You create counter-conditions, as though a documentary
or anti-documentary were developing.
By documentary, do you
mean a narrative or a freeze-frame out of a narrative?
freeze-frame that gains its information or disinformation from real life
in the way that
Edward Hopper made it his business to show the frying of the eggs or the
tragedies that happened in each of the cubicles he painted, whereas in
your work that referencing is obscured or retracted, although its end
result is more disturbing.
Yes. I had one of those gigs where
you give a talk and a crit and do something with grad students. We
gathered at a street corner, I picked one window of this building and drew
everyone's attention to the things happening. I got some light-hearted
blp on power plant, New York
work, the documentary promise is compounded by detachment.
I would say that social criticism has no place.
Tell me more about
Everything counts. This was a real epiphany at 39. I was
going to be 40 – what can I do? I don't waste anything. I'm in this shop,
making furniture – I've got a couple of guys working there. I knew their
language, which was Spanish, and I got closer to them. This was something
that didn't just happen, it was very conscious. The only way I can get
extra time is to be present for whatever's going on – to be present.
Is the detachment in Lefrak and the Apartment House and the
Office Scene –
You know, I don't think they're very
They're brooding and unsettling –
That's coming around to something we spoke about earlier. If you see
everything at once, a category becomes formed. Yes and no were a great
invention. We invented that. Yes and no implies a sense of sets, breeding
communication, saving time. Language is an abridgement of what happened,
but I'd hate to be without it.
What is the shift from your
earlier drawings to the current ones? There's a majestic quality in the
Oh, thank you. I just finished a bunch. It was a
pretty dead time for a while – that happens. I had a string of them in the
past few days and they're really quite good. A bunch of them are small. At
least half a dozen are just a loop of some kind. There's a contour drawing
of a shoulder; the forearm, the elbow looks as if it's been cut off. Just
Ingres' drawings, where he excerpts the hands?
that. Yeah. It's a generic gesture. An incision has been made.
That's unusual in your drawings. It reminds me more of
There have been stretches when I haven't been
able to do any sculpture – In this bunch I did last week, there's
substance, and it might be pizza dough in a ball that's thrown back and
forth – that much integrity, which is not very much. Some of them tend to
float, some are anchored. Unavoidably, there's gravity operating, and I
don't like to say abstract, they're just monads with something in between.
Untitled (Vista Landscape), 1981
Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2003
Renoir in his later years did linear drawings, a kind of purge of his
former indulgence – they show that you have to distort. A contour has to
suggest that things are predictable. I see things you see, and you see
things I see. Art is social. It's a communication. You learn from
drawings, like the
da Vinci drawings, of course.
Did you see the da Vinci
show at the Metropolitan Museum?
I saw it at an angle of 45
degrees, because you couldn't really get up close. But in reproduction
they're really fine. I learned from those years ago. I learned from my mom
too, she was really O.K.
She studied at the
Corcoran School of Art in Washington and was an artist. Did you see the da
Vinci drawings for the
Battle of Anghieri –
It's the greatest drawing of all time. That is something! It may be on
that sheet, but there's also a smaller version or spin-off. I looked at
this in despair. It's an amazing drawing. All that dying and all those
killers. A depletion and an acceleration lashing out at each other. A
backward and forward progression that reminds me of your work. Da Vinci's
sensibility is similar to yours, though the manner of drawing isn't. How
do your recent drawings and paintings jog or propel information?
That happens under your hand. You pick up things when you teach yourself, but
you have to be looking for something, that's always the demand: you're not
really doing a freeze-frame. You have a freeze-frame to work from, but a
picture doesn't move.
In da Vinci's battle, the viewer is
in the middle of the fight.
Oh, yeah. Because he gets you up
close – and who used to do stuff like that?