsewhere in the review we get:
I can’t say it better than one of Daniel Mendelsohn’s travelling companions does toward the end of this powerful work of investigative empathy: “The Holocaust is so big, the scale of it is so gigantic, so enormous, that it becomes easy to think of it as something mechanical. Anonymous. But everything that happened, happened because someone made a decision. To pull a trigger, to flip a switch, to close a cattle car door, to hide, to betray.”
Which brings us, later in the review, to ...
In the beginning the reader may feel a little at sea in the welter of details and the web of relationships — whose great-aunt was the sister of which brother-in-law? It is a tribute to Mendelsohn’s narrative skills that one soon finds the close focus on family details absorbing, novelistic. Before long one begins to grasp Mendelsohn’s method, which draws on both the classical and the Biblical modes of storytelling. In fact, his interspersed meditations on conflicting models of storytelling are one of the most thought-provoking and original features of the book.
Which, inexorably, makes you think of what you assume are the first words of Genesis.
In the beginning...
Yet in Crumb's version, the first line reads:
When God began to create Heaven and earth, the earth was then without form...
Which is just further proof that the guy's got some cajones.

Asking only workman's wages
I came looking for a job
But I got no offers,
Just a come-on from the whores on Seventh Avenue
I do declare, there were times when I was so lonesome
I took some comfort there
Then I became a painter
And now people are throwing their underwear at me.
That said, New York can be a lonely town when you're the only surfer boy around. And the holidays can be difficult. But there are worse things than counting your blessings.
Footnote #1 (Reclining--Chelsea Hotel)

For you completists, the full Kurtz quote goes like this:

I've seen horrors... horrors that you've seen. But you have no right to call me a murderer. You have a right to kill me. You have a right to do that... but you have no right to judge me. It's impossible for words to describe what is necessary to those who do not know what horror means. Horror... Horror has a face... and you must make a friend of horror. Horror and moral terror are your friends. If they are not, then they are enemies to be feared. They are truly enemies! I remember when I was with Special Forces... seems a thousand centuries ago. We went into a camp to inoculate some children. We left the camp after we had inoculated the children for polio, and this old man came running after us and he was crying. He couldn't see. We went back there, and they had come and hacked off every inoculated arm. There they were in a pile. A pile of little arms. And I remember... I... I... I cried, I wept like some grandmother. I wanted to tear my teeth out; I didn't know what I wanted to do! And I want to remember it. I never want to forget it... I never want to forget. And then I realized... like I was shot... like I was shot with a diamond... a diamond bullet right through my forehead. And I thought, my God... the genius of that! The genius! The will to do that! Perfect, genuine, complete, crystalline, pure. And then I realized they were stronger than we, because they could stand that. These were not monsters, these were men... trained cadres. These men who fought with their hearts, who had families, who had children, who were filled with love... but they had the strength... the strength... to do that. If I had ten divisions of those men, our troubles here would be over very quickly. You have to have men who are moral... and at the same time who are able to utilize their primordial instincts to kill without feeling... without passion... without judgment... without judgment! Because it's judgment that defeats us.


Wow--this is really complicated!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Painting Mack?

Do you know this man?

Of course you do. John Mack. Of Morgan Stanley. Stepping down as CEO at the end of the year. Having a party, if I'm not mistaken, sometime in the next week. Saturday is my guess.

So I call somebody at Morgan Stanley's PR department. Being an old public relations guy myself, I feel like these are my people. I speak to a lovely person and pitch the idea of attending Mack's retirement party with a painting titled "The Annotated Mack" or something like that.

She, as is her function within the organism known as Morgan Stanley, sounds dubious. Polite but dubious. Takes a bunch of information. Says somebody will call me.

Me? I spend so much time standing around watching people write nasty things on my paintings...

...that I thought it might be fun to attend a retirement party where, presumably, everybody is going to write nice things. After all, I think he's staying on as Chairman of the Board (perhaps?), so who's gonna write something nasty.

What ends up happening to the painting is TBD. I don't care so much about that.

To paraphrase Shakespeare, The painting of the thing, not the selling of the thing, is the thing.
You know what the smart money is saying, don't you?
Yeah...that nobody is gonna call.
Naaaah. That'd be too easy.
Okay, what's the smart money saying?
The smart money says that they ARE gonna call you, but not until Friday afternoon.
Wow, that would be annoying.
Yes, it would. Because then you'd be faced with two options...
Those being?
Option one: politely decline, saying you don't have enough time to do the guy justice.
Option two: just slap together some piece of shit at the last minute.
Wow--it's like Sophie's Choice or something.
Look at those eyebrows, though.
Yeah, I see them.
Hell, if you just got them right, the rest of the thing would just fall into place.
You, my friend, are an eternal optimist.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

My life, I suppose, is complete, to a degree

This is the Rothko Room at the Tate Modern. It contains a series of paintings Rothko did late in his career on commission for the Four Seasons restaurant in Manhattan but which were withdrawn by the artist after he actually dragged his ass down to the Four Seasons and realized he was surrounded by a bunch of bubble-headed rich people eating obscenely expensive Dover sole. Meuniere, probably.

Apparently he freaked out, saying something to the effect of "These are not the people for whom I paint." He resigned the commission, gave the Four Seasons their money back, and tucked them away in the back room.

Some years later, a guy from the Tate asked, "If I give you a lovely room, will you give us those paintings?" The rest, as they say, is art history.

All of which brings me to this: It is a source of great annoyance that Geoffrey Raymond, the UCSB sociology professor, is showing up on my Google alert more than me these days. Nonetheless, I was delighted to see today that I apparently now merit an entry in "Arteur."

You can view it here.

The whole point of the story is that at the bottom of my modest entry, the site offers three artist who you, the Arteur reader, might like if you liked my work. Two are not recognizable names to me. One is a Brazilian grafitti artist (I can understand that connection). The other is somebody else-- photographer. The third is Chris Ofili.

Chris Ofili. Wow.

He, of the painting of the Virgin Mary (See? All the great ones paint religious iconography. I'm not some crackpot, no matter how much you, dear reader, would like to shake your head in a tut-tutting manner and whisper to yourself "That guy's such a crackpot.") executed, in part, with elephant dung.

He, whose painterly execution of the Virgin Mary made Mayor Guiliani plotz.
Everybody talks about that whole elephant dung business. How come nobody complains about the asses?
The what?
Those flying asses that you, upon quick inspection, probably thought were butterflies.
They are butterflies.
To a degree they are--much the way we ALL are butterflies--but they are actually little pictures of naked asses cut out of magazines and collaged, if that's even a word, onto the surface of the painting.
OMG, that's sacrilege!
That's what Rudy said. Except he was talking about the elephant dung.
If he knew those were asses, he would have totally shit in his pants.
Yes he would have.
He, who was sitting around one day (rolling, perhaps, some elephant dung around in his hands) when the Tate Modern called and asked if he could fill a room with his paintings.

OMG. Could you just imagine?

What a beautiful sight that is.
Those boys at the Tate know how to light a room.
Yeah. And they're suckers for that whole spartan-bench-in-the-middle thing.
Yeah. Like the Rothko Room.
Kind of like that bench at the Met in front of "Lavender Mist."

Except that might not be the name. It might be "Something, something, Number 1."
No, that's not the one.
I've got it, by Jove!
"Autumn Rhythm (Number 30)"
Now that's a name for a painting.
You're no slouch yourself, my friend.
Thank you.
My favorite title of yours?
"Dancer #3 (Reclining--Chelsea Hotel)"
Yeah. You know you've hit the big time when you have a painting with a name like that.
Yes you do.
Anyway, we all have things to shoot for. Having a show at the Tate would certainly be one of mine.
You know what they say in golf, don't you?
No. I don't play.
Well, they say a lot of things. But one of them is "Never up--never in."
Meaning that if you don't strike the ball hard enough to reach the cup, it will, by definition, never go in.
Meaning aim high my friend. Illegitimatus non carborundum.
Is that another golf thing?

Still in the conceptual stage...

As a warm-up exercise, picture yourself on a train in a station.

Good. Now consider this photograph:

The idea is to have the jawline define a rough diagonal line running from the lower left hand corner of a square canvas to the upper right. As everybody knows, when you bisect a square along the diagonal you create two triangles. The image will, obviously, occupy the top left triangle. Room for annotation will be in lower right triangle.

I'm calling it "Joe Lieberman's Mouth." And the things they will write... Oy gevalt! -- the mind reels.

Still in the conceptual stages, but pretty strong, yes?

Monday, December 21, 2009

Offer of barter...

Just while I'm thinking about it, if anybody has one of these...

I will paint one of these...

And trade you straight up. You may have to gross me out (is that the right phrase? i know it's something like that) on the taxes.

Classic Post--September 14th, 2006

Consider this, dear reader. A classic post from the early days:

Now This, I Want To Tell You...

Now this, I want to tell you, is the real Trenchtown experience!

Actually this has nothing to do with Trenchtown, the Jamaican shantytown that spawned Peter Tosh, Bunny Livingston and Bob Marley--the two men and a superstar that formed the core of the Wailers. I am fond, however, of the line itself as it is the first thing you hear on the famous "Bob Marley and The Wailers Live" album as the MC introduces the band to a screaming throng at the Lyceum in London on the 18th of July, 1975.
Now this, I want to tell you...

is a 1973 Rolex Explorer II--the so called 1655 Orange Hand version that could possibly be the coolest Rolex in the world. I bought it sometime near Christmas, 1986, and wore it literally every day of my life until last week when I put it up for consignment with Aaron Faber, the vintage watch merchant. I did so with two purposes in mind: First, the requisite stripping down of worldly possessions as part of suffering for one's art; and second, the need to find alternative financial fuels for my life now that the paychecks have stopped. On that second note, I was surprised to find that the thing is worth a (relative) potload. On the negative side, I kind of miss the thing. Sometimes I wake up, realize my watch is not on my wrist and think, "Shit, my watch is missing." Viewing all this from afar, I'm sure Bob Marley would say: "Dem belly full, but dem hungry."
Me? I love Bob Marley. In fact, I'm listening to him now. I'm listening to Bend Down Low, which contains as part of the chorus, the repeated line "you keep on knocking but you can't get in..."

Now reflect on this:

This is a Rolex Yachtmaster II. It is, by almost any standard, obscenely expensive. Beemer expensive. Not exactly my taste in Rolexes (Rolex's? Rolices?). Nonetheless, consider it Exhibit A.

Now, there is, of course, this:

Which just sold for more than this:

All of which makes me wish I still had this:

As life proceeds as a painter (as opposed to, say, an investment banker) one is faced with the occasional need to divest oneself of possessions in order to pay the rent. I only miss two of them: my old Rolex and a six-string Rickenbacker that existed in my life for a sadly brief period of time.

You can see it hanging on the wall next to a painting I wish I still had...

If you are going to sell your paintings, you can't complain about people buying them. Even if you love them. It's like Tom Hanks telling Bitty Schram (whatta name!) "There's no crying in baseball."

Fair enough, but if I start talking about that guitar, I think I'm gonna start tearing up.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Dear Prudence

The primary purpose of this blog is, of course, to allow scholarly researchers access to the process by which I create paintings. The secondary purpose is, of course, to screw around for the amusement of myself and my friends.

Addressing the former, here, presented without comment, other than to say there might be one duplicate, is what you might call the Dear Prudence Progression:

Monday, December 14, 2009

Daer Prudence

The technique for centering a word or phrase at the top of a painting is this:

--You write the title out on a piece of paper
--You count the total number of letters and spaces
--Divide by two
--Use this simple mathematical formula to identify the physical (and numerical) middle of the line of copy.
--Consider, as an example, the title of my portrait of Gordon Brown. Dear Prudence contains 13 letters and spaces. In this case, the second R sits in the exact middle.
--Now you apply two strips of painter's tape; the first aligned with the top of the canvas, the second positioned 2.5 inches below the bottom of the first.
--Identify the vertical centerline of the painting. Make a small mark.
--Begin lettering with the middle R and proceed left to right in the normal manner.
--When done, return to the middle R and attempt to print the left side of the block of copy in a right to left manner. Channel whatever inner knowledge of Hebrew you may have. Regardless, the mindset must be one of steely concentration.

And voila:

This is annoying, to say the least. Although it looks like it might be Gaelic, which is kind of fun.

That said, RED, dear reader, unlike many other colors, resists the masking layer of gesso as if its life depends on it. You have to slap on layer upon layer on the damned gesso while the RED fights you every step of the way. Those of a certain mindset might be reminded of the final scene from The Cask of Amontillado, with Fortunado screaming for mercy as Montresor walls him in.

Unbelievably stressful. Although, eventually, the screaming dies down and you end up with this:

I love the two black dots between the bottom of the title and the top of the head.

The choice of title, I should say, was not mine. Rather, my client's. Which is fine with me because every time I mention the idea to the random Brit I might run into, they giggle like school kids. What's up with that?

Anyway, given the way we conduct our affairs here, here are the lyrics:
Dear Prudence, won't you come out to play
Dear Prudence, greet the brand new day
The sun is up, the sky is blue
It's beautiful and so are you
Dear Prudence won't you come out to play

Dear Prudence open up your eyes
Dear Prudence see the sunny skies
The wind is low the birds will sing
That you are part of everything
Dear Prudence won't you open up your eyes?

Look around round round
Look around round round
Oh look around

Dear Prudence let me see you smile
Dear Prudence like a little child
The clouds will be a daisy chain
So let me see you smile again
Dear Prudence won't you let me see you smile?

Dear Prudence, won't you come out to play
Dear Prudence, greet the brand new day
The sun is up, the sky is blue
It's beautiful and so are you
Dear Prudence won't you come out to play
My hope was that The Complete Beatles on Ukulele would have a version, but they haven't gotten to it yet. They do, I should say, have a genuinely odd version of Norwegian Wood that is worth listening to. Go here and it's either at the top or the next one in. I'm So Tired, performed by an artist called Christina (b612) Hansen is also good clean

Sunday, December 13, 2009


First this...

Then this...

Then this...

Then this...

Then this...

And, finally, this...

Shipped, with his buddy Einstein, to a factory in eastern Pennsylvania the Saturday after Thanksgiving.

Were it me, I'd say that Edison turned out better than Einstein, if for no other reason than my personal satisfaction at having drifted into Col. Harlan Sanders territory and then scraped and clawed my way out.

Plus, I love it when massive miscalculations (see the image-right side of his head in the third pic) end up kind of ok.


First this...

Then this...

Then this...

Then this...

Then this...

And then, this:

Shipped, with his buddy Edison, to a factory in eastern Pennsylvania the Saturday after Thanksgiving.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Thomas Hoving, January 15, 1931-yesterday

Do you recognize this:

It's the Euphronios Krater. Acquired, completely illegally, as it turned out, by at-the-time Metropolitan Museum director Thomas Hoving. Who is now dead.

Makes you wonder if Picasso was thinking about it when he painted Guernica...

Almost certainly not, but they both have that sort of rollicking, horizontal, almost caligraphic read. I should also add that I have taken one of the greatest paintings in history (Guernica) and sepia-toned it to enhance my lame thesis. For this, I profoundly apologize.

I remember reading "Making the Mummies Dance" when it came out in the '90s. It was a sort of memoir about the head of the Met wrapped around the story of nabbing this krater. It was good clean fun. Wikipedia, in its imperfect majesty, offers this:
The Euphronios krater (or Sarpedon krater) is an ancient Greek terra cotta krater, a bowl used for mixing wine with water. Created around the year 515 BC, it is the only complete example of the surviving 27 vases painted by the renowned Euphronios and is considered one of the finest Greek vase artifacts in existence. Part of the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art from 1972 to 2008, the vase was repatriated to Italy under an agreement negotiated in February 2006.
And that's all you need to know about that.

The back looks like this:

It has a lovely glow, doesn't it?

Dead at 78--Thomas Hoving.