Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Just You Wait...

Let's assume the New York Times has written between twenty-five and fifty articles about the recent MF Global uproar. Do you know what each (or, perhaps more accurately, every one I've read yet) has in common, besides the general subject matter and the mention of Jon Corzine?
Neither MF Global nor Mr. Corzine has been accused of any wrongdoing.
It is this sentence, repeated article after article, almost verbatim. It would make a fun title for a painting, wouldn't it? Now if it cropped up once in a while, as a point of anecdotal clarification, I'd understand. But it appears to be in every one. Do the lawyers at the most powerful newspaper in the world believe it is necessary to include this disclaimer? Have we come to this?

I'm angry with The Times.

And as regards the company, the man and the accusations, well just you wait.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Corzine: Naked, Short

Powerful, if I do say so myself. You can see all of my black and white paintings at

The Iceman Cometh ... Again!

Oh my God! Kimi Raikkonen is back in Formula 1. Witness this:

First of all, this is as excited as the Flying Finn ever gets. It's part of his obscure charm. Second, this boy can drive a car like ringing a bell. He is, after all, a World Champion. Third, I could never figure out what he thought he was doing driving pick-up trucks for NASCAR.

Here's a fifteen minute highlight reel, in Italian:

(Remain calm--you don't have to watch the whole thing)

The downside? Lotus is in the middle--it could be competitive next year, or it could slide backwards. Such sweet agony ... I think I'm going to go have a Caesar salad with sliced steak on top at Daisy Bakers; perhaps sit on the couch and read Moby Dick, just so I can calm down.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Molly Crabapple

Check out the web site of an artist named Molly Crabapple.

Wow. I like some of it quite a bit.

I came across Ms. Crabapple when a member of the Commentariat attached this observation to the post just below this one, plus one more. Meaning it's not the one just below, it's the next one:
"This Molly Crabapple, what's the deal with her?"

"She's this hot young NYC chick who draws, damn well in fact. The prices for her originals are pretty reasonable too."

"So we have a choice between Raymond, the Madoff-lookalike who charges $7,500 an hour, and this hot chick?"
I wonder how much her stuff goes for? I'd buy this:

Which is really wonderful. And this:

The answer to the guy's rhetorical question is this: If you, dear reader, have enough discretionary scratch to buy a painting from me for $103,000...

... you surely have enough money to also buy one of hers.
You should tell them you don't get any kind of a cut.
Good idea. I don't get any kind of a cut.
That it's the purest sort of a thing...
What is?
Telling people to buy other artists' work.
Yes it is.
Me? If I had 100K sitting around, I think I'd buy a Porsche Panamera. Bright red, but with four doors because I'm a sensible person. Screw art.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Oh Shit! Teddy Forstmann is dead

A little late--it happened on Sunday, I think--but to quote Willie Lohman's wife, attention must be paid.

Gasperino offers this in The New York Post.

One more item regarding PaintingTheStreetWeekly

Look what one lovely soul recently wrote in the comment section:
You sir, are brilliant.

As is your Art.

Especially Dismembering Volcker, Morgan: Well Hedged 10-5-11, It's Even Worse in Europe and The Myth of the Rational Market.

I'd like to get that guy's phone number and sell him a painting. In any case, the idea of doing a black and white series significantly predates the comment, but it's nice to feel there is support for one's endeavors.

That said, and in the interest of running a fair and balanced blog (although by rule I don't have to), this bagatelle was submitted via ZeroHedge re. my Corzine painting:

Looking at this guys "art" puts Wall Street wealth in perspective, doesn't it? This looks nothing like Corzine - it looks more like the old guy who hosts, Behind The Actor's Studio.

Only Wall Street could invent value from nothing; creating value from this painting is like inventing derivatives. This will sell for $20.00 at some Wall Streeter's bankrupty liquidation.

I can't tell if this is a compliment or not. I'm troubled by the quotation marks around "art", but the second paragraph fills me with hope. To paraphrase Little Big Man, my heart soars like an eagle.

It should be noted that the cost of the raw materials for this painting is about $85, so in that sense I am creating value from nothing. This, of course, doesn't take into account the cost of my time, which I bill at $7,500 an hour.
Can I broach an opinion?
Of course you can. I welcome input from everybody.
I don't think the question of whether it looks like Jon Corzine or not has anything to do with your "art".
Nicely said. It's a Duchampian construct: the notion that if I say it's a painting of Jon Corzine, then it is a painting of Jon Corzine. And besides, the image is the vehicle for the conversation.
Much like the medium is the message?
Yes ... maybe.
Perhaps more like artichokes are vehicles for mayonnaise?
Yes, exactly. You obviously understand my work perfectly.
Does it bug you that I put quotes around art?
A little.
We at the Greek Chorus love your work. From now on we're gonna call it Art with a capital A.
And for this, I shall give thanks on Thursday.
And well you should.

Painting the Street Weekly

I am embarking on a long-term project called Painting the Street Weekly. You can visit the preliminary (and soon to be ongoing) fruits of my thinking at The idea is to paint a black and white abstract painting (envision Dismantling Volcker as an example) a week, titled with a timely message. While each one, in and of itself, may be but a trifle, together they will amount to a compelling historical record of the coming year on Wall Street. Which is, after all, what I suppose I do.

An example of a work in progress is this:

No ... wait. That's my daughter's dog, Chloe. This is the work in progress:

My immediate response to the painting was to call it "Penile Implant", given what appears to be a massive johnson in the lower left quadrant. But I'm not doing a genitalia series, so I revised my thinking. Going forward, I'm calling it some version of "JefCo's Big Letter." Which you may or may not get.

An alternative might be "Corzine: Well-Hung".

Worth noting, these paintings, which measure 3' by 4', have been individually priced at $9,999 in an effort to make people not think they are spending 10K. I'm selling discounted futures, but I haven't figured out the formula yet.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Sobbing while writing

Well, not exactly. But I just came back down to the studio (I was upstairs, watching TV, waiting for some gesso to dry) and I'm a bit verklempt.

Ordinarily I loathe the Diane Sawyer/Katie Couric/Oprah Winfrey style of tear-jerker special report. Loathe might be too mild a term. To me they're like emotional pornography with extremely high production values. If real pornography was this well lit, everybody would stop watching regular television entirely. Certainly, at least, what they are currently calling The News.

Oprah in particular gives me a cramp because she does the same thing as the other two, but with such a [reader participation exercise--fill in the words for what I'm trying to describe here because they're escaping me]. Holier than thou is a phrase that's jumping to mind, but it's like holier-than-thou enhanced with significant amounts of attitude. Like it was squared, mathematically speaking. Hanging out with Oprah must be a little what hanging out with Joan of Arc must have been like.

I found Couric most offensive during her Today Show years when she would sit on the sofa with some poor couple (maybe the parents of a kid who was killed at Virginia Tech--something like that) and press the issue with questions designed primarily to elicit an emotional breakdown by the guests. I can imagine the champagne corks popping in the control room--"Bingo," they all start shouting--when the some unfortunate soul starts bawling. Now, I suppose, this is Anne Curry's job, with the occasional fill-in by Matt.

Sawyer is the least annoying of the bunch, but that's not saying much. It's a low bar, my friends.

Anyway, suffice it to say I detest this particular television genre. In a moment of weakness, however, I did tape Sawyer's hour-long special on Congresswoman Gabby Giffords last night and just finished watching it. And now, a good half hour after its conclusion, my knees are still weak and stuff that's supposed to stay in my nostrils is dripping off the tip of my nose.

I wish her all the best. Giffords, not Sawyer.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Dealbreaker Weighs In...

43 brave souls offered commentary via Dealbreaker's piece on Corzine Agonistes. My favorite read:


And then offered a link to this:

I was also fond of this exchange:


I believe there is a reason Artists are consistently broke and starving, exhibit 1 is above.

Followed immediately by:

I believe Raymond does quite well for himself and probably enjoys painting more than most of us enjoy sitting at a desk 12 hours a day slowly going blind from staring at Bloomberg and Excel.

I'm choosing a blue font (whether you can read it or not) because I am, as we speak, transcribing the comments from DB's website to the surface of the painting with a blue Sharpie. And I'm nothing if not a structuralist.

It should be further noted, as I pat myself on the back, that Dealbreaker readers also rate individual comments. The "consistently broke and starving" guy garnered a negative nine while the "does quite well" guy netted a positive 37.

They love me. They really love me.

On a closing note, I miss Andy Rooney. Not because he was a particularly nice person, but some of this stuff was quite good. I agree with most of what he said earlier, while choosing to think of myself as a solution to the problem, not the problem.

I suspect he would have hated my Corzine painting.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

The Talking Heads

To paraphrase David Byrne: "This isn't the Mudd Club, nor is it CBGB's. And even if it were, we don't have time for that now."

No, my friends, this is not CBGB's. It's CNBC... The Crystal Cathedral of Capitalism. The steed upon which the Rational Market (a fictional character) rides into battle, much the way the King of the Nazgul (also a fictional character) once rode forth from the gates of Mordor.

I had a lovely time. They picked me up from my hotel in Manhattan in a Cadillac, which I thought was an upgrade from the usual Lincoln Towncar, and carried me out to the studio in Englewood Cliffs, maybe. Everybody was awfully pleasant. Did my thing. Left.

Later that night, I got an email from somebody representing Russell Simmons, the rap empresario.


Here's the piece:

God almighty, I have got to lay off the Nacho Cheese Doritos and onion dip. Look at my stomach!

I don't know if I mentioned it earlier, but Corzine was painted over a whited-out Ken Lewis. Check this video out--it's a classic:

Everybody at CNBC was lovely. I saw Jim Cramer, but he didn't see me. When he first hove into view I had a moment of panic. "What if he comes over and tries to kick my ass?" I wondered. Then, stomach or no, I decided I could take him, so the discomfort passed.

On the way from CNBC back to Penn Station I realized that I was hurtling down the Palisades Parkway in a black Chevrolet Suburban with a picture of Jon Corzine in the back. It started to feel very meta, whatever that means. But when I buckled my seatbelt the discomfort passed.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Oh Shit! Joe Frazier is dead

Lefty doesn't sing the blues like he used to.

Angry at Ali til the very last day, I'll bet. Nonetheless, take care, old friend. May flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.

For my 22nd birthday I spent the bucks and sat in the stands at University Hall in Charlottesville and watched a black and white live broadcast of the Thrilla in Manilla. Thank God I'd dropped out at the beginning of my third year of school to drive a cab. Otherwise I would have graduated by then and would likely have missed it. Ali said later he thought he was going to die. Actually die. I guess Joe beat him to the punch. Unforgetable.

Townes Van Zandt said it best:
Living on the road my friend
Was gonna keep you free and clean
Now you wear your skin like iron
Your breath's as hard as kerosene
You weren't your mama's only boy
But her favorite one it seems
She began to cry when you said goodbye
And sank into your dreams

Pancho was a bandit boys
His horse was fast as polished steel
Wore his gun outside his pants
For all the honest world to feel
Pancho met his match you know
On the deserts down in Mexico
Nobody heard his dying words
That's the way it goes

All the federales say
They could have had him any day
They only let him hang around
Out of kindness I suppose

Lefty he can't sing the blues
All night long like he used to
The dust that Pancho bit down south
Ended up in Lefty's mouth
The day they laid poor Pancho low
Lefty split for Ohio
Where he got the bread to go
There ain't nobody knows

All the federales say
They could have had him any day
They only let him slip away
Out of kindness I suppose

The poets tell how Pancho fell
Lefty's livin' in a cheap hotel
The desert's quiet and Cleveland's cold
So the story ends we're told
Pancho needs your prayers it's true,
But save a few for Lefty too
He just did what he had to do
Now he's growing old

A few gray federales say
They could have had him any day
They only let him go so wrong
Out of kindness I suppose
To which I would add, adios Campagnolo.
Campagnolo is a company that manufactures high-end bicycle parts.
Whatever. Leave me alone to my grief.

Number Eight

The eighth reason this painting costs $85,000 (annotation phase only--I would urge you to buy it now) is that I love the Francis Bacony twist of the nose.

And the dislocation of the flume so that it appears to be coming out of his nostril. Also smashing.

And this, my friends, is that

Corzine Agonistes ...

There has been some question as to how I justify charging $85,000 (annotation phase only--I would urge you to buy it now) for a painting that took less time to paint than it took to letter the title across the top. Which is part of the painting, but still...

Well, for one thing, no less a publication than the Chicago Tribune has trumpeted its arrival. See here.
Well, perhaps French-horned. But is that even a verb?

Not a very elegant one.
For another, I've been thinking about it for quite a while, and thinking counts towards the total energy expenditure. Third, I actually really like the way it turned out. Fourth, there is absolutely no correlation, historically speaking, between how long a painting takes to paint (in this case, less than twenty paint-minutes) and its worth. Fifth, if you look back on my last several paintings, you can see that I'm trying to take a more minimalist approach to the paintings themselves (suggesting that scraping a thin layer of paint over a highly textured background is just as valid a set of painterly decisions as spending hours and hours of dripping paint from a stick). Sixth, you (the buyer) also gets an annotated painting of Ken Lewis, now obscured by a thick coat of gesso, courtesy of Angela, my studio assistant.
Is that it?
No. Item number seven is this: There's no denying the alchemic experience of painting. You address the canvas with any number of complicated intentions; you then begin to paint and everything changes.
Kind of like fighting Mike Tyson.
How so?
Tyson used to say "Everybody's got a plan for how they're gonna beat me until I punch them in the face."
Anyway, once you start painting, the most important thing to know is when to stop. Witness "St. Joan Receiving the Spirit of The Lord"...

Which was supposed to end up looking like "The Agony of St. Agnes" but I decided to stop early.

And which might be rightly titled "Agnes Agonistes."
Which brings us full circle, doesn't it?
Yes it does.
[Pinteresque pause]
Can I say one more thing?
Of course you can. It's your blog.

Well, just that the day I finished painting Agnes' face was the day I said to myself, "Dog, you really can paint."
And the rest was just gravy?
Yes it was.

Monday, November 07, 2011

Corzine Agonistes, Volume 2

The world buzzes in anticipation...

Mogulite weighs in with:
Jon Corzine’s career is about to be memorialized — in the worst way possible.

Geoffrey Raymond, an artist famous for painting portraits of disgraced Wall Street execs (which have fetched thousands of dollars), has set his sights on Corzine, according to Reuters. And it’s not good company for him to be in: Raymond’s past subjects include Lehman’s Dick Fuld and Bear Stearns’ Jimmy Cayne.

In a weird way, Raymond’s decision to paint Corzine feels like a sort of induction into the Wall Street bad boys club. Sure, the court of public opinion — or, you know, an actual court — might be a more official indoctrination into this unrarified air. But Raymond’s paintings have a rather visceral public-gets-back-at-exec ritual that any Wall Street guru would want to avoid.

Reuters explains that, following completion, Raymond hikes down to “the scene of the crime” with his paintings (“the Bear Stearns building with his Jimmy Cayne portrait or the Lehman Brothers headquarters with his Richard Fuld painting”) and allows anyone and everyone to write messages on them. There are, unfortunately for the subject of the portraiture, some predictable results.

So where will Raymond take his Corzine art? “Likely… to a local bar in Lower Manhattan.” Oh, how the mighty have fallen.

I'm weighing in with this, more or less:

And, since I doubt any of you read the comments, a reader weighs in with this:
"So, what does this Raymond guy actually do?"

"Well, he often takes other people's photographs then does works based on them."

"Ah, right, just like that guy who got sued for his Obama "hope" image that was based on someone else's photo? I heard Koons does similar things to Raymond, using other people's photos as the basis for works."

"Yeah. Funny you should say that, since Koons was successfully sued in the early '90s for using someone's photo as the basis for his String of Puppies work."

"Fascinating stuff. Guess that Raymond guy better watch out.
Which is pretty interesting, not only for the legal argument (about which I've expended a fair amount of thought) but for the Commenter's doff of the hat to TYOMP's internal dialogue/Greek Chorus sections.

Corzine Agonistes

Back from vacation. Imagine if the colors were correct.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Hirst vs. Koons--a correction

Hey, I'm on vacation. And I'm losing sleep as a function of my big idea. All that said, it should be noted that Jeff Koons makes the puppy sculptures, not Damien Hirst. And sometimes I just wander about and lose my bearings--I once did a long post about a Dodge Dakota and realized at the end that I was referring to the Dodge Durango. Which rendered the post senseless.

In any case, please note the error in the previous post and accept my apologies. In a different set of circumstances, I'd just have gone back and changed it. But since I've received a comment (just published), I feel like the Big Idea post is now set in stone. Thus this correction.

The comment, FYI, read: "If Hirst is a charlatan, does that make you a crank?"

The answer, dear Commenter, is: "No, it does not make me a crank." Were I not on vacation, I would also follow up with some rambling on about the relationship between Hirst's dot paintings and Mondrian's Broadway Boogie-Woogie.

In a perfect world, I'd love to correspond with the people who post comments. I wonder if some of them--those, for instance, who craft their comments like questions--are, in fact, seeking a dialogue. The annoying thing about Blogger (Google's blogging program I use) is that, for the life of me, I can't see a mechanism for responding.

If anybody ever wants a back-and-forth, use the "contact me" button in the right column.

And I suppose charlatan is a strong word. Everybody thought Andy Warhol was a charlatan and they turned out to be wrong.

Jeff Koons, however (if we're keeping record), is a charlatan. It might, in fact, have been him I was thinking about when I said it. But in my humble opinion, Hirst (although wildly commercially successful, and I take my hat off to him for that), once he stopped stuffing fish into tanks full of formaldehyde, has generated nothing but dreck.

I'm on vacation

I'm on vacation in Brooklyn. Not a painting in sight--my only responsibility is to feed the cat and walk the dog. And while the dog is a handful, it's not as stressful as, say, crawling belly-down through a wet Cambodian jungle humming the bass-line of White Rabbit over and over again, like some kind of mantra, eighteen hours into your first Black Beauty; the other one wrapped in a plastic baggie, which is in turn wrapped in a small plastic container, which is in turn tied around your neck with a leather thong that is otherwise decorated with six or seven dessicated human ears (which look a lot like dried apricots, for you completists), shirtless, slathered with a combination of pig lard and camo paint, a knife in your teeth and a beat-up AK-47 slung across your back. Don't even ask about the AK.

So, given the alternative, I'm pretty relaxed. And although there's not a painting in sight, that doesn't mean I didn't come up with the next big idea.

More specifically, I sat bolt upright in bed a couple of nights ago, awakened from what I thought was sleep, realizing that if I didn't grab my phone and email this idea to myself I would forget it the next morning.

My email read verbatim:
To: Geoff
From: Geoff

Time: 3:28 am

Subject: Stuffed head attached to chairs

Text: !
Lord have mercy! Can you imagine?

If you're not fully grasping it, consider this: a stuffed deer head is purchased from some flea-market. These things are typically attached to some kind of wooden frame (for lack of a better word), or plaque. On the other side of the frame a long thin sort of a sculpture will be constructed from the carcasses of old wooden kitchen chairs (also found at flea-markets), held together with long screws and perhaps epoxy-infused rattan cord. Total length, perhaps ten or twelve feet. The chairs will be painted gloss black. It will be suspended from the ceiling so that it rides perpendicular to the floor at an altitude of perhaps three feet.

Is it clearer now? Suffice to say, I barely slept the rest of the night. At 3:49 I followed the first email with a second, the text of which read:
The impossibility of Lehman brothers in the mind of a rational market
Which has since been modified to this:
The physical impossibility of 2008 in the mind of the rational market
Wow. Now consider this:

Other than perhaps a couple of his dog sculptures, this is Damien Hirst's most famous work. Hirst, it should be said, is a charlatan of the first rank (although his balloon dog does make me happy). The title of the above work?
The physical impossibility of death in the mind of someone living.
Are you with me? Since I'm on vacation til Friday, I'll leave you with this:

John Chamberlain, the guy who makes the huge sculptures out of brightly painted automobile parts--bumpers in particular--once said that all his standing sculptures point directly back to Rodin's statue of Balzac, one version of which stands in the lobby of the Museum of Modern Art:

This is a Chamberlain piece:

Can you see what he's talking about? They're sculptures, so the pictures don't really do them justice. But assuming your answer is yes, now picture yourself on a train in a station.

Good. Now picture a stuffed deer head (perhaps a moose) attached to a vertical pile of wooden kitchen chairs, titled:
Richard Fuld, in the manner of Rodin's Balzac.
You do the math. I'm going to the Georges Braque show.