On July 4th, 2006, I embarked on a quest to become the pre-eminent American portrait painter of the 21st century. This blog chronicles that journey. With apologies to Joan Didion, I call it THE YEAR OF MAGICAL PAINTING.
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
And a birthday sale...
I am offering my most popular images as signed, limited-edition prints. They include, but are not limited to the images you see below. If you buy one now, on this very day, September 30th, my 56th birthday, I'll take 20% off the purchase price.
Blue Paulson (note--the annotations on this painting are not yet complete)
The Reexamined Fuld (note--the annotations on this painting are not yet complete)
The Fallen Prince
The American Investor
The Annotated Fuld
The Screaming Pope
The Annotated Fed
They measure 24" x 32" and look like this, in the flesh (size 12, paint-speckled Topsider added for scale):
If you have a favorite work of mine not shown above, email me and I'll see if it's available as a print. Each numbered print is available for $250 (except for today) and is signed by me.
I take orders via PayPal. Email me and I'll give you the appropriate details.
If the economy is getting you down, you can also order unsigned versions of the same prints for $100.
I may buy an Audi R8 with a V10 engine. Costs about 150K (4 paintings). Have you seen the commercial? Shot in Maranello, Italy? Very amusing, particularly when the Italian father grabs his 7 year old daughter and covers her eyes with his hands so she can't see what he deems to be an obscenity--a bright red Audi driving through the very epicenter of Ferrari country.
Or I may get a haircut. Nine dollars from the Russian women at 7th and 21st.
Lovely article about Zero Hedge in New York Magazine
Lovely article about Tyler Durden and Zero Hedge (a controversial finance blog) in NYMag. Go here. Full of this and that. Truth and fiction. Like life itself.
The world is an odd place. I only have two drinking buddies (and that phrase stretches the truth of the relationships a bit) from Wall Street proper. One is from Zero Hedge; the other from Goldman Sachs. Read the article and imagine how odd that is.
I was talking to a friend of mine named Tony yesterday at the bar at the Peter McManus Cafe. The Giants/Jets had whipped their respective opponents and we got around to less important matters: first this, then that, and finally, sonically, the abyss. He's a sound engineer and I told him about appearing on WNYC a week ago and getting to put those cool headphones on.
This is video version of the radio appearance:
A couple of items:
First, I'm not sure the full sideways shot is my best angle. Man, I'm gonna have to step away from the Nacho Cheese Doritos for a while.
Second, there's nothing like those studio-quality, full-coverage headphones. These days everybody uses ear buds. Which are fine, but I can't remember when the last time I had a set of big, fat headphones on. Actually, I can. It was last week at WNYC. But before that?
Third, did I tell you they made me get up at 4:45 am? Even now, two weeks later, I'm still doing a cost/benefit analysis on that and coming up quite a bit short.
Anyway, back to the 'phones. My point to Tony was that the silence you hear (if that's the right word) when you put on those headphones is stunning. It's like no other moment in your life, particularly if you live in Brooklyn. Absolute quiet. Infinite depth. The deepest abyss.
He knew what I was talking about.
And now, today, I find myself in another sort of sonic abyss. I'm sitting alone in my apartment. My daughter is gone. My house guests are gone. Alice the cat is gone (I ate her with hoisin sauce). And the silence is deafening. I am doing that same kind of plummeting you do when you look at a Jackson Pollock too long, and I can't even hear the rush of the wind because I have my studio-grade headphones on. The silence, I am here to tell you, is deafening.
Everybody, by the way, thinks that when you fall into the abyss it's empty. Cold. Dark. Dead.
Naaah. Couldn't be nicer.
Me? I've taken the fall. Leap--make that taken the leap. Gathered both feet beneath me, made sure I could feel the mud scrunched up between my toes for maximum traction, and leaped. Lept. Leopt. I'm a leopard. And the water's not cold; it's warm. And the river's not dark; you'd be surprised how much you can see. And dead? Naaah. Teeming with life. Somewhere, they appear to be playing Wagner. Which is odd.
You want to soar beneath the surface, open your mouth, ingest it. Ingest all of it. Of course, if you did that you'd drown. Which is not the object of the exercise.
Me? I'm just swimming upriver.
Huck fucking Finn in reverse. Some days the current is so strong you're swimming at what seems to be a great rate when, in fact, the river bank is slowly going by... the wrong way. These days, though, I'm pleased to announce, headway is being made. I see less of the sun. I'm seeing lots of green. I'm at one with the river. Which is good, 'cause if you're not, there's more damned things swimming around next to you that would like to bite or otherwise fuck with you than you can shake a stick at.
The snakes make the best eating. Once you get good at it; once you've mastered your gag reflex, you just grab 'em, bite their heads off, and then slide 'em down your throat. Don't even have to stop swimming. Shit 'em out about a day later, bones and all.
Apparently, Jefferson didn't say the exact words noted earlier ... although it would have been cool if he did.
He did, however, say this:
I sincerely believe… that banking establishments are more dangerous than standing armies, and that the principle of spending money to be paid by posterity under the name of funding is but swindling futurity on a large scale.
He said it to a guy named John Taylor. As you may or may not know, John Taylor plays bass for Duran Duran. Which clearly proves, if nothing else, that life is not, as sometimes thought, a series of circles, but, rather, a long flat coil. Like a Slinky.
That's poetic. What is? Your closing sentences. Really? Of course. A lot of people think poetry is about content, word choice, musicality, rhythm and a bunch of other crap. But really it's just about where you push the return button. That's a very cynical position. You think? Check this out:
"Which clearly proves if nothing else that life is not as sometimes thought a series of circles but, rather, a long flat coil. Like a Slinky."
Wow. Somebody should make sure Bob Dylan gets this memo. I cc'd him. Great. But you can argue that the use of the return key is tantamount to establishing a certain rhythm. Yes you could. Like commas, I suppose. Out of kindness, I suppose. Nicely said, Pancho. Very gracious. But certainly everything else you said is true. Thank you. You're welcome, Lefty.
I went to the University of Virginia, a place where Thomas Jefferson is rammed down your throat like corn down a French goose. So you sort of think you have a bead on the man's general thinking. Then I came across this:
I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies. Already they have raised up a moneyed aristocracy that has set the Government at defiance. The issuing power should be taken from the banks and restored to the people to whom it properly belongs.
As if building UVa and Monticello weren't enough (that whole presidency business aside), it turns out the guy was a visionary. Who knew?
Actually the second half of the quote is cool too, but to get it you have to go to a blog called Jack's Financial News & Opinion. He used images of two of my paintings in a post titled "The American Slavery Act of 1913" and juxtaposed them to the Jefferson quote. As I write, the American Slavery... post is the top one. But things have a way of changing. Try scrolling down.
I like Jack for several reasons:
1. He asked permission to use the images. 2. He bought a poster. 3. He seems to like rattling the cage a bit, and that is certainly a good thing (up, one has to add, without specific reference to Jack but, rather, in a larger sense, to a point).
And let me close with a public note to John Casteen, outgoing president of the University of Virginia, a man who sits in a chair upon which, presumably, Thomas Jefferson sat:
At what point do we stop building the University of Virginia? In the face of tuition costs outstripping virtually every general benchmark of financial growth over the last decade, do you really need another freaking building? Couldn't this money be better used terminating Al Groh's contract and hiring somebody who can get the job done?
If somebody could go see "Capitalism, A Love Story" and see if I'm in it, then report back, that would be lovely. Me? I have antipathy for the man (although we espouse the same general political causes) and am loathe to spend my 12 bucks just to find out.
Just for the record, I wasn't interviewed by Moore. I was, however, interviewed by one of his producers, just standing there in front of the NYSE, painting in hand, so to speak. So it could go either way.
Of course, if I am in it, I'll drop the twelve. My preference would be to spend it on something else.
That noise you hear are bells ringing across Brooklyn, the borough of churches, sounding the death-knell of what will one day be called the New England Patriots Era. It is over. They are done. They may make the playoffs...but they are done.
It reminds me of how Dorothy poured water on the wicked witch and even the winged monkeys celebrated.
You must let neither the nitwits get you down nor the jackals piss you off. But this comment on a recent Zero Hedge posting about me did, in fact, annoy me:
I would love to short this guy
what a talentless goofball
To commentor #27: Hey, fuck you. Short me if you like--I'll eat you for breakfast. You're the kind of guy who'd still be wearing your pens in a pocket protector if a stripper hadn't told you it wasn't cool.
This is Blue Paulson and The Reexamined Fuld, each after a warm-up day on Wall Street last week and Monday and Tuesday in front of the OLB this week.
This a gag photo--me, standing behind the two paintings, shooting our reflection in the window of a store that wasn't the Gap but was something like that. You can see the sun shining on my hair just below the white lettering on the mannequin's t-shirt.
Oddest comment of the day?
Somebody from Lehman wrote "Good Call" above Paulson's head.
You can see it next to the top-most sun-flare (the technical term for when paint seems to erupt from the area of the intended image into the white space).
What are the chances of a Lehman guy (word used here without gender distinction) telling Paulson he'd made the right call? I mean really.
This is what Paulson and Fuld look like after one day of annotation in front of the Old Lehman Building...
I wish I had more stuff on Paulson, but am pleased, given the circumstances, at the number of Lehman employee annotations on Fuld.
My two favorite green ones?
--You've been villainized unfairly. You, more than anyone, wanted Lehman to survive. --Coffee guy say go to hell.
[Editorial note: As you can perhaps surmise, my criteria for the green pen is relatively liberal. "Coffee guy" is just that--the guy who ran the coffee cart in front of Lehman for, by his count, three years. He told me he got to know a ton of Lehman people and was depressed for weeks after 9/15.]
Annotations from today's exhibition of "Blue Paulson" behind Goldman Sachs, presented (as they say on Dealbreaker) without comment:
Actually I'm functionally incapable of not commenting ... at least about this last one...
A guy, maybe 45, dressed like an investment banker (if those people even still exist), grabs a pen, writes what you see above, looks at me with has to be the closest thing Wall Street has to a thousand yard stare, shrugs his shoulders and walks away.
And then, last but not least, is my first Lehman annotation ...
The paintings. Sometimes they just mock you. They stare at you from the wall, hurling insults at you. Like that old Woody Allen bit where he thought his kitchen appliances would whisper anti-Semitic remarks about him whenever he would leave the room.
Me? I'm Irish Catholic, so the content would change slightly. Although the concept would remain the same.
I'm not familiar with the Woody Allen bit. Really? No. Well listen, I've gotta go to the bathroom. When I come back I'll see if I can find it on u-tube. You do that, you Pope-loving, fish-eating, potato-digging, pretend-painting mick basterd. What? What? What did you say as I walked away from the computer? Nothing. Why? I could have sworn you said something. Naaaaah. Alright, I'll be right back. Take your time, Paddy O'Furniture. I'll be watching Riverdance with the sound down. What? What? What? What? Nothing. Take your pee. May the toilet rise up to greet you. I heard that one. Of course you did. 'Cause now I'm just messing with you. Oh. But I swear I didn't say anything earlier. Okay. Okay.
Anyway, this one was giving me some trouble. In the forehead. So I just whited the goddam thing out today on my way out the door and will, tomorrow, revisit with some vigor. Plus some red, yellow and purple.
Although, since painting is as much about relative values as it is anything else, you could solve the problem without all that fuss by leaving the forehead the way it is right now--all gesso'd out--and balance it out by grinding some white into the bridge of the nose and maybe across the image-right side of his upper lip and you could get away with it.
Although: a) no way am I touching the upper lip--I love that aquamarine, and b) as somebody wrote on Big Lloyd 3, "Just because you can do something doesn't mean you should do it."
No, gentle reader. I'm gonna get up tomorrow, get out of bed, drag a comb across my head, walk the eleven blocks to my studio and apply the previously noted reds, yellows and purples to the top of Richard Fuld's face. And that will be that.
Although I must say, the white on the top does wonders for the depths of his eyes. Hmmm ...
... is all I'm saying.
I do love that little black curlicue coming out of the side of his hair. Like a little horn.
Maybe a little squirting amongst the blacks on the right side of the image to try and create more depth, but basically this is as good as this one is going to get. Certainly the upper lip has resolved itself.
A friend whose professional credentials, I can assure you, make him the right person to comment, emailed me saying:
Your Hank picture is very good, but the projectile red tear is a bit startling!
And isn't that strange? You, the painter (me, I suppose), get caught up in the minutia of the thing and you can't step far enough back to see that big red goober as a tear. Up until that moment I just saw it as a bunch of red paint that escaped my bowl while I was leaning over the painting, concentrating on the right side of the image.
Now I'm delighted with the whole thing.
Did you ever go see that Matisse/Picasso show that MOMA held in Queens during their last renovation? The one that showed 25 or so--28 maybe--thematically- or stylistically-linked pairings of paintings. There was one Picasso there--lovely pinks and pastel blues, one of his wives or girlfriends curled up in a chair, it was during that phase when the limbs seemed like extended tear drops.
This might be it ...
... although the point of the story is that there is a sizable goober of paint on one of her forearms. Not as big as the one on Blue Paulson, but big enough so that, in person, you can certainly see it and the urge (which, I should warn you, is completely against the rules) to scrape it off with your fingernail is palpable. I don't see it on this image, but the picture is a tiny one and it might just not have come through.
Anyway, I love the notion of just embracing the shit as it happens.
As opposed to the Half Nelson, this is the Full Paulson:
Look at that big goober of red on the left side of the image. I think my opening annotation is going to read "Shit Happens" with an arrow pointing to the goober.
Pretty cool painting, if I do say so myself. In real life it doesn't look like he has such a hairlip, but the photography, as has been noted here before, does strange things. This is the result of Day 1, done for the benefit of BBC America. Plus my own benefit, I suppose. Plus the benefit of the world, if one believes that these paintings are important--all caps.
In any case, I would have worked more on it today but I need to leave something for tomorrow when they come back for a second session. I believe two days will be enough for this painting. Truth be told, one day (had I lettered in the title and dribbled on his shoulders) could have been enough.
Fuld and Paulson, cropped for your viewing pleasure...
Close lookers will notice the presence of annotations on Fuld; absence of same on Paulson. The idea is to get a day of passerby annotations on each painting before taking them uptown to Lehman on Monday. In pursuit of this objective I'll be outside later this week with Paulson.
I'm not going to call my painting of Hank Paulson "Flaming Paulson". I'm going to stick with whatever we had already decided on. "The Reexamined Paulson" or "The Revisited Paulson". Something like that. To be decided Wednesday morning before The Beeb returns for their follow-up shoot.
In a perfect world I'd show you an image of what I can only call a stunning first day of work on the Paulson painting, but logistics have conspired to grind me down. Tomorrow is another day.
Who are those idiots who walk around with their pants halfway down around their asses? Rappers? B-boys--whatever that means? Something else?
Anyway, push has come to shove, dear reader, and the next painting I sell I'm going to throw away every pair of boxers I own (except maybe my black Ralph Laurens) and go back to briefs. Because a man gets tired of walking around the town wishing he could just reach down and pull the back of his underwear back up.
It's like being a secret B-boy. Or something. Perhaps it's like that business about women who wear exotic lingerie in mundane places--like the office--and are amused at the notion that the world has no idea what's going on inside. Except what's going on inside with me is the urge to pull my drawers back up.
Does this ever happen to you?
Anyway, I must say that part and parcel of being an artist is the idea of walking around like a normal person, amused at the notion that the world has no idea what's going on inside. I mean, isn't that why we are paid as much as we are? For the carrying of the burden?
(For the record, life is full of burdens and we should just man-up and carry our share. Me? I find always being the smartest person in the room especially tiresome.)
All that said, I'm considering re-naming my Paulson painting to "The Flaming Paulson", but time will tell on this one.
I'd like to go to bed (to be fresh for the Brits) but J.P. (I call Juan Pablo "J.P." because most NASCAR fans are desperately uncomfortable with the idea of somebody who speaks Spanish as his first language actually winning a race) is in second place. And I couldn't forgive myself if I missed his first win on an oval.
I'm sitting here watching "Flags of our Fathers," the Iwo Jima movie shot by Clint Eastwood thinking about how, push comes to shove, every movie we will ever see that involves a bunch of GIs storming a beach will be measured against the opening of "Saving Private Ryan."
Me? I'm just wasting time before the Pep Boys 500 starts. I root for Juan Pablo Montoya, sitting 22nd after qualifying but a comfortable 9th in the Sprint Cup Chase standings with just a couple of races to go. If you understand NASCAR you will understand what I just said. If you don't, you won't.
Additionally, because time (unlike life--which, as near as I can tell, is a series of circles...or something resembling a Slinky) is linear, I'm also waiting for the Beeb. That is to say, BBC America. Which, being British, is showing its disdain for the uniquely American holiday known in these parts as Labor Day by sending a camera crew to the Brooklyn Artists Gym to shoot me painting "The Revisited Paulson"--a companion piece to "The Reexamined Fuld."
Can't really blame them--I told them I'd be working on it anyway and that they might as well come along.
This, barring unforseen developments, is the image I'll be painting:
No wait, that's not it. That's the one I'm going to title "Dreams of the Efficient Market Hypothesis." This is Paulson...
I love how his head seems to be steaming. I have that effect on people.
Are you familar with the so-called Stockholm Syndrome? Wikipedia (which, I must tell you, is only safe in the hands of professional writers. Do not attempt this at home) offers:
Stockholm syndrome is a psychological response sometimes seen in abducted hostages, in which the hostage shows signs of loyalty to the hostage-taker, regardless of the danger or risk in which they have been placed.
So I was held hostage by the PBS people (The Newshour with Jim Lehrer, if we're capitalizing the "The") yesterday and eventually, against my better judgment, agreed to drag Big Dick Fuld out onto the streets for commentary. What makes it unusual is that the painting isn't even really done. The forehead, in particular, remains a bit of a disaster. I hadn't even signed the thing.
Nonetheless, one has to support public broadcasting so I did my part. In a perfect world I'd pop up an image of the painting as it stands now. But this, dear reader, is not a perfect world. I'll do it later today. I will tell you in advance that I was pleased with the general level of commentary received in front of the Stock Exchange. It (using the collective singular) will make a lovely bed upon which the green Lehman comments can rest.
The modified plan, as it now unfolds subsequent to the PBS thing, is to shelve the painting until the 14th and 15th of September, where I'll attempt to display it in front of the old Lehman building--now Barklay's. Ex- and current employees get green.