Episode 311: Jerry Saltz
Hey, before we get going, I wanna talk to you about our sponsor this week. Tapeh call a lot of journalists listening to this show. They should know about Tapeh call. If you find yourself on the phone going a, could you repeat that one more time because you were trying to scribble notes during a phone interview. You need to be present focused yourself and get in Saint with the other person, which means not scribbling those notes and instead using Tapeh call it is the industry standard car recording app is used by journalists from the New York Times, business insider ABC world news and many more, and you can try it. Risk free for seven days by going to tape a call dot com slash long-form. Thank you tape a call, focus on what matters and let typical take care of the rest. Also bringing you the show this week is a podcast that I am personally very excited in very excited about because I have. Been obsessed with the topic for quite some time, and I'm glad someone made a show about it. It's the dream a new podcast about the world of pyramid schemes and multilevel marketing all over the country. People selling essential oils, beauty products, diet supplements out of the garage on social media at parties. The host who Jean Marie used to be a producer for this American life, and she grew up in rural Michigan where almost everyone seemed impacted by l. m. l. m.'s aka make multilevel marketing schemes. You can listen to the dream in your favorite podcast app, apple podcasts, Stitcher or Spotify. Learn how these businesses work and how they go horribly wrong. Thanks to the dream for sponsoring long-form this week. Here's the show. Hello and welcome to the long form podcast. I'm Aaron Lamour here with Evan Ratliff max linski. Hey, guess every few years amid a pilgrimage to the offices of New York magazine, this time it was to talk to a guest who I've been excited about talking about for a long time. I don't think we've ever had an art critic on on the show, have we? I don't think so. There's probably only three of them getting paid in America right now. So it's not that crazy. I think we have the best known one. I'm coming on the show this week, and that's Jerry Saltz who was the longtime critic for the village voice and is now the critic at New York magazine. I did not know a lot about what he does though. I have been reading New York magazine for many years, and I think it's really fascinating. And this was like a really fun one to do, and I want to compliment you on a upping our critic game. I think we, we hear from. People sometimes who say you should have more critics and you've taken on that. I'm not sure I'm satisfying those people. I think that they still want something that we're not giving them. So if you if you feel like we don't have enough critics on this show, Email us editors at long firm dot org and tell us not that we don't have enough critics on the show, but what critics you would like to hear on the show I, there's one person I can tell you who satisfied today. Who's that Adrian Adrian Chan has lobbied for Jerry Saltz being on the show with a passion. I have not seen him bring to his professional life or his personal personal app. It's basically the only thing he cares about was doing that. And actually when I when I get went to Email Jerry to come on the show, the way that I found it was looking into my g mail for Adrian Chan Jerry saw and there was like three different times. He had sent me thanks to Adrian Chen for making this Megan. This happened, it wasn't that I didn't want to have Jerry Saltz on, but never has someone lobbied so passionately for for guests to come on. On the you go, Adrian, you know, who would read a good Email newsletter? Who's that Adrian Chen doesn't does he have one, I don't think so. I don't know felt good. And if he did and Email newsletter, Stewart mail, chimp I love Malcolm, you love Mel. Champ. We all love Malcolm. Thank you for your support of the show Malcolm. And now here's Erin with Jerry Saltz. Welcome Jerry Saltz. Thank you. We're here in the lovely offices of New York magazine, which has sort of cryptic hieroglyphic of what appears to me Java script instructions all are you able to decipher those? I have no idea, but it tells you that New York magazine is cracked the way to get to the future. Some we were actually just discussing that you have listened to the show, and in fact, your own boss at a mosque has been on the show, and it actually struck me that you've been doing this for a long enough when you get hired for a job like this, does it editor say, this is what we want out of you or you just on your own trajectory? At this point? Right when I was interviewed in two thousand seven by New York magazine, I was then senior art critic for the village force which I loved. I've been for ten. Years, and I had been a long distance truck driver which we can talk about. Yeah, I have no education, no degrees. No, nothing. And I got plucked lucky out of when I was forty something years old. I hadn't started writing till I was forty, but that's backing up too far. Well, I'm up to back up that far. Well, what led you to become a truck driver? I wanted to be an artist. Yeah, I graduated about last in my big, big, big, suburban, Chicago, high school, oak park, wherever forest Illinois, it was the late sixties. You have to understand. I'm sixty seven now and there was no art in my life. What so? Ever my suburb, none. So it's not like I had any serious grounding. Certain things had had. Happened with. Maybe we can talk about sort of primal experiences, but I graduated high school with no idea of going to school. Never even occurred to me, realize terrible student never did thing. Never never. Never, never. And then somehow I started going to the Art Institute of Chicago for about a year or two, but of course repeated the dump pattern. I never went to classes. I would go to protest marches and eventually I started an artist run arc Oury in Chicago nineteen Seventy-three call name gallery. It's because we couldn't think of a name. And our idea was to show other artists and than we would get a show once every two years or so. And I loved doing that. I can't tell you how much I love doing it. I loved sort of having a sense of control of building in our world of meeting artist of. Of curing shows and music platforms at the time in Chicago, I saw any famous blues men or jazz musician. You can name any any and tiny rooms with nobody there. Absolutely nobody. And then we would pay them like a hundred fifty dollars also then to perform in this dumb gallery of what was what was dumb about the gallery. Well, I didn't think it was dumb, but. It wasn't dumb frankly. I thought it was pretty full congraulate. Yeah, and fun. And at the time I worked in galleries, I had all sorts of jobs of a big, fuck up the whole time. I've been fired a lot and I was making art, and I started showing my work at name and I had to shows there and they both for kind of successful people bought my work. I got what's called the National Endowment for the arts grant, a massive grant of two thousand dollars that I took and moved to New York City with. I started showing in a gallery there got into the drawers of the nascent Barbara Gladstone gallery here in New York, and she's now a God goddess of the galleries at the time she wasn't. But nevertheless. So you know, I thought. Oh, gee, I guess I'm going to be artists. This is great, and then I got here and slowly the demon started speaking to me as they speak to us, they speak to anybody telling me I couldn't do what I said I was, and I began to listen and slowly stop. Making art is very painful. Being in New York was hard. Of course trying to make a living. I eventually became a local truck driver of art mind. You not of steel. I am Jewish and then that long story short. I stopped making art entirely and it hurt it really hurt. I was eaten alive by envy. I could not walk down the streets of New York without looking at every apartment every loft and go, you mother fuckers. That should be mine. I mean, I was like nuts. I was like self entitled self feeling sorry for myself at all times and furious with the world. Everybody, you know, the art world, everybody and I kind of absented. My seven became a long distance truck driver for many years actually, and in the trucks is where of so lonely and so fucking depressed that I thought, well, I love art. I've got to be in the art world, and I started thinking, well, maybe I could be art critic that must be easy, right? You wrote about this. Experience of giving up are in New York max a couple years ago, this year wasn't that long last year life as a failed artist and in reading back through that story and hearing you tell there, the thing that struck me both times was that he didn't really talk very much about what the art was that you are making like before that doubt, eight you inside. What did the flip side of that failing look likely will like, what did it feel like when you were an artist and optimistic and believed in yourself, and what was it that you believe that you should do? That's a great question because it makes me feel good again because the kind of the quietude the kind of internal space of that of standing in my case and. Listening to music and just being in the flow of making art all day. You know, in that sense of the smell of the materials, the sound of watching something form. I was on a twenty five year project to illustrate Dante's divine comedy. I was going to make one hundred works of art for each of the one hundred Cantos of Dante's divine comedy. And my thought was I would travel through hell with Dante through purgatory. And finally in the year, two thousand began the project January first nineteen seventy five and I was definitive on the last day of nineteen ninety nine why two k. And I made it to canto three before the real demons in hell. I didn't know that I had invented a project where I would confront what was already there, of course, but it felt so great to be an artist. I loved every second, except I hate it. I was tortured to did that perception that this was not for you or your work, didn't compare come from seeing the work of other people or did it come from inside you? I would say frankly, came from inside me because I was getting confirmation in my very small pond and the National Endowment and this interest in so-called sales. And I was reviewed in art forum magazine, which then as now is kind of the hip hipster magazine. So from the outside things look pretty good from the inside. They weren't PR. Good. We're pretty bad, very bad and I just thought, I don't know what I thought. I just didn't think it was real and it was easier not to work frankly, then to be brave to man up or woman up or grow a pair of whatever it was easier to this day. I think for all people who make things, it's easier if more torturous not to do the God damn thing, then do it to this day. I wake up early and I have to get to my desk to right almost immediately. I mean fast before the demons get me. I've got to get writing. And then once I've written almost anything up pretty much right all day, I don't leave my desk. I have no other life. I'm not part of the world except when I go to see shows and and my. Second self. It seems online quite gregarious. So my second self is having a ball, you know, few times a day, but so I quit and it came from the inside. The messages I believed were from the inside and I'm, I always tell artist, you know, you've got to make an enemy event v, you can't look around yourself and think everybody's got more money, better education, taller smarter knows their history is married. Well, all of that may be true, but you gotta get on with it or get out the art world is an all volunteer army. If you don't wanna be here, there's the door and I on fortunately walked out and it was the right decision in the end, but it hurts to this day. Hey, I'm gonna pause things here for a little bit more info about our sponsor this week. Tapeh call. 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Also bring you the show this week. Squarespace. I tell people to use squarespace all the time. There's a lot of reasons. I don't think it makes sense in this day and age to maintain your own site on your own server, unless you really know what you're doing and if you really know what you're doing, you probably have better things to do with your time. If you've got an idea and you wanna make it reality without jumping through a lot of hoops, squarespace is the way to do it. They've got great templates. Ecommerce functionality looks great on phones. They've had twenty four, seven ward winning customer support, nothing to patch or upgrade ever. So you can build a site now and not look great for years to come either empowering many, many millions of people from designers to lawyers to artists. To gamers to restaurants, to turn their idea into something real. If you want to be one of them go to squarespace dot com slash long form for a free trial, and when you're ready to launch your site, so you'll have to pay till you launch it. You can use code long form to save ten percent off your first purchase of a website or Demane again, that squarespace dot com slash long form offer code long form. Thank you squarespace here. I am back with Jerry songs. It sounds like in that you wake up and go right for that and write all day that you did find something for which it wasn't easier to not do it like it seems like you found the experience that you wanted from art in some way. Yeah, I think you're right. I think that's very perceptive what I needed that. I guess I wasn't getting from art at something a little bit more perform, frankly. Yeah, where my wife Roberta Smith, who's my favorite art critic, she's the co, chief are critic for the New York Times has said that to write weekly, the way that she does. I do an only a handful of people do is to perform live on stage. And for me, I got to perform live every night. I am on the road as it were. And in sicko way. I'm like Bruce Springsteen. Mike concerts are like three hours long. I will not stop until is there anybody alive there, and I haven't killed the entire audience. I'll keep going. An art. Didn't have that. That's a studio practice into private thing without feedback in real time from real audience to watch and feel the reaction beyond the streets of New York, and people stopped me and go. You really got that wrong or you got it ride or artists contacting me. All of that I realized is what I needed, and I didn't know I wanted and it might explain my second south my online, so which is so so interactive in my real life. My friends will tell you. I haven't gone to a sit down dinner and decades. I can't do it. I'm in. Capable, I'm not socially well adjusted. You and I would be seated next to each other. You're massively successful, you got this great podcast. See he can't take it. He's starting to demur and we would start talking and within three seconds, I would say to you. So what shows have you seen meaning art shows and yet go none. And I would look forward to not really speak again for the rest of the dinner. I have no other interests. I'm so boring and I'm not gonna ruin the dinner with Trump, you know, and if you're not a Yankee or giants fan, and so I don't know where I've come from, but I I, this is my whole life. The writing the performing live is the real mean now, even if it's no good. There's very few. Like when I think of like my Arctic interests, what are we call them? Now, the fine arts. The visual arts gallery are just calm are. So our yards are. I know a lot more about music and yovany. Sure about art because those were the things that I was interested in when I was a teenager and as the internet made being a complete assed more valuable to someone who's listening to music, who's interested in older movies, there was no parallel education in art that I received. I did, however, acquire a certain number of United Airlines miles, which caused me to start getting a MAG for miles promotion, which caused me to subscribe to New York magazine for free at some point shortly after graduating from college, which means that I've been reading your writing in New York magazine for a period of years while not going very many gallery shows. So when I think of what's happening out there you're experiencing, I am actually seeing it through your lens. My very impression of what's happening in art, I would say is like twenty. Eighty five percent from your writing. It's like twenty five percent from your writing twenty five percent from like going to museums in Europe when I'm traveling and maybe fifty percent from just weird things that I've crossed paths with and unpredictable ways and artisan Touma dating yet. Now all the awful painful real content of money, money money. Most people look at art and they see something disgusting. I to see that disgusting thing. I like that my voice could be one voice that people read in that I wanted to be accessible open, not intimidating. When you read me, I want you to be able to get from the top to the bottom a and b. I want you to be able to understand what I've said and not feel like I've Saturday done anything that you yourself could not kind of put. Together by looking again, I have no art history, no degrees. I am making this up as I go. Just like everyone is. I don't know what I'm doing, but I know how to do it. I think everyone has then common. I think every great artist, frankly, is self taught, and I'm four people going to school. I am not here on a podcast saying you kids stay out of school. If you can go to school that you don't accrue a gigantic debt do it. I might be envious betakeren view get to one of those good schools, but that's what I want my writing to be. And then I want you to be motivated to maybe start going to the galleries. You go willy seems to go to these galleries. I'll try to go and then not be afraid because the people behind the desks at galleries are exactly like you the poor, they're incredibly poor. Dave graduated they, oh fortune. They have two jobs. They're being paid nothing and they love art the way you love what you love. There's no difference in yet. People walk in the galleries and that you wouldn't believe how cruel they are to the people that work in them. I love those people. My wife and I think of them as people were trying to train there the next generation of gallery STS and I love I galleries are where new are comes from, and that's an important part of the system in that part of the system is really under attack. There's a certain kind of a writer who would say even like within like sports. I follow sports. I, I grew up the that, I guess you know, people would say, if you read like Bill Simmons, who's a sports podcast are like half of the time. He's talking about the NBA as a corporate entity in attendance in business who's gonna move, who, where who's going to buy what team? There's a tendency and I think the art world is as much like this as anything that you could probably spend all your time. Just writing about art is business about the people who are getting screwed at the bottom of the galleries, and the big art fairs and this and how the business is changing and all of the sort of underhanded ways that things really work, how the sausage is made. But I would think that if you wrote primarily about that, it would be hard to write about loving art in the same way that you just described those people as of. Vessel or being able to have it in the world. So I'm I'm wondering for you like, how does all that stuff interact like how do you? How do you know whether it's more important to write about what's on the walls or the lease on the building and the robo working? Really a good question. First of all, I want people to understand. I've written many times that about ninety nine point nine, nine, nine percent of artists don't make money, and the art world has become obsessed with the zero point zero. One percent that does make money, I tune obsessed with those people. When Jeff Koons the famous American artists has a show I go batch it like, is it good as bad? He's making three million dollars off this ball bowl. It's at. Larry goes in all of that becomes content for the work. And I think it's valid content, but I want people to always if it's possible. To see that content and then stop seeing it and see the art c. that content. See the prices, see the white box that it's being delivered in and the like death, star energy that might be coming from it except all that judge it as you will, and then put that aside for a second, if you can or keep using it and then look at the art and see what do I think of this art? Why? What's it doing successfully? How's it new house? It repetitious. How does it use materials? How does it use everything? And then when you walk out, you haven't just been in internal a whole of like going, if I ever see another gallery, this big and this rich on shoot somebody, right? You're supposed to be thinking that part of it. Even the rich galleries, think that they all will. I'll tell you that about each other. It's getting tough and let alone the middle in the bottom in any event. Art is doing just fine. Do your networking Niamh not in the least worried art. I tried to post like ten fifteen, unknown artists like a night on my idiot Instagram, which you should follow at Gerry salt. I think it is are kind of salon refuse outs where all this workers in play. You may not like all of it. I don't like all of it, but take a look at it, and there's a lot of optical information that's quite interesting that isn't always the same fifty five artists written by the same fifty, five academics whose work you never understand who's right about art in such a way that it's sort of bulletproof. You don't even know what their Pinon is, which I can't stay. Band, I love art form magazine. I can't say that I've ever understood much of what's in it, but it seems very important to me not in a bad way. I mean this with no wive in the, but there are many are roles art contains multitudes criticism contains multitudes, people do not have to be talking about the painting is dead criticisms dead. The art world is dead. Everything's dead. Everybody acts like an undertaker. It's a pain, stop saying that a medium dies when everything it was ever invented to solve has been addressed. Painting will stop existing. When that happens. It's an operating system that was developed in the caves a two dimensional abstract way to represent the three dimensional real world. So you on the. Outside could know what I'm thinking about on the inside and it would last it wouldn't disappear as it did in the cave dances or the way I painted my skin or sang a song in the caves. This was an operating system unlike almost all the others and it still for whatever idiotic reason seems to be viable. It is to me. So you have got to walk into a gallery or museum wherever you're experiencing art and have this gut reaction. I don't know if it is actually got reaction but have reaction. Then in some ways, try to capture that reaction internally, get home to your desk. I don't know if it's the next morning and write it up. And if I were to describe the defining part of your writing about art that I see as different beyond the sort of like academic lab. Language. stuff numb. I think that idea of trusting your reaction as being really central, and I can imagine you brought up the idea of envy before, and I've certainly experienced envy in my life of artists and art that that can poison your ability to have that puree action. And I would also imagine that doing it three hundred times a year can poison your ability to have that reaction does in many critics and you can. You can see it in their work. They hate this. I think that if envy will eat you alive, I think that cynicism will eat your work from the inside and it will rot and the only people I block online. I have two rules online. Everybody I've ever blocked always says, well, he blocked me because we disagreed. No, I love disagreement. I live for disagreement, disagree. I don't care. I have elephants skin. First of all, you're not going to hurt my feelings. You can never say anything worse to me about me or my work than I have said to myself thrice a day, three hundred times a day. I only block cynics who will tell me Jeff Koons for example, he's not real. He's a fake. He's not in ours. He only does this for money. People don't know that everybody's pretty sincere I, that's how I go in yet. Larry Gagosian as fucking sincere. I've met Jeff Koons the guys like Teletubby. Howdy, Doody. He's totally sincere. You may not like what he makes great good for you. Yeah, make case. So I block cynics and then the other people Ibaka's you can call me in name online, but you may not call anyone else in the thread. A name because that's when the threads go insane. I've, I learned them. So looking is the key gotta get quiet inside. And listen to what you think. And yeah, you're right. It's subjective. Art is subjective. Everybody has an opinion. There are people that look at Rembrandt and it's happened to me when I go through Rembrandt go or is an. I look at them for a while. I go kind of Brown. Little bit Brown. I'm having a hard time seeing these, but I'd like to quote a sword of quote from Wallace Stevens. My second favourite American poet after Walt Whitman, the the goes something like twenty two people crossing a bridge into a village. Are twenty two people crossing twenty two bridges into twenty two different villages. He's basically saying that while we both do cross into one village, that's the reality, the material reality of our journey, your village. The one you entered is very different than mine and the bridge you cross is totally different than mine and my Rembrandt is different than yours and what's really great about really great art is your hamlet in my hamlet are different and when it gets deeply great every single time you see, hamlet, it's different. So you're ham never stays the same that what you're looking for tiny elements of changing same yada, yada. So you go round of the galleries and you keep in mind. Did eighty five percent minimum of what you see is going to be crap. Eighty five percent of that. I feel like that's generous. Actually. I do not pretend that in itself as an optimistic take. Well, I'm going to be optimistic because if I see one inch of one work of art in a full day of looking one inch that makes me feel okay. Like, oh, wow, I'd never seen anybody use felt. Yes, that way. And I think that's great. But you have to keep in mind. Lets us you're going to say ninety five percent of what you see is crap. I say eighty five, but my point is that it's a fairly consistent number were eighty five percent of the art made in the renaissance was crap. Yes, you just never see it again. It's gone. The music written at the time of Bach. It's gone. We kept what consensus said was good. So what I want you to do is go wrong. Round and understand that the fifteen percent of the stuff that you may like that's good are for you. But my fifteen percent may be really different, and that's where gets interesting that where it starts to overlap and converge and then go part, and that's what I like to write about. I've talked to war reporters about, you know, okay, you're going to go into the zone. You're only going to be there for eight hours. We'll actually you're capturing details for an entire feature article and just a portion of one day couldn't be the same for being writing a profile who only have a couple of hours of access to celebrity. So for you in capturing that initial experience that rush, does your brain have a way of cataloging details? Do you start thinking of phrases that you're gonna use to describe the question again? I think that it's a lot of different levels. So I think. This is interesting because first of all, one thing I will do is draw picture of whatever I'm looking at. It's a sketch that you would never in a million years. Recognize this. What I'm looking at a material drawer. I couldn't draw then a catra now. So this is kind of like a floor plan. It's more plants. So what order does it come in? And okay, you draw picture this culture, then that photographed in this painting, you write little words on the checklist little idiot words like purple or too big, very, bumpy, shiny. I try to read the press release, but mostly they're gobbly Gook art, speak. And so my secret is to go to the last four sentences and usually down there, it'll kind of try to tell you what it is l. the rest is this is about nature and culture and the commodified object of late capitalism and how the Similac. GRA and it goes on and on. Everybody says the same thing. Can I ask you? Because I don't know how this works, who writes that it's usually written in conju with the artists in conjunction with the gallery. Yeah, my recommendation for artists. Here's what I want to say. Listen to me, artists writers. Let's. Here's how to raise statement, keep it simple. Stupid k, I s s right how you talk, right? How you'd think if you're artist's statement began, I grew up in, I always was interested in magic. You've already got me a little. Yeah, I'd see that show ready yet. I want to hear more about this person. Yes, I want you to keep it simple and don't use words like nature and culture. Just write about what you think you're doing in the simplest way, and I promise you it will be thirty times more interesting than thirty of the next statement you read and it's the beginning of learning to write, frankly, then not being intimidated by the process is very simple. Writing is easy. There is you have to learn. There is no such thing as writing there. It is only rewriting my pieces moved through thirty thousand drafts three hundred thousand in this is I'm a weekly critic, yeah, or sometimes daily and I have to work it out, work it out. It's completely done. It's bulletproof. You are a God and then you notice the whole first two sentences are stupid right before you send it, you rewrite them in that last one second. And that's the beginning of your piece. Just like that. The sentence that you spent the most amount of time, the opener would that fly? Like let's say, I got a big solo show at the golden gallery out of left field. No big surprise. And I was like, hey, I find this kind of writing pretentious and it's NFL to my art you. I would like the catalog to say this was inspired by my childhood magic. They would say, absolutely. Yes. You have to understand the galleries are not an EMMY. The gal. Stories are facilitators who are looking for ways to make more artists more money while they make money themselves. Most of the galleries that you see, even though you don't believe me now, they started from almost nothing yet are idiots like you. A lot of them wanted to be artists and some of them are successful. Again, one percent of one percent is successful and Gowaris will say yes to artists. In every case, yes. Now, millions of artists are listening to this saying, oh, no. This gallery said no to me. Well, then that's bad gallery. That's a bad gallery. Good galleries, trust their artists to make mistakes to fail the have to trust that failure, that there's something in there. How does your own experience running a gallery when you are. A young person affect meal. When you walk in and Bushwick and there's six people living in the back, not happens a lot, and you know mattresses have been moved to make a make room for the show at cetera. How do you reflect back on your own experiences, a young person being in a situation like that? I'm ashamed to say, I've never reflected back. I love the question so much like am I thinking about what it was like? I guess I am at all times because a couple of things. I think one any person who has hotspot in the corporation like me, you better goddamn son the artist book job. One walk into the gallery, don't be high and mighty enough not to sign the book. They wanna know have you been there dancing naked in public artists writers creative people. They have the sick need like you like me to dance. Naked in public. And they want to be seen if you only dance naked in private, some people the, you know, if you only make your own food, that's good for some people. Some people like cooking meals in hearing back from others. So you sign the book. Next, I want younger critics geezers like me. My wife for Berta Smith degrade Peter shell doll at the New Yorker weekly critics. These are and others. The older critics. You can't be aiming for us. We're too big in a way the space we have to fill. This is on Kolatsi paper. I want younger critics, three generations have to start going to three generations of younger dealers. Now you got to go. You can't just go writing about how bad Larry is. And Jeff Koons are Damien. Hirst is that's low fucking hanging fruit. Like I say, you wanna. Do one of those a year. Go ahead but you had to put yourself make yourself radically vulnerable. That's my motto, radical vulnerability. Did you have to be able to criticize your own generations and not just right. Dammit, positively. Everybody's in a way been coddled. Most artist graduate school never getting even a negative crypt. And when you got on in the world, you're going to hear some stuff's going to hurt your feelings. And I'm not seeing enough criticism out there of smaller galleries, newer artists, positive and negative. And I wanna see that it's also time I'm afraid the institutions are in trouble. We're in reckoning right now. My generation built disarmed world. We built the city and now it's rotting, it's big, it's beautiful. It's spectacular. And parts of it are dying. It's been overstaffed, it's over paid. They're overworked. Museums have to change. Obviously they have to have a a. Thousand times more diversity, a thousand times, and that's going to start happening. And it is a zero sum game, you'd better listen up people. It's zero sum game. It means older, white male critic, getting a job means somebody else isn't. That's what zero sum is which means from now on. Maybe we need those. Critics aren't going to get the job, a white male, middle aged painter may not get the show. I'm sorry, this is going to hurt. It's gonna hurt for five years. It's going to hurt for ten years into we get to the point where we can have a black woman painter as mediocre as a white male painter. When we reached the point we have parody and I'm happy. I want that. It's a zero sum game, which means. Enes don't pay so much attention to the gigantic institutions. You have to start your own institutions is time. It's easy. If you build it, they will come. I promise you, I, it's thirty five people. Then it's three hundred fifty. If you're any good and you have energy, it's all about energy. Put your own self on the line. You've got to build it. You weren't poorer than I was. I want to tell you something while you're listening to this going to easy for him to say, I too am one paycheck away from being broke. I posted my total life savings in two thousand fourteen on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter. That was I think, for thousand dollars. Okay. So you're gonna listen to this. Go, oh, you got a lot of money. Okay. I'm a thousand years old and I four thousand dollars. Okay. If I lose my job here and I have no contract at New York magazine. If I lose my job here, I don't have health insurance. So what am I trying to say? Woman up man up you at to build this art world, you had to make it up yourself. It's your energy completely. Don't look to the geezers. The way that you described what's happened and museums, there's an idea that they can become more diverse or more modern, but that's in some ways, modernizing the institution and there's a more radical place that art could go. You're posting artists on your Instagram feed now, like, do you ever consider that the the idea that the whole party will move on that these institutions the museums will just sees to be the kind of place an art critic goes. I don't see. Museums has ever being places that art critics wouldn't go to. Because all for me on art is contemporary art. That means when I look at a renaissance painting or cave painting in Indian Mundell, LA, all of it in the present premie this, the eternal present. Now when I'm dead, it's over. So while I do think we must go, not must, but it I, I go to the met with my wife forty times a year, and I still only pay like a quarter. You need to sneak in people. You just work it out when I was a kid. I never paid for anything not stop paying for things. I love going to seal. Darted speaks to me. I just walk around a museum waiting for something to talk to me. If nothing talks me, I go to the cafeteria. In the meantime, I want generations of younger critics going to the other institutions, what after they go to the met and the Whitney and the Guggenheim and the Brooklyn museum, it's Satra after that could other institutions artist run spaces, idiot places in Bushwick that are mostly bad, but maybe there's something good. Maybe there's something in you better talent. If. You don't, and we've lost a few generations. I think to academia, quite frankly, I say this is jealous person who didn't go in wishes that he did, and I do miss out on certain level of the discourse because of it. However, I've seen too many critics not putting out opinion. Or when they do it's buried into the second to the last sentence where they'll go. These sculptures were problem ties and you go wait. Is that bad? That good what you mean? It's problem at ties. I don't understand. Well, it's a language I don't understand is my problem, but we need more critics to write without jargon with the pinion about work from these generations because people are dying on the vine out there. It's ridiculous that a sixty seven year old critic. It's ridiculous that I'm the one posting all these pictures on Instagram. The people are hading liking and liking in hading. I want to talk about the writing because that sounds simple when you talk about it. But I find personally that writing about art, it's one of the hardest things for me to write about even casually when someone will say, hey, what. Did you think of this? The giving of an opinion is a very linguistically difficult act, I think. And so when you started, what year do you publish your first? I think about I'm born in fifty one. I sorta publishing, I think in ninety one. So it's fifty thousand six hundred seventy. One eighty not. I was forty when I sorted, right. Okay. It's ninety one right? New York City. Right? You're sitting down to write your very first few pieces. How does one describe what is on the wall of the show you describe the checklist, the rhyme, purple, shiny bubbly begin. I began in the wrong way, but it's the way everybody begins by trying to sound smart. Share the commodified object of the natural material used in this in a culture, aided blahdy blah. And I had no idea what I was writing about, but I knew what the language sounded. And that's how I began. And then deadlines deadlines are sent us from hell the heaven. What's so interesting about a deadline is when they start coming faster, you can't dissemble. You can't lie. You can't hide which your real thoughts are. And that's when it happened to me by fucking accident. I started putting off the writing. The deadline was coming and I pride myself on never having missed a deadline. It's a dumb rule, but it's the one I've kept. I've decided I've listened to many editors that are too furious at too many writers, and I just don't wanna be that guy. That's me. I'm a lot of assholes, but I'm not that one deadline is coming and it's time to put out what you think or shut up, get out and how do you begin? You know that you're going to mention the artist's name way up there. So you got at least. Two words of a sentence and that in my mind, I wanna get to words of description. So the big rectangular Aaron, what's your last name? Lamour has a presence that seems generic. Generic, but I'm bishops in that it wants, you know, and then start right there put out my feeling is that in the first two or three sentences, you should have a sense of some of the things I'm about to do. And when I stopped doing them, you should stop reading me and I have failed anybody that ever stops me on the street and goes while I started reading your review, and it was really great, and I'm going to read it later when they walk away. I think I failed because you don't pick up reviews and read them. Second time. It's one time I've gotta get you by the collar and keep you there for good, six minutes and that is not easy. Do your ideas change a lot while you're writing? Totally. I never know what I think before. I think it never know what I'm going to say before I say it. I'm always shocked. All of a sudden, I think I like. This guy, I love is podcast. I see his work. I think I like it. I get home. I find it's derivative in generic. What do I do? Well, it's very easy. The deadline tells you what to do. I have no time to quit. I don't have health insurance, so I've got an hour, right? The truth, which is Aaron's work is generic and derivative four. The following nine hundred words why I have to make my case. You can't say, Titanic is a bad movie. Good movie. That's fun. That's what you do after the movie. That's not what a review is you need to describe and judge. Describe and judge. That's what reviewing is, and it should be a pleasure to read for God's sake and maybe a little helpful for the reader to be a little less afraid to hate the writer more to like the artist lasts whatever. Is there a strong distinction between writing about a piece of art that was created this year versus a piece of art that's in a retrospective versus a piece of art that perhaps you've even written about previously twenty years ago, like there's the artistic eternal present yet these stories are of different half lives? Yeah, I often will confront work that I thought I'd like that then I don't or did I thought I didn't, and then I do, and I tried to deliver that up as well. What happens if your dead will I've been negative? Yes, I will. If I don't like. Turner, which I don't that much. I wanna write about that. I find it a little bit bombastic and overly obvious that he's painting fuzzy Goldie clouds of soot and clay yada, yada, and that I might prefer constable for the following reason. I think it's all the same. It's all in play. It's all Pinon you're going to say to me, but Jerry then it's all opinion in my answer is, yeah. So what's your opinion? Have you ever seen a cave painting? What's your opinion of it? Have you ever been? A lot of art was not meant to be in be seen by human eyes. Think of like inside sarcophagi in Egypt, that's only meant to be seen in the afterlife. Some art is meant to heal. Other art was meant only to sort of fly over your army to show that your army was stronger than the other. Some art is meant to cast spells. Fetishes are meant to get you pregnant or keep you from being pregnant. Art has a lot of uses. It has many uses. There's the famous story. I can't remember who told it of the judge at the Hague who was listening to the BAAs. Is knee and war trials who would go see Vermeer at every launch, and they said, why do you see for mere? 'cause through beautiful. Any went well? No, of course not. I see for MIR because he heals pain, you know? So it's only very recently that we've only had one use for art, which was to put a fifty three inches about in the center of a white room and hang it there and buy it. So I'm interested in opening up the discourse and understanding. I'm looking for voice Franklin every case in the writer in the artist in the person, what's your voice even if I don't like it if I don't like your voice, but it's individual. I love you. What was the biggest moment for you in the development here? Own voice. When did you start feeling like I'll I can read this and I can hear. Might true soul speaking. Not that trying to be smart. They do things. I think one was what I was trying to say, but deadlines that they force you to hear yourself. The second was how would that sound? Right? How would it sound well, when I tried to sound like I ca- -demia and our form and all those good things. I didn't like the sound of my own voice and didn't feel it was mine. But then when I read my wife Roberta Smith, I would read Pauling Kayal I would read people like an art critic named Sanford Schwartz, Peter shell, doll, Joan ACA Challah who writes some of the best first sentences I've ever read. I don't know what her secret is. I would hear what juice sounded like, what if felt like. And I thought all I have to do is right how I talk and hope. That I can then create a character that speaks in a certain way because I don't talk. I right in fact, I'm not very good conversationalist you at all. I'm long winded. You can tell. I don't know. I find this a malaria between how you talking right? You have your your exuberant yet in both forms. Yeah, I'm desperate exuberant, hopeful panicked, needy exuberance is not. I would say the default tone of art writing and somewhere along somewhere around the opposite. I wanna be a cheerleader exuberance. Yes, cheerleader. There's too many of those every critique is a good critique. All art is good. Art. Get outta here. Get outta here. What does it have been like being in an ongoing marriage with someone who does the same thing as you do? Do you discuss what you're working on in the house? Where I would wish would I have on anyone. I love being married to so may the does what I do. We talk about criticism, twenty four, seven, and I love it. I talked very little move as we have opera as a hobby, that the batter all we do. That's it. We are so boring. Like I say, haven't gone out to dinner in decades, no interest in it to me. I want to see the shows. We see twenty five to thirty five shows week. There's art to be seen. It's our job to see what's there. Good, the bad, the vary bed. Do we go to galleries alone or together on Saturdays? We begin together and then usually find our ways criss crossing. And then by the end of Saturday, we'll bump into each other at Alaska Alary. I love being married to somebody speaks my language that knows the demons I face and I know hers. His to know what it means to live under a deadline. Many artist disagree with me and they go. I could never live with another artist and I say, whatever gets you through the night, whatever gets you through the night. And if you want money, Mary a lawyer, whatever. I'm a sociopath when it comes to making your work, I really am. I don't care about you the person I only care about your good or bad art that is all I care about and whatever it takes to get your work made. I do not care if you have to take drugs to do it. That's what you have to do. If you're married to a lawyer and that's how you fund yourself. Good, good for you. I don't care. I'm not going to judge anybody because I know how I've been judged. I've been counted out. I am out. I've never written for art form. I've never been asked to write for those big, big cud logs. I'm not on. The important symposium, you know, I'm good with them. I'm good. What's out? I'm really lucky to be able to do what I do, and to be absolutely honest, I think about how lucky I am eighty percent of the time I walk around going. I do not believe I'm not a truck driver anymore. I don't believe it how bad how hard that was, and I always spent a lot of time thinking about a one last thing I wanted to say. But the luck is when I was first asked to come here to New York magazine. Your first question. I said, oh God, no, why would I want are right for New York magazine? I'm at the village voice which is super hip and underground cool and hot. I was paid four hundred dollars a week which to me is a fortune to this day. It's a lot of money, but I don't know everybody's different now and I told some friends and they went, don't you understand New York magazine is getting really great under out a moss and the voice will probably close. And I said, you're kidding, really? I said, I had no idea, and I called up New York magazine. I said, I've got to have this job, and Adam moss took me to lunch uptown who's one of the first and last launches I've ever done and a ritzy Tizi restaurant. And we talked for about three hours and the job never came up. And at the very end when we were leaving, I went woo. What about the job? And he said, oh, what about it? And I said, why would really like it and he went, okay like that. And he said, do you have any ideas about it? And I said, some silly thing or to any went. Sure. We'll talk about that and that was hit and my life has never been the same because I want to write for a big audience. I do. I'm not interested in only the specialist. I'm interested in anybody that might stumble across my idiotic work, begin it and may be keep going and see that art. It's about as specialist sports. Art is no more or less important in this universe to me. Then philosophy or religion that conomic six politics cooking. It's all part of the big bowl of wax and. That's what I want people to hear. It isn't the scary shit, hard thing. It's easy. Final question you've been doing this. How many, how many reviews do you think you've run? I have no idea where you did you stop counting at a specific numbering. Google I came out. Yeah, Google myself. Yeah. And I stopped definitely definitely over a thousand. Oh, yeah. Is there any summary to this project for you? Do you have any overriding ambition, to sum it all up or to say something definitive about a certain streak or certain artists? Just the art contains multitudes, really, and that I found a way to speak. Yes, through this other object, some people do to dancing others to singing and somehow just looking at art is a way to do to. Thank you, Jerry Saltz. Thank you. Thank long-form air Lamour is traipsing around Spanish countryside, true thing that he's doing right now. So he's not here to record these credits. I'm maximum ski. Our other co host is Evan Ratliff our editors piper, and our intern is Thailand McCloskey. Our sponsors this week, the fun people at mail chimp who've made this show possible for years Tapeh call squarespace and pit writers reading department at the university of Pittsburgh. Thanks to them for their support, and thanks, Jerry Saltz that interview. We'll see you next week.