Episode 311: Jerry Saltz, art critic at "New York"


Hello and welcome to the long-form podcast. I am your co host Aaron. Lamour we are really we running some of our favorite episodes over the break. This one is with me and the art critic Jerry Saltz hope you enjoy it It's brought to you you as always by mail chimp. They make this show possible they make it possible for us to play it again enjoy. We'll be back soon. Welcome Jerry Saltz thank you. We're here in the lovely offices of New York magazine which has assertive cryptic hieroglyphic of what appears to me. Javascript instructions. Are you able to decipher this. 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 The you have listened to the show and in fact your own boss at a mosque has been on the show. It actually struck me that you've been doing this for long enough when you get hired for a job like this does an editor say this is what we want out of you or are you just on your own trajectory actor at this point right. When I was interviewed in two thousand seven by New York magazine I was then that senior art art critic for the village voice which I loved? I've been that 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 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 backup that far. Well what led you to become a truck driver. I wanted to be an artist. Yeah I graduated about last I in my big big big suburban Chicago High School Oak Park River Forest Illinois. It was the late sixties. Is You have to understand. I'm sixty seven now and there was no art in my life whatsoever. My suburb none. So it's not like I had any serious grounding. Certain things had happened with. Maybe we can talk about sort of primal experiences us 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 I never went to classes I would go to protest marches and eventually I started an artist run art gallery in Chicago. Nineteen in seventy three called name gallery. It's because we couldn't think of a name and our idea was to show other artists and then we would get the show once every two years or so and I loved doing. I can't tell you how much I love doing it. I loved sort of having a sense control of building in our world of meeting artist of cure rating 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. Yeah they're absolutely nobody and then we would pay them like one hundred fifty dollars also then to perform in this dumb gallery of what was what it was dumb about the gallery well. I didn't think it was wrong. But it wasn't dumb. Frankly I thought cutters pretty fucking great. Yeah and fun and at the time I worked in galleries I had all sorts of jobs. I was a 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 had two shows there and they both were kind of successful. People bought my work. I got what's called the National Endowment Dowman for the arts grant a massive grant of two thousand dollars that I took and moved to New York City with I started showing being 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 this 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. 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 stopped. Making art is very painful. Being in New York was is 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 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. I that should be mine. I mean I was like nuts I was like self entitled South. Feeling sorry for myself at all times uh-huh and furious with the world. Everybody you know the art world. Everybody and I kind of absented. My seven became a long distance truck carver for many years. Actually and in the trucks is where I was 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 in New York a couple years ago this year wasn't that long ago last year. Life is a failed artist and in reading back through that story and in hearing you tell it there the thing that struck me both times James was that you 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 feeling like like? What did it feel like when you were an artist an optimistic and believed in yourself and what was it that you believe that you should do? Rats that's a great question because who makes me feel good again because the kind of the quietude the condom internal space of that of standing funding in my case and Listening to music and just being in the flow of making art all day in that sense of the smell smell of the materials the sound of watching something form. I was on a twenty five year project to illustrate. Dante's this divine comedy. I've going to make one hundred works of art for each of the one hundred cantos of Dante's divine in comedy and my thought was I would travel through hell with Dante through purgatory and finally in the year two thousand. I began the project January. First Nineteen seventy five and I was finished on the last day of nine thousand nine hundred ninety nine. Why Two K.? And I made it to Canto Santos 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 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 and the so-called Salesperson. I was reviewed in Art Forum magazine. which then as now house kind of the HIP hipster magazine so from the outside things look pretty good from the inside? They weren't pretty good. We're pretty 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 Frankley 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 tortuous not to do the God damn thing then and do it to this day. I wake up early and I have to get to my desk to write 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. Online is quite gregarious. So my second south is having a ball a 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 towel artist. You know you've got to make an enemy of envy. 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 all anterior army. If you don't WanNa be here there's the door and I unfortunately walked out and it was the right decision in the end but it hurts to this day. It sounds like 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 NCUA right and 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 art critic for the New York Times News has said that to write weekly the way that she does. I do only a handful of people do is to perform live on on stage and for me. I got to perform live every night. I am on the road as it were. And in a Sicko way. I'm like Bruce Springsteen Steve. My concerts are three hours long. I will not stop until is there anybody alive there. If I had and killed the entire audience I'll keep going an art. Didn't have that. That's a studio practice to private thing without feedback in real time from a real audience to watch and feel the reaction beyond the streets of New York and people stopped me and go you really. We got that wrong or you got it right 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 self which is so so interactive in my real life. My my friends will tell you. I haven't gone to a sit down dinner and decades. I can't do it I'm incapable. I'm not socially well adjusted. You and I would be seated next to each other. You're massively successful. You got this great podcasts. He he can't take it. He's starting to Demur. And we would start talking walking and within three seconds I would say to you so what shows have you seen meaning are chosen. You'd go. None and I would 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 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 live is the real mean now. Even if it's no good there's very few like when I think of like my artistic interests what are we call them now. The Fine Arts visual arts gallery are just call mark sorry arts I know a lot more about music and he lovie sure art because those were the things that I was interested in when I was a teenager and as the Internet made being a complete est more valuable to someone who's listening to music music. WHO's interested in older movies? There was no parallel education in art that I received I did however Acquire a certain 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 New York magazine for a period of years wall. Not Going to 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 five percent from your writing. It's like twenty five percent from your writing twenty twenty five percent from going to museums in Europe when I'm traveling and maybe fifty percent from just weird things that I've crossed paths. That's with an unpredictable ways and artisan timothy dating now all the awful painful real content turned to money money money. Most people look at art and they see something disgusting I to see that disgusting thing. I like that. My I've oyster could be one voice that people read in that. I wanted to be accessible. Open not intimidating Timothy. Dating 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 Saturd- 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 a common. I think every great artist frankly is self taught and I'm four people going went to school. I am not here on a podcast thing. You kids. Stay out of school if you can go to school that you don't crew gigantic debt do it. I might be envious. Batik view can 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 evaded to may be stark onto 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 behind the desks at galleries are exactly like you. The poor. They're incredibly poor. Dave graduated they oh fortune they have 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 walking the galleries and that you wouldn't believe how cruel they are to the people that work in them. I loved those people my wife and I think of them as people were trying to train the next generation of gala wrists and I love gowers galleries are where new are comes from. And 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 a who say even within like sports. I Follow Sports Fan. I guess you know people would say if you read like a 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 S.. 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 ars and this and how the business is changing all the sort of underhanded ways that things really work how the sausage is made. But I would think that if you wrote primarily early about that it would be hard to write about loving art in the same way that you just described the people as a vessel or being able to have it in the world so I'm wondering for you like how does all that stuff interact like how to use. How do you know whether it's more important to write about? What's on the walls or the lease the building and the really good question? First of all I want people to understand I've written many times did about ninety nine point nine nine nine nine percent of artists. Don't make money and the art world has become obsessed with the zero point. Zero one percent does make money. I too am obsessed with those people when Jeff Koons the famous American artists has a show. I go batch it like is it good it is bad. He's making three million dollars off this ball bowl it's at Larry Gagosian 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 tent and then stop seeing it and see the art scene that content see the prices. See The white box that 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 all 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 why what to 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 I mean just been an internal a whole of like going if I ever see another gallery this big and this rich. I'm going to shoot somebody. MM Buddy right. You're supposed to be thinking that part of it even the rich gallery. I think that they all will tell you that about each other. It's getting tough off and let alone the middle and the bottom in any event art is doing just fine. I'm not in the least worried hard. I tried to post like ten fifteen unknown artists like a night on my idiot. INSTAGRAM which you should follow at Jerry. Assaults are kind of salon refuse outs. Where all this workers in play you may not like all of it? I 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 it's 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 sort of bulletproof you don't even know what their opinion is which I can't stand? I Love Art Form Magazine. I can't say 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 irony any but there are many are roles art contains multitudes criticism contains multitudes people do not have to be talking about the and painting is dead. Criticisms Dad 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. We'll stop existing disting- when that happens it's an operating system that was developed in the caves. A two dimensional abstract extract way to represent the three dimensional real world. So you on the outside. Could know what I'm thinking about on the inside aside and it would last wouldn't disappear as it did in the cave dances or the way I painted my skin or sang being a song in the caves. This was an operating system. Unlike on the salty others. And it's still for whatever. Idiotic reason seems to be viable liable 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 exit got reaction but have a 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 defining part of your writing about our that I see as different beyond the sort of like academic 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 of artists. Art that can poison your ability to have that pure reaction and I would also imagine the 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 lead you alive. I think that cynicism will eat your work from the inside wide and it will rot and the only people I block online. I have two rules online. Everybody I've ever blocked always. He says well he blocked me because we disagreed. No I love disagreement. I Live for disagreement. A disagree I don't care I I have elephants skin first of all. You're not gonNA hurt my feelings. You can never say anything worse to me about me or my work than I have said to myself off 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 as a fait he's now dinars. He only does this for money. People don't know that everybody's pretty sincere. That's how I go in yet Larry Gagosian. Coaching is fucking sincere. I've met Jeff. Koons the guys like teletubby howdy. doody he's totally sincere. You may not like what he makes excrete good for you make case so I block cynics. And then the other people Ibaka's you can call me a name online but you may not recall anyone else in the thread a name. Because that's when the threads go insane I learned them so looking is is the key. You've 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 and to me when I go through Rembrandt Gorey's and I look at them for a while. I go kind of Brown Little Bit Brown. I'm having a hard time Cindy's but I'd like to quote a sword of quote from Wallace Stevens. My second favourite American poet after Walt Wittman 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 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 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 that eighty five percent minimum of what you see is going to be crap. Eighty eighty five percent of that. I feel like that's generous. Actually I do but I'm not percent back in Nevada that in itself as an optimistic thing. Well I'm going to be optimistic because if I not one inch of one work of art in a full day of looking one inch that makes me feel okay like wow. I'd never seen 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 where eighty five percent of the art made in 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 round and understand that 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 it gets interesting that where it starts overlap and converge and then go part art. 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. Are there for eight hours intentionally. You're capturing details for an entire feature article in just a portion of one day could be the same for reading reading a profile who only have a couple of hours of access to celebrity so for you in capturing that initial experience that Russia Josh. Does your brain have a way of cataloging details. Do you start thinking of phrases that you're going to use to describe the question I can. I think that it's a lot of different levels. 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 immidiate years. Recognize this what. I'm looking at a terrible drawer. I couldn't draw then Catra now so this is kind of like a floor or plan. Of what order does it come in and new okay. You draw a picture this culture then that photographed in this panning. 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 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 objective 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 spat it's usually written in conjunction with the artists in conjunction with the gallery? Yeah my recommendation for artists. Here's what I want to say. Listen to me artists and writers. Listen here's how to raise statement. Keep it simple stupid K I S S S.. Right how you talk right how you think. If you're artist statement began I grew up in. I always was interested interested in magic. You've already got me a little. Yeah I'd say that ready yet. I WanNa hear more about this person. Yes I want you to keep it simple. Oh 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 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 not being intimidated by the process. It's very simple. Writing is easy there. Is You have to learn. There is no no such thing as writing. There is only rewriting. My piece is moved through thirty thousand drafts. Three hundred thousand in and this is I'm a weekly critic or sometimes a daily and I have to work it out. Work it out. It's completely done it's bulletproof. You are a God odd 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 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. 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 unethical to my art. I would like the catalog to say this was inspired by my childhood magic. They would hit absolutely yes. You have to understand the galleries. These are not enemies. The galleries are facilitators. Who are looking for ways to make more artists more money Johny 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. You're idiots it's 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 Galleries will say yes to artists in every case yes now. Millions of artists are listening to this saying Oh no this gallery. He said no to me. Well then that's bad gallery. Asa Bad gallery good galleries trust their artists to make mistakes mistakes to fail the have to trust that failure that there's something in there. How does your own experience burning a gallery when you're young person affect me and when you walk in Bushwick and there's six people living in the back and that happens a lot and and you know mattresses have been moved to make make room for the show etcetera? How do you reflect back on your own experiences? A young person being in a situation like that. I'm ashamed to to say I've never reflected back. Love the question so much like am I thinking about what it was like. I guess I am all times because a couple of things I I think one any person who has hotspot in the corporation like mean 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. They're dancing naked in public. Artists writers creative people. They have a sick need like you just like me to dance naked in public and they want to be seen if you only dance naked in private some some people in 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. Roberta Smith the Great Peter. Shell doll at the New Yorker weekly critic. It extends our and others the older critics. You can't be aiming for us. We're too big in a way the space we have to Phil this is I'm colosseum paper. I want younger critics. Three generations have to start going to three generations nations of younger dealers. Now you gotta go. You can't just go writing. About how bad Larry is. Jeff Koons are Damian. Thursdays is that's low fucking hanging fruit like I say you want to do one of those a year. Go ahead but you had to put yourself make yourself radically Kraivong that's my motto radical vulnerability that you have to be able to criticize your own generations and not just stride dammit positively. Everybody's in a way been coddled mosque artist graduate school never getting even a negative crypt. And and when you get out 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 galleries newer artists positive and negative. And I WANNA see that. It's also time I'm afraid. The institutions are in trouble bull. We're in reckoning right now. My generation built this our 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 thousand times more diversity a thousand times and that's going to start it happening and it is a zero sum game. You'd better listen up people. It's a zero sum game that means older white male critic getting a job means somebody else. Isn't that what zero sum is which means from now on. Maybe we need those. Critics aren't going to get at the job. A white male middle aged painter may not get the show. I'm sorry this is GonNa hurt. It's GonNa hurt for five 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 reach that point we have parody. And I'm happy I I want that. It's zero sum game which means don't pay so much attention to the gigantic institutions. You have to start 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 than it's three hundred and 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 WanNa tell you something while you're listening to. This guy is not easy for for him to say I too am one paycheck away from being broke. I posted might total life savings in two thousand fourteen on on facebook instagram twitter. That was I think. Four thousand dollars okay. So you're gonNA listen to this ago. Oh you got a lot of the 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 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 in 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 these institutions. The museums will just seize to be the kind kind of place and art critic goes. I don't see museums has ever being places that are critics. Wouldn't go to because all for me. All Art is contemporary art. That means when I look at Renaissance Painting Cave painting in Indian Mangala all of it in the present for me this the Eternal Journal present. And then when I'm dead it's over so while I do think we must go not must but I'd I go to the Mat with my wife forty 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 thing not stop paying for things I love going to seal darted speaks to me? I just walk around the museum waiting for something to talk to me. If nothing talks I go to the cafeteria. In the meantime I want generations of younger critics going to the other institutions solutions. What after they go to the met and the Whitney and the Guggenheim and the Brooklyn Museum at Satra after that could other institutions Artist run spaces idiot places in Bushwick that are mostly bad. Maybe something good. Maybe there's something in you better tell it if you don't and we've lost a few generations I think to academia quite frankly I say this. This is a jealous person who didn't go in wishes that he did. And I do miss out on a certain level of the discourse because of it however offer 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 the sculptures were problem typist. And you go wait. Is that bad that good. What you mean it's problema 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 opinion about work from these generations because people are dying on the vine out. There it's ridiculous that 67-year-old critic it's ridiculous that I'm the one posting all these pictures on instagram. That people are hating liking liking in hating saying I want to talk about the writing because it sounds simple when you talk about it but I find personally that writing about our. 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 very linguistically difficult. Act Act I think and so when you started right what what year do you publish your first I think about. I'm born fifty one. I started publishing. I think in ninety he wants fifty thousand six hundred seventy eighty not four. I was forty when I started right. Okay it's ninety one New York City right. You're sitting down to write your very first few pieces. How does one describe what is on the wall? Show you describe the checklist. The the Ad Right Purple Shiny Bubbly Begin. I began in the wrong way. But it's the way everybody begins by trying to sound smart sheriff. The commodified object of the natural material used in this You know cultural rated blahdy Blah and I had now idea what I was writing about but I knew what the language sounded like. And that's how I began and then deadlines deadlines are sent to 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 don't lie. You can't hide which real thoughts are and that's when it happened to me by fucking accident. I started putting off the writing. The deadline line was coming and I pride myself on never having missed a deadline. It's dumb rule. But it's the one I've kept. I've decided I've listened to mini 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 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 name way up there so you got at least two words of a sentence and then in my mind I want to get to words of description so the big rectangular Aaron. What's your last name? Lamour has a presence that seems generic generic but ambitious yet in that it wants you know and then and 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 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. Awesome read 'em second time. It's one time I've got to get you by the collar and keep you there for good six minutes and that 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. You never know what I'm going to say before I I say I'm always shocked all of a sudden. I think I liked this guy. I love this podcast. I see his work. I think I like it. I get home I 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 a now right the truth which is aarons works. Generic and derivative four the following. Nine hundred wirtz. That's why I have to make my case. You can't say titanic is bad movie good movie that's fun that's what you do after the movie That's not would've review is you need to describe and judge describe and the 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 this afraid to hate the writer more to like the artist last whatever. Is there a strong distinction between writing about a piece. He's have 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 two years ago like there's the artistic eternal present. These stories are of different half lives. Yeah I often will confront work worked. I thought I'd like that then I don't or that I thought I didn't in than I do. And I tried to deliver that up as well. What happens if your dead will? I be negative. Yes I will if I don't like Turner which don't that much I want to write about out that I find it a little bit Bombastic and over leave 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 opinion you're going to say to me but Jerry. Then it's all opinion in my answer is yeah. So what's what's your opinion. Have you ever seen a cave painting. What's your opinion of it? Have you ever been a lot of our was not meant to be even be seen by humanize. I 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 Bosnian war trials els who would go see Vermeer at every launch and they said why. Do you see for miracles through beautiful. Anyone will 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 who put up fifty three inches about in the santer of a white room and hang it there and buy it so I'm interested. Chris did 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 individual I I love you. What was the biggest moment for you in the development of your own voice? When did you start feeling like I'll I can read this and I can hear my true so all speaking not that trying to be smart that your views 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 academia man 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 re polling Kale. I would read people like an art critic. Name Sanford Schwartz. Peter Shall Doll Joan Aca Chela. Who writes some of the best first sentences I've ever read? I don't know whether secret is. I would hear what juice sounded like what it felt like an 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 right in fact. I'm not very good conversationalist you at all will. I'm long winded. You can tell I find this a malaria. Between how you talking right well. You have your your exuberant current in both forms. Yeah desperate exuberant hopeful. Panicked needy exuberance is not I would say the the default tone of art writing and somewhere along somewhere around the opposite. I don't want to 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 else where I would wish what I have on anyone. I love being married so may the does what I do. We talk about criticism twenty four seven and I love it. I talked very little movies. We have opera as a hobby. That the better all we do. ooh That's it. We are so boring like I said. I 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 good the bad. The very bad do we go to galleries alone are together on Saturdays. We begin together and then usually they find our ways criss crossing and then by the end of Saturday. We'll bump into each other at Alaska salary. I love being married to somebody that speaks my language that knows the demons I face and I know hers too knows what it means to live under a deadline. Many artists 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 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. Okay Buddy because I know how I've been judged I've been counted out I am out. I've never written for our form I've never. I've been asked to write for those big big catalogs. I'm not on the important symposium. You know I'm good with that. I'm could without. 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 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. I spent a lot of time thinking about a one last thing I wanted to say but the lock is when I was first asked to come here to New York magazine. Your first question. uh-huh I said. Oh God no why would I want are right for New York magazine. I met village voice which is super hip and underground 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 I 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 Outta Moss in the voice will probably close. And I said you're kidding. Really said I had no idea and I called up New York magazine and I said I've got got to have this job and Adam. Moss took me to lunch uptown news one of the first and last lunches. I've ever done an Ritzy Tizi restaurant and we talked for about three hours in the job never came up and at the very end when we were leaving I went 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 Germany ideas about it and I said some silly thing or to any went. Sure we'll talk about that. And that was it and my life has never been the same because because I want to ride for a big audience I do. I'm not interested in only specialist. I'm interested didn't anybody that might stumble across my idiotic work begin it and maybe keep going and see that art part. It's about a specialist. Sports art is no more or less important in this universe to me then philosophy or religion economics politics cooking. It's all part of the big ball of wax. And that's that's what I want people to hear. It isn't the scary shit hard. Think it's easy final question. You've been doing this. How many how many reviews do you think you've earned? I have no idea where you did. You Stop County. got a specific number when Google first came out I 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 eating ambition to sum it all up or to say something definitive amount of certain streak or a certain artists just the art contains multitudes. Food's really and that I found a way to speak. Yes through this other objects. Some people do dancing others to singing and somehow just looking at art is a way to do it to thank you Jerry Saltz. Thank you Thank you for listening to this. Re Airing of the long foreign podcast asked interview with Jerry Saltz. I'm your co host. Aaron Lamour the show has also hosted by Max Linski and Evan ratliff. This episode was originally edited by Janelle. Pifer our intern is Marina CLEMENTI. We're brought to you by incredible sponsors like mail chimp and pit writers at the University of Pittsburgh they make this show possible to air and re air and we appreciate it. Thanks to everyone who has listened to the show. Oh this year it really means a lot to us. We'll be back with new episodes very soon uh-huh.

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