Saturday, September 26, 2009
I had dinner with Joel Peter Witkin last night.
Growing up (I'm still in the process) I have seen a lot of art. I have seen a lot of artists. I have seen a lot. One has to, its part of the art buisness, if one can call it a business, and Im starting to think it is (foolish me) I have never really connected with other artists (living or dead) I was never the artist who could gaze at art for hours in some kind of tantric bliss. I just didnt feel it, it just wasn't me. 'I have looked a lot' Matisse once said.I know how he feels. I try not to miss a great exhibition or even a not so great one. I try not to miss anything where I think I might find another piece of the jigsaw puzzle. When I first went to New York I was invited to studio 54 by a friend who thought it was all a bore. I couldnt wait. O.K. to be honest the place was a bore, unless you are into shattered ear drums, bad music,and bad coney island fairground lighting.Snorting huge amounts of coke and doing things to very ill looking skinny girls that didnt look pleasent. Needless to say, studio 54 was not my cup of tea. That said, I did meet a lot of people there. I met Andy Warhol (who looked like someone trying to impersonate Andy Warhol ) and who seemed to take a brief liking to me. We chatted (or rather I did) over the loud music for 10 minutes.I told him about my art and who I was and so on and on and on..His response was (if you could actually tell there was one) 'you are very clean' I took this to mean! well!!!! er!!!!!!! Well Im not sure....Years later when I worked for Tropic magazine as the art director, I had the good fortune to spend the day with Robert Rauchenburg. He was installing a huge mural at the local museum (MAM).It was good to meet him, I liked his work and I liked the fact that he had a drinks trolly following him around. He asked me if I would be at the opening (I hadnt planned on it, 11 hours that day with him seemed enough) but I said yes anyway..The next night I went along to say hello. He was already sourrounded by 300 blue haired ladies by then, but managed to see me throught the haze of hair lacquer and beckoned me over.I cut through the sea of facelifts with big bank accounts to say hello.He gave me the biggest bear hug that went on forever and ever (actually 5 minutes) It was almost sex.I could tell from the fumes bellowing out of his mouth that he must have had a million drinks by then.It was fun, he was a very good artist and a very nice man.
Many years later I was staying with my dear friend Billy in the Hollywood hills overlooking LA. Pure magic. It was beautiful and rich and I felt at home (although I always felt like quasimodo compared to all the droves of beautiful talentless people).I had dinner and lunch quite a few times with David Hockney.We both had the same art shcool in commom and became (friends would not be the word, but the next rung down on the ladder) We would fax each other art . He was a little boring and talked and talked about...well nothing really.I liked him though.It always fun to meet famous artists. Why am I telling you of all this you ask? Well Im not sure (maybe its the martini) I never really liked that many artists.I never thought they were that good.It always amazed me how very little talent could go a long way. Picasso Braque Miro kieffer,Tapies (sometimes )Twombly (always) and a few others have touched me, but its rare. When it came to photography and photographers I am at a loss.I think photography is an easy art. I think a lot of people have built a massive carear around there index finger hitting the shutter.Although I do love to hear photographers talk up what they do, always amusing. There are few and far exceptions.I could tell you some juicey stories of when I worked with Anne Lieberwitz ( I wont because she seems to be needing good vibes about now ). I could tell you about the time I worked with Mary Ellen Mark for 10 days (I wont because it will give me a headache) Needless to say, I dont think many photographers are very good.In fact I think 95% of them are very bad.
I am always amazed to what people consider 'A great photo' What do they mean by that? The answer is easy. A 'great photo' really is mostly just a 'good photo' 'a good situation', 'a good moment' captured in that split second. It is not a great photo. Its a good photo achieved by luck or being at the right place at the right time. As for set up photos like in fashion, I think most are lame, very similar, almost a formula. I could go on but I think you get the point.Can you remember the last 'Great' photo you saw? If so I would like to see it. So I very seldom use the word great to describe a photo let alone a photographer. They do exist but its a rarity They could almost be counted on one finger let alone a hand. Photography has a long way to go. It will get there. It has too.
I had dinner with Joel Peter Witkin last night........A great photographer indeed.