3/08/2006

Zak Smith

249 comments:

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punk illustrator-hater said...

Oh dear God, no!

Anonymous said...

This work looks too similar to ads for SVA on the subway.

Anonymous said...

totally embarrassing ....

Anonymous said...

kinda cute though. In a blue haired, tatoo sort of way.

Anonymous said...

HORRIBLE

joe strummer said...

who tha 'ell's 'is bloke think he is?

fairy butler said...

i don't even know where to start with this...

Anonymous said...

A huge talent, the next Warhol.

brainshred said...

this is so fucking shallow-looks like precocious highschooler-the next warhol indeed or are you kidding-

Anonymous said...

What do we think of men drawing women like this, in this day and age?
It doesn't offend me it just seems out of style, And the attempt to use hip models just makes it worse.

Anonymous said...

Anon What does this work have in common with Warhol?

fairy butler said...

the warhol comment is a joke.

Anonymous said...

not only an overhyped artist but a total punk asshole--

JD said...

Wow, I don't have much to add to the above comments. Except, I'm going to sleep now, curled up in a fetal position.

Anonymous said...

I'm a middle class punk rocker. Fierce!

Anonymous said...

worst artist to hit the blog yet. i don't understand how he got so far, it's good to know that it'll all be over for him soon and he can become an unkown rich punk poser who used to be a famous artist, instead of just an asshole. Someone should really tell him to stop.

Anonymous said...

the work of zak smith provokes dialogue

frogger said...

oooo - the kitties come out with their sharp little claws! The work is obviously directed towards a specific audience, don't disregard it because of that. His Gravity's Rainbow series at the last Whitney Biennial was interesting. Guess I'm just turned off by the art-snob attitude against illustration or other supposedly "low" art forms. It's a tired position. I can see the appeal of his work, an update of Schiele seen through MTV and Suicide Girls, with Green Day playing in the background. It's genre art - does that make it less valid to it's audience? Is it all that different from the Dutch masters painting their pictures of oysters and flowers ad nauseum?

Anonymous said...

no it duzent

Anonymous said...

i think it should go like this:
i'm a rich punk poser with an incredibly unpleasant attitude and a sexist pig and i think my pen and ink illustrations of porn are RAD! and if you dont think so i will hide behind my punk hairdo and say you suck! but really i went to yale (where everyone hated me) so i have an inward attitude of superiority perfectly suited to my upper middle class!

this blog is a lynch mob said...

you all need to pick up a copy of the i ching

kelli said...

I was blown away by his show. It reminded me of all sorts of things that were illustrational in a good way: Pre-Raphaelite painting, Klimt. Not posting anonymously cause somebody has to have a pair and I told everybody I liked the show.

Anonymous said...

i have seen less bitterness and blame shifting at an NA meeting

Anonymous said...

Kelli,
I am even more excited to see your work now. I am really suprised that you would like this. I don't know you but have followed your comments on Corney's blog and you seem like a big time feminist. This guy seems to really have it out for women.

Quinacridone Violet said...

Hey Painter and other posters,

Is there any possibility we could revisit some of the earlier artists you chose before things really took off for the blog? There were some really great choices that would provoke interesting discussions. . .I love the choices from November 2005. Anyone interested in taking another crack at Bovasso, Ritchie, Yuskavage, Currin, Peyton, Siena, etc etc? I certainly would.

Anonymous said...

how does this guy seem to have it out for women? i don't like the work, but just because it's bad, not sexist. maybe he just really loves women, and isn't that bright? i mean give me a break, out for women? where were all the cries of sexist when will cotton post came up? i think his work is much more 'out for women' - and if people think posing them in fucking butterscotch is an indictment of male desire, than i say those people are easy marks. from this painting i can guess a few things, zak smith is a heterosexual, he is young and immature, and he is not the brightest artist in the scene. patricia highsmith has it out for women, not a pen and ink drawing of a topless girl.

Anonymous said...

wait a minute quia-- I'm trying to learn from others here. let the conversation proceed. Do we know who this painter has slept with? that might explain this painting!

Anonymous said...

well i would rather not. i think if any of those artists escaped the BRILLIANT DIALOGUE that this blog has become, they should feel lucky. what's the point of posting them, so that a bunch of anonymous posters can call them worthless pieces of shit? let them be, they don't deserve it. i mean this zak smith episode has all but called for someone to burn down his house and stick a knife in his balls.

Painter said...

Quinacridone Violet- I will revisit most of November artist at some point. I already have started to repost some of them.
Kelli- thanks for coming on as self.

Quinacridone Violet said...

Ha---yes, maybe we should just let them r.i.p., as it were.

My suggestion was that many of those artists have a longer track record, bibliography, etc, therefore more to discuss? I am REALLY b o r e d of the "does this young artist deserve his/her solo show or is she/he just a pile of poo" conversation. It seems like "young prodigies" are the artists that provoke the jealous personal attacks and juvenile crap that have usurped this blog, because there is often really not much interesting to say when the person has had one show. Or maybe that is just wishful thinking. . .

Quinacridone Violet said...

Painter---just saw your post, YAY!! Thanks, can't wait for those conversations.

Love your blog, thanks for putting up with all of us. . .

qv

Anonymous said...

can we got some hotornot software so we can just rank the paintings? I'd like some hard numbers and less talking.

Qloo said...

(Quinachro...)I also could revisit past stuff, things take off in fast time here....went to see Allison Fox, Essenheigh today...

Professor Mouth said...

I'm usually more interested in critiqueing the critique than talking about the painters here. But Zak Smith is really, truly, the most profoundly mediocre artist yet. I don't find anything particularly offensive about his paintings of women. To find them offensive would be to qualify them as interesting or provocative. They are neither. And I've got nothing against illustrational work. I spent the last year drawing a comic book, fer chrissakes. In fact, why not show some good illustrational work in the place of bad illustrational 'fine art'? Jack 'King' Kirby's drawings would put most of this shit to shame.

w.w. said...

i didn't like the last show because it was overhung and repetitive, not necessarily because of technique or content. then i reconsidered later because i think it would have been disingenuous in a way to edit them down and display them as if they are finished thoughts.

i think the MTV-filtered argument is valid - there's something really open and childish about them. they're nostalgic and goofy, like doodles - innocently dumb. i feel like they totally ride the line between affected/unaffected. at least this is the way the drawings come across; i've never met the artist.

It's basically the openness that i respond to - they look like shit but you get the feeling he's compelled to make them. like he's a horny 17 year old who can't help himself. i tend to sympathize.

Anonymous said...

Give it a rest WW.

phil donahue said...

shut up kelli...you're annoying

fairy butler said...

feeling a little guilty here for not being more charitable with my comments earlier... for me the whitney installation was more interesting than his last show. these portraits (of friends?) feel cliched - mostly because of the hit-you-over-the-head "I'm punk rock, man!" subject matter. The way they are made has potential, the drawing/collage thing but I wish there was more ambiguity. I see these - poser-punker-mtv nudes and I shut down - cannot enter into the looking so much.

fairy butler said...

so obvious it's painful kind of thing. but maybe it's just me....

Anonymous said...

i think they ARE sexist and i am going to argue why. they are softcore nudie pix of punk girls that in NO WAY challenge the assumptions or conventions of what conventional nudie pix might be. there is no critique, there is no attempt at critique, there is no evidence of someone trying to pry open the hetero conventionality and show it in a new way or with a self-consciousness about what is going on in this tired old tradition of the male gaze. for that reason they are profoundly conservative and sexist.

w.w. said...

gees, at least i spelled everything right.

fairy butler said...

12:00 anon - it's funny. i don't get mad at these for being sexist, although I think you are making some points. i just get bored with them.

Barbie said...

Men Suck. They do. They just think they can treat women like Shit and get away with it. I sure this guy and the guy before are real assholes. What the hell is wrong with them. Picasso was an ass too but at least he was a great artist. You shouldn't beable to be such an ass unless you are truly great and these guys aren't. Ego manic bastards. Get a clue.

Anonymous said...

it's geez, actually

fairy butler said...

ruh roh, am i one of the sucky men?

Anonymous said...

phil donahue you are annoying. Kelli and W.W. are the only one's here who aren't affraid of their own opinion.

w.w. said...

oh right - short for jezus. thanks.

hardly any of the images are even nudes. also, profoundly conservative and sexist is in fact a critique, just not a popular one.

Anonymous said...

Be AFFRAID be very AFFRAID!

trying said...

I guess what bothers me most is the lack of introspection. They seem self obsessed, but lack self knowledge. They don't seem touching or sensitive or thoughtful. maybe that is the point and why people hate them so much?

silent sapien said...

This work reminds me of Richard Kern's photos - and the resulting objectification arguments already lovingly elucidated upon. I agree this and Cotton's figurative work (among many others) is a bit problematic (I'd previously tried to post an idea about this subject) but I don't at all see it as hateful in any way, just emblematic of larger cultural trends.

Thoughtful lady said...

They are pretty cold. I think the "illustrational " style he has makes them feel a bit stiff and traditional...so if that is what people are referring to as typical objectifcation I see it. They are straight punk illustrated playboy shots.

Qloo said...

these are very highschool, adolecent. It's the "I'm learning how to draw " phase but can't make anything interesting except girls. I used to draw portraits of The Beatles and Sylvester Stallone, IN FIFTH grade! I consider those works of mine to be important in my path of learning m,asterful drawing, but there was really nothing interesting about them. These, to, have no interesting angle or slant or even aristic merit. They're very dull.

Anonymous said...

Yes, i agree gloo. I will add that we've spent too much time on him already....I hope his career in porn goes well for him.

Anonymous said...

what a bunch of moronic art school opinions, can't draw? like what?

Professor Mouth said...

Hey, why's everyone badmouthing objectification? I mean, sex itself wouldn't be possible without a measure of objectification. Crumb's big women transcend mysoginist fantasy because of the quality of the drawing... Those women are tactile, and have weight... they are HOT. Richard Kern isn't my favorite, but his best photos are HOT. Modigliani's nudes are pure, undiluted male gaze... and they're HOT. Tom of Finland is HOT.

If people want to criticize any of the above artists, they're fair game. But they at least operate on a visceral level, they WORK at something, well enough to present a credible threat. And although I'm a fan of Crumb, I'm not gonna blast feminists for demanding their pound of flesh.

But:
Zak Smith's paintings are not hot. They're just... nothin. There's no punk rock in his punk rock.

Qloo said...

well said, Mouth. As I said before, it's clear that he's interested in drawing, and his interests (girls, sex, drawing are there) but he is not doing anything clever or interesting with drawing, or, shapes-making something new-Yeah Crumb is making something NEW which is disturbing and sick and hot, but Zaks are boring, pithy not inventive and clever like Modigliani, etc. It's like the copying obsessive phase before something else is made. definately not Whitney worthy.

Anonymous said...

Crumb is new? Modigliani? WTF?

Professor Mouth said...

No one claimed Modigliani or Crumb were new. They just look a helluva lot fresher than Zak Smith. Hell, they're more punk rock, even if they never heard of Jello Biafra.

Qloo said...

never said they were new. good work is timeless.

Anonymous said...

I understand w.w.'s sympathies for the work- There is definitely something to be said for the investigation of adolescent lust and longing, and the electricity of teenage longing- if the work is up to snuff.

I think Smith's problem is that his work is kind of weak so we end up reading the work through his personality and public persona. Which is a shame, because apparently he's really rubbed some people here the wrong way. I mean, is he really that bad of a guy?

I feel a little bad for him, with all of the public nastiness. like, what if his parents read this? I don't now the guy, but is he really that much of a jerk to deserve the abuse? Or is it justified?

Anonymous said...

gloo, how old are you? i feel an ageist remark coming on. you sound very young and uneducated. "good work is timeless?" .... the "copying obsessive phase before something else is made?"

Anonymous said...

How old do you have to be before you are all grown up and no longer believe that good work is timeless?

Anonymous said...

I'm guessing Zak hasn't heard of Jello Biafra either.

Anonymous said...

i guess some of us are tired of the deification of the teenage boy. its so tired and old at this point, bad boyness, bad girlness, so boring. teenage angst of whatever, and what is this "longing". you mean only teenagers feel longing? lets move on.

pants down said...

as long as it is a valid human emotion the effort to describe it is not worthless. no one said only teenagers feel longing. it sounds like in an effort to give an intellectual critique many of you are missing the whole point of the work. these are not presented as masterpieces - they're presented as desperate. the attempt to impose an elevated critique is not appropriate. visual weakness has become a genre, look at daniel reich's artists as an example... a more superficial critique could be rewarding. but you will probably not want to engage in something so fun.

Professor Mouth said...

Sure sounds like fun.

Anonymous said...

pants, thanks for elevating this discussion, it is starting to get interesting. I don't think this blog does well in the morning.

Anonymous said...

i'd rather hang out with zak for an entire weekend than listen to anymore of professor mouths self satisified bullshit. we get it, you made a comic book! bravo! you like crumb! cool!

Anonymous said...

i'd fuck this painting

Anonymous said...

I feel longing

passeo said...

I liked passages from his Gravity's Rainbow illustrations. Some of the pieces show a ton on inventiveness and mastery of the medium. I don't see the problem with his Yale middle class history? Does it make him a poser? Faux-naif, Faux-punk rock? Not a genuine subcultural crossover? (Anyway, the feeling I get from the work is more like Yaz than Punk Rock) On the subject of education -- Flavor Flav was a classicaly trained pianist before forming public enemy -- didn't take away from the force of *his* music, did it? I think Zak's having a good time (hell, he gets to make his own porn films!), and that in itself is liberating and infectious, in a good way. That said -- is he really an asshole? That's a strong thing to say without offering any anecdotes.

Anonymous said...

Please don't start offering anecdotes of our bad behavior. Then this blog will really go down hill. We paint lets talk about that. This is not ment to be a gossip column.

Anonymous said...

further proof you should switch your name to snoozeo. you're like a fucking nyquil

Anonymous said...

please no anecdotes! just take his word for it, or not. no anecdotes!

Professor Mouth said...

Hey, 'Weekend with Zak' anonymous:

Listen to this!

BOIIINGGGGGGG!

Anonymous said...

Was this guy in the 2004 Whitney Biennial or is my memory tricking me or confusing him with some other smith?

Anonymous said...

passeo you are right about yale. i went there. did you? you seem real smart.

passeo said...

Point well taken. Didn't mean to cheapen this blog by
asking for anecdotes. I stand morally corrected.

Hey Anon that I bore so much -- Don't know why
yer so specifically angry at me. Just ignore me, and
I'll ignore your boring ass as well.

Anonymous said...

passeo just ignore Anon. he is from the middle class so angry with everyone

Anonymous said...

passeo i like it when you post. you have a lot of stuff in your head and it makes me think about things.

limpy said...

I can't ever jerk off to this thing...

SB said...

Yale? That's depressing.

He reminds me of a subordinate version of John John Jesse.

Anonymous said...

Does this poor fellow, Zack Smith, show anywhere in our fair city I could see some of his other work and maybe give him a fair shake?

passeo said...

Thanks anons! -- and no, didn't go to Yale.

Anonymous said...

is he really that much of a jerk to deserve the abuse? Or is it justified?
yes he's a jerk,

meanwhile i'm the one who said why i thought the work was sexist and yah i kind of agree w/ professor mouth in one way: (and one way only perhaps): if the work was kickass i'd probably like it anyway DESPITE its lame sexism. or maybe i'd forgive it.
HOWEVER I WOULDNT SAY IT ISNT SEXIST.
also: prof mouth, and anyone else: here is why i'd say crumb is NOT SEXIST. first of all he presents himself as full psychological range re the girls he draws, from total abjection to heroic or even sadistic, because there is a full spectrum of psychological stuff it reveals actual feeling, not just topping a girl w/ his gaze and pen. what is sexist in zak smith is the constant unchanging boring position that he and they take. also Crumb has the guts to make comics with his wife Aileen (spelling?) who is constantly challenging him (in print) about how lame and sexist and a pig he is, so he's clearly welcoming that discussion in. so not only is he a way more intersesting artist but he's basically not sexist at all.

Zak Smith said...

Hi, it’s Zak Smith. I was directed here by my friend Erin Weckerle. I just woke up after a 56-hour-no-sleep-drawing-marathon to finish up a piece for the armory show and now have nothing better to do than relax and talk art until I recuperate enough to do a painting, so let’s do this right, children...

punk illustrator-hater said...
“Oh dear God, no!”
Well, alright, fair enough. If you hate punks and you hate illustration (or work that is clearly influenced by illustration but distributed by the fine-art system) then you would probably hate my work. Fair enough. NEXT...

Anonymous said...
“This work looks too similar to ads for SVA on the subway.”
Maybe. I personally would argue that it isn’t at all if you see it in person, (paint texture, touch, blah blah blah...) but then again, I would, wouldn’t I? After all, I made it. I’d also argue that this particular painting—which is 3 years old—is a good deal less ambitious than the newer portraits.

Various Anonymouses said...
“totally embarrassing .... “
“kinda cute though. In a blue haired, tatoo sort of way.” [sic]
“HORRIBLE “
I will take this opportunity to say that comments which not only contain no actual argument but also emanate from sources which have no traceable point-of-view history (i.e. anonymous ones) are useful only in a popularity-contest sense. So, here are a few votes “for” and “against”. Who this data is useful to is beyond me.

joe strummer said...
“who tha 'ell's 'is bloke think he is?”

I do not know how to feel about the fact that one of the greatest musicians in history came back from the dead just to make an ambiguous comment on the internet about an old painting I did of my ex-girlfriend. Flattered, I guess...

fairy butler said...
“i don't even know where to start with this... “
Judging from cursory inspection of his/her blog, fairy butler:
-is obsessed with real-estate and...
-lives very close to me in Bushwick
Fairy, if you see me around, let’s talk—when you’re a successful artist nobody ever tells you they don’t like your work to your face. It’s weird, it’s disconcerting, and it warps your perspective on things. I’ll buy you lunch.

Anonymous said...
“A huge talent, the next Warhol. “
Let me now take this opportunity to vent my spleen at Andy Warhol. I dislike him for the standard comic-book-guy reasons like, say, he never introduces new images into the world, his pictures aren’t much to look at and he’s like Neon Rose or the other psychedelic poster folks of the ‘60s, only much less fun.

brainshred said...
“this is so fucking shallow-looks like precocious highschooler-the next warhol indeed or are you kidding- “
and
Anonymous said...
“i guess some of us are tired of the deification of the teenage boy. its so tired and old at this point, bad boyness, bad girlness, so boring. teenage angst of whatever, and what is this "longing". you mean only teenagers feel longing? lets move on.”

Shallow—well, I am interested in beauty above everything else. I take people who I think are beautiful, I try to make beautiful paintings of them so that the viewer can stand and look at them and experience the visceral sensation of beauty entering the mind through the sense of sight. Which is edifying, in my opinion. I am not a conceptual artist and I think conceptual art is for people who want to be thought of as intellectuals despite being unwilling to actually pick up a book. I think paintings should look good the way I think food should taste good. Meaning is the most interesting thing about a bad painting and the least interesting thing about a good one. When I want to change the world I don’t do it through art—I go out and do things.

Is appreciating a person because of how beautiful they are shallow?—quite possibly, but it is also an inalienable fact of life for nearly everyone. If I want something, and that desire informs real decisions in my real life for my entire life, than that desire is worthy of analysis.

or as pants down said...
“as long as it is a valid human emotion the effort to describe it is not worthless.”

Precocious highschooler—well, fair enough. I want the same things I wanted when I was in high school. If you don’t, be glad.

Anonymous said...
“What do we think of men drawing women like this, in this day and age?
It doesn't offend me it just seems out of style, And the attempt to use hip models just makes it worse.”
“Like this” “hip model”—she was my girlfriend and so this is probably the most cheesecakey portrait I ever did. I would never do a painting like this of someone with whom I did not actually have a sexual relationship with. This painting’s about real life—in real life my “hip”-looking girlfriend would have a 3-hour conversation with me in the kitchen sitting just like that and I remembered it and painted it. That’s life. If the heterosexual men in your life do not have the hot naked women they had the good fortune to be associated with renting space in their heads 16 hours a day, they are men of a kind I am not acquainted with.

Anonymous said...
“Anon What does this work have in common with Warhol?”
Excellent question. Though we both make awfully contrasty pictures and we both get a lot of argumentum ad hominem about our hair.

Anonymous said...
“not only an overhyped artist but a total punk asshole—“
Well this here is what we call an unsupported personal attack. What have I done to offend Anonymous? What sensibilities does Anonymous have that are offendable? Do I even know Anonymous or is this statement based solely on interviews, third-party reports and/or public descriptions of my behavior? No matter what I do, I cannot be less of a punk, but I might be able to become less of an asshole if only I knew what I was doing wrong. If only Anonymous were not anonymous...

JD said...
“Wow, I don't have much to add to the above comments. Except, I'm going to sleep now, curled up in a fetal position.”
JD’s blog won’t load, so I continue to have no idea what kind of person reacts to my art exactly the same way I react to Richard Serra’s.

Anonymous said...
“I'm a middle class punk rocker. Fierce!”

Other than the following matters of public record:

-I am now obviously doing all right because I am selling paintings for a living
-I managed to secure a loan to go to Yale for grad school after going to school for free at Cooper Union for four years

I really wonder on what grounds all this “middle class” business stands. I am not going to get into an authenticity contest with anybody here, but really, do you have any clue where I’m from or grew up or anything? Do you know how easy it is to get a full-tuition college loan if you’ve been gainfully employed during your entire college career?

Anonymous said...
worst artist to hit the blog yet. i don't understand how he got so far, it's good to know that it'll all be over for him soon and he can become an unkown rich punk poser who used to be a famous artist, instead of just an asshole. Someone should really tell him to stop.
“worst”—Hey, you’re entitled to your opinion.
“asshole”—see “unsupported personal attack” above.
“...all be over for him soon...”—It never ceases to surprise me how many people assume that just because an artist is not very good (in their opinion), it means they will have a short career. I suppose this means that Anonymous likes Julian Schnabel, Agnes Martin, Chuck Close, James Rosenquist, Francis Bacon and Jeff Koons—which I suppose is a testament to his/her open-mindedness.

Anonymous said...
“the work of zak smith provokes dialogue”
Which doesn’t mean it’s any good. I like it though.

frogger said...
“oooo - the kitties come out with their sharp little claws! The work is obviously directed towards a specific audience, don't disregard it because of that. His Gravity's Rainbow series at the last Whitney Biennial was interesting. Guess I'm just turned off by the art-snob attitude against illustration or other supposedly "low" art forms. It's a tired position. I can see the appeal of his work, an update of Schiele seen through MTV and Suicide Girls, with Green Day playing in the background. It's genre art - does that make it less valid to it's [sic] audience? Is it all that different from the Dutch masters painting their pictures of oysters and flowers ad nauseum?”
First, thanks.
“specific audience”—Well, it’s directed toward me, which I suppose you could call a “specific audience”.
I’m not much of a Green Day fan, (I’m much more of a Screeching Weasel and Sloppy Seconds guy as far as pop-punk goes) but that’s neither here nor there, I suppose.
“MTV”—MTV is to my parents’ generation what LSD was to their parents generation—when they see something they don’t recognize, they blame those three letters.

Anonymous said...
“i think it should go like this:
i'm a rich punk poser with an incredibly unpleasant attitude and a sexist pig and i think my pen and ink illustrations of porn are RAD! and if you dont think so i will hide behind my punk hairdo and say you suck! but really i went to yale (where everyone hated me) so i have an inward attitude of superiority perfectly suited to my upper middle class!”

“Rich”—Last year I made 25,000 dollars. Which makes me way rich by the standards of my friends but is about the median US income. Whatever I haven’t spent on food and paint and helping other artists is going to Food Not Bombs when I die.
“poser”—Are there any grounds upon which to say I do not actually likeand make punk rock music? Or that I don’t actually like hot punk chicks? Or that I am not actually a painter? Who are you, Anonymous? What is this?
“unpleasant attitude”—I’m gonna stop flagging the unsupported personal attacks as of now, because there are a lot of them, but still, I noticed.
“superiority...yale”—The fact that I went to Yale is not grounds for feelings of superiority. I went there so I wouldn’t have to work in a warehouse or Taco Bell ever again and it worked. I personally feel that some of the stupidest, least-talented and most morally bankrupt people I’ve ever met have an MFA from Yale so I don’t hold it as a source of pride in any way. Getting into and then out of a major art grad program is all a matter of luck.
“sexist”—well I like to have sex with attractive women. I personally don’t think this is a sexist position. Probably the people to ask about this would be militant feminists who also modeled for me like Jennifer LeClaire and Charlie.
“pen and ink illustrations of porn”-when have I ever done that?

this blog is a lynch mob said...
“you all need to pick up a copy of the i ching”
I’m not sure this is good advice—in addition to the fact that nearly every one of the hexagrams in the I Ching is interpreted as meaning “stay the course, persevere”, my mom got married to my dad because she rolled up “marrying maiden”—and man, those two really should never have gotten married—especially in the opinion of all these people who don’t like me.

kelli said...
“I was blown away by his show. It reminded me of all sorts of things that were illustrational in a good way: Pre-Raphaelite painting, Klimt. Not posting anonymously cause somebody has to have a pair and I told everybody I liked the show. “
Thank you, Kelli.

Anonymous said...
Kelli,
”I am even more excited to see your work now. I am really suprised that you would like this. I don't know you but have followed your comments on Corney's blog and you seem like a big time feminist. This guy seems to really have it out for women.”
I believe the phrase is “have it in for women” but anyway, re:feminism, see above.

Anonymous said...
“how does this guy seem to have it out for women? i don't like the work, but just because it's bad, not sexist. maybe he just really loves women, and isn't that bright? i mean give me a break, out for women? where were all the cries of sexist when will cotton post came up? i think his work is much more 'out for women' - and if people think posing them in fucking butterscotch is an indictment of male desire, than i say those people are easy marks. from this painting i can guess a few things, zak smith is a heterosexual, he is young and immature, and he is not the brightest artist in the scene. patricia highsmith has it out for women, not a pen and ink drawing of a topless girl.”
Ok, so I’m not so bright? That’s really not my call, is it? But I suppose this opinion is based on the fact that my work is not very conceptually sophisticated. That’s intentional. The Ramones weren’t either. Also, I don’t draw on graph paper or create work with debatable mystery content designed for people who need visual aids in order to think for themselves. That’s also intentional. I also don’t take thought-provoking phenomena from outside the world of art and re-present it in a gallery with a wall-text for people who are too stupid to think about it when it’s out in the real world. That is also intentional. As several of the greatest novelists of the past century have proved, it IS possible to be smart and obsessed with sex at the same time.

Someone said:
”....because there is often really not much interesting to say when the person has had one show. Or maybe that is just wishful thinking. . . “
This person said a bunch of level-headed things which I accidentally deleted before this. Anyway, I just had my 3rd solo show in NYC.

Professor Mouth said...
“I'm usually more interested in critiqueing the critique than talking about the painters here. But Zak Smith is really, truly, the most profoundly mediocre artist yet. I don't find anything particularly offensive about his paintings of women. To find them offensive would be to qualify them as interesting or provocative. They are neither. And I've got nothing against illustrational work. I spent the last year drawing a comic book, fer chrissakes. In fact, why not show some good illustrational work in the place of bad illustrational 'fine art'? Jack 'King' Kirby's drawings would put most of this shit to shame.”
I tried to get my gallery to show Bill Sienkiewicz. I am a big fan of good illustration. I’d like to know exactly what it is about my work that PM finds “mediocre”. But he doesn;t say—too bad....

w.w. said...
“i didn't like the last show because it was overhung and repetitive, not necessarily because of technique or content. then i reconsidered later because i think it would have been disingenuous in a way to edit them down and display them as if they are finished thoughts.

i think the MTV-filtered argument is valid - there's something really open and childish about them. they're nostalgic and goofy, like doodles - innocently dumb. i feel like they totally ride the line between affected/unaffected. at least this is the way the drawings come across; i've never met the artist.

It's basically the openness that i respond to - they look like shit but you get the feeling he's compelled to make them. like he's a horny 17 year old who can't help himself. i tend to sympathize.”
“look like shit”—IN WHAT WAY? Really, people, sharpen those descriptive skills... This is getting frustrating. Is it the consistency of the line quality, the accuracy or inaccuracy of the drawing? The handling of light and shadow? The intensity of the color? The compositions? If you don’t tell me what I did wrong, who will?

fairy butler said...
“feeling a little guilty here for not being more charitable with my comments earlier... for me the whitney installation was more interesting than his last show. these portraits (of friends?) feel cliched - mostly because of the hit-you-over-the-head "I'm punk rock, man!" subject matter. The way they are made has potential, the drawing/collage thing but I wish there was more ambiguity. I see these - poser-punker-mtv nudes and I shut down - cannot enter into the looking so much.”
“of friends?”--Yes
“drawing/collage”—There’s no collage in any of the portraits. I’m tempted to add that this is an argument for you having not looked to terribly carefully at the pictures or the wall labels but, really, I don’t look closely at pictures I don’t like either.
“hitting over the head...punk”—Well, I paint my friends. I’m sorry that the fact that my friends exist and I think they are attractive strikes you as an argument that I’m so punk rock.

Anonymous said...
“i think they ARE sexist and i am going to argue why. they are softcore nudie pix of punk girls that in NO WAY challenge the assumptions or conventions of what conventional nudie pix might be. there is no critique, there is no attempt at critique, there is no evidence of someone trying to pry open the hetero conventionality and show it in a new way or with a self-consciousness about what is going on in this tired old tradition of the male gaze. for that reason they are profoundly conservative and sexist.”
Thoughtful lady said...
“They are pretty cold. I think the "illustrational " style he has makes them feel a bit stiff and traditional...so if that is what people are referring to as typical objectifcation I see it. They are straight punk illustrated playboy shots.”
silent sapien said...
“This work reminds me of Richard Kern's photos - and the resulting objectification arguments already lovingly elucidated upon. I agree this and Cotton's figurative work (among many others) is a bit problematic (I'd previously tried to post an idea about this subject) but I don't at all see it as hateful in any way, just emblematic of larger cultural trends.”


I have a male gaze, I am male. Whether you or for or against it, information about the sexually charged way men look at women is culturally useful for people on any side of that debate.
Well, I cannot say whether I am successful in my intentions, but I spelled them out pretty clearly in this interview I did once for SuicideGirls—
CS: In Naked Girls the models are often shown at home, in various stages of dress, but they aren't nearly as sexualized as they often are required by their various avocations- the theme of the sex industry and the Girls in the Naked Girl Business is present but not explicit in the images themselves. Why?

Smith: Well, out in the world there are two traditions: pin-up
pictures--which are traditionally about making the person look hot and
are usually all about this fantasy that the hot person is looking
right at you and waiting for you to fuck them, and then there are
portraits, which are traditionally about telling you something about
the way that person's mind works in real life and what the world is
like from their point of view. I guess in the portraits the idea is to
try to do both, to say 'look, there's this real person walking around
all day, doing their laundry, eating cheerios, thinking things and
being way hot' because that's what life is like, really--some
waitress will look at you because she wants to know if you want soup
or salad and you're thinking about her cleavage and any honest
reflection of the situation would have to be equally concerned with
the soup, the salad, the cleavage, the pencil behind her ear, the guy
behind the counter who fucked her on the table after closing last
night, the fact that she's worried she'll lose her job if anybody
finds out, the boss who'd never fire her because he wants to fuck her
too, the waitress' little sister who's going to have to drop out of
school if the waitress gets fired, blah blah blah. I guess the idea is
that sex is great, but it's also mixed up with all the boring things
in life.

Barbie said...
“Men Suck. They do. They just think they can treat women like Shit and get away with it. I sure this guy and the guy before are real assholes. What the hell is wrong with them. Picasso was an ass too but at least he was a great artist. You shouldn't beable to be such an ass unless you are truly great and these guys aren't. Ego manic bastards. Get a clue.”
I should also mention that my subjects are people who VOLUNTEER to be in these paintings. I try to be a great artist and NOT an asshole. If there is any anecdotal evidence Barbie has at her disposal concerning me treating any woman like shit, I’d like to hear it. If Barbie would like, I can supply her with the e-mail addresses of the girls I’ve painted and she can ask them if they consider a visual tribute to their attractiveness to one particular young male a form of assault.

trying said...
“I guess what bothers me most is the lack of introspection. They seem self obsessed, but lack self knowledge. They don't seem touching or sensitive or thoughtful. maybe that is the point and why people hate them so much?”
Maybe—I’d like to hear anyone’s thoughts on what the visual signifiers of self-awareness might be? A lot of brown? Little words floating around people’s heads? Describing how the way things contributes to the ideas they suggest is an essential skill in art criticism.

Qloo said...
“these are very highschool, adolecent. It's the "I'm learning how to draw " phase but can't make anything interesting except girls. I used to draw portraits of The Beatles and Sylvester Stallone, IN FIFTH grade! I consider those works of mine to be important in my path of learning masterful drawing, but there was really nothing interesting about them. These, to, have no interesting angle or slant or even aristic merit. They're very dull.”
If Qloo can make “masterful” drawings, I’d like to see them—there’s a shortage of people who can draw in this world.
There’s nothing more interesting than girls. I will defend this position to the death.

Anonymous said...
“Yes, i agree gloo. I will add that we've spent too much time on him already....I hope his career in porn goes well for him.”
Me too, of course. I should note that (as far as I know) the only place my career as a porn actor has been reported on is the pornography-news website Fleshbot, which means that Anonymous is probably with me on this whole “girls are interesting” thing whether or not she/he admits it.

Anonymous said...
“what a bunch of moronic art school opinions, can't draw? like what?”
Thanks! I mean, really, even people who hate me usually admit I can draw.

Professor Mouth said...
“Hey, why's everyone badmouthing objectification? I mean, sex itself wouldn't be possible without a measure of objectification. Crumb's big women transcend mysoginist fantasy because of the quality of the drawing... Those women are tactile, and have weight... they are HOT. Richard Kern isn't my favorite, but his best photos are HOT. Modigliani's nudes are pure, undiluted male gaze... and they're HOT. Tom of Finland is HOT.

If people want to criticize any of the above artists, they're fair game. But they at least operate on a visceral level, they WORK at something, well enough to present a credible threat. And although I'm a fan of Crumb, I'm not gonna blast feminists for demanding their pound of flesh.
But:
Zak Smith's paintings are not hot. They're just... nothin. There's no punk rock in his punk rock.”
The portraits are not meant to be sexually arousing—they are meant to record the way sexually desirable people are seen in real-life-not-necessarily-sexual-situations. The girl/octopus paintings ARE meant to be sexy. What any of this has to do with punk rock is not made clear in PM’s post...

Qloo said...
“well said, Mouth. As I said before, it's clear that he's interested in drawing, and his interests (girls, sex, drawing are there) but he is not doing anything clever or interesting with drawing, or, shapes-making something new-Yeah Crumb is making something NEW which is disturbing and sick and hot, but Zaks are boring, pithy not inventive and clever like Modigliani, etc. It's like the copying obsessive phase before something else is made. definately not Whitney worthy.”
I’m getting tired. All of this is just an I-don’t-like-tomatoes-therefore-tomatoes-suck argument anyway. I think I make new shapes, but then, I would, wouldn’t I?

Anonymous said...
“I understand w.w.'s sympathies for the work- There is definitely something to be said for the investigation of adolescent lust and longing, and the electricity of teenage longing- if the work is up to snuff.

I think Smith's problem is that his work is kind of weak so we end up reading the work through his personality and public persona. Which is a shame, because apparently he's really rubbed some people here the wrong way. I mean, is he really that bad of a guy?

I feel a little bad for him, with all of the public nastiness. like, what if his parents read this? I don't now the guy, but is he really that much of a jerk to deserve the abuse? Or is it justified?”
What I wonder about is—What public persona? It seems like all you guys are reading all kinds of gossip rags with me in them that I’ve never heard about.

Anonymous said...
“I'm guessing Zak hasn't heard of Jello Biafra either.”
And why might that be? Because the Dead Kennedys never wrote love songs?

pants down says...
“the attempt to impose an elevated critique is not appropriate. visual weakness has become a genre, look at daniel reich's artists as an example... a more superficial critique could be rewarding. but you will probably not want to engage in something so fun.”
Again, people attacking this work on visual grounds seem to provide no concrete descriptions of their issues with it. Which means even if I agreed, I’d never know how to improve my work based on what they say...

passeo said...
“I liked passages from his Gravity's Rainbow illustrations. Some of the pieces show a ton on inventiveness and mastery of the medium. I don't see the problem with his Yale middle class history? Does it make him a poser? Faux-naif, Faux-punk rock? Not a genuine subcultural crossover? (Anyway, the feeling I get from the work is more like Yaz than Punk Rock) On the subject of education -- Flavor Flav was a classicaly trained pianist before forming public enemy -- didn't take away from the force of *his* music, did it? I think Zak's having a good time (hell, he gets to make his own porn films!), and that in itself is liberating and infectious, in a good way. That said -- is he really an asshole? That's a strong thing to say without offering any anecdotes.”
Thanks.

Anonymous said...
“Please don't start offering anecdotes of our bad behavior. Then this blog will really go down hill. We paint lets talk about that. This is not ment to be a gossip column.”
I for one, would like to hear accounts of my bad behavior—I have no idea what these people are on about.

Oh, and anyone who would like to actually SEE the body of work that all these people are allegedly commenting on may go to www.zaxart.com

Zak Smith said...

Typo!
above, the end of the response to "trying" should read--"Describing how the way things look contributes to the ideas they suggest is an essential skill in art criticism."

passeo said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
tired of reading said...

are you a Scorpio Zak?

passeo said...

Why did zak smith repost the entire page up to 5:41? For the record, passeo was corrected and no longer wants to read any anecdotes.

Zak Smith said...

I didn't just repost the whole thing, I reposted mmost of the comments with my responses to them.

bleat said...

why don't you all go to Sudan.this is like groundhog day the sequel.

passeo said...

Oh! got it.

concerned citizen said...

there's a 'Groundhog Day II'?

Professor Mouth said...

So, Zak, your art is about depicting attractive people in not-necessarily-sexual-situations.

An interesting concept. So interesting, I think I'll steal it, and make a few of my own.

I'll...call..them......'Portraits'.

And no, I don't think you can draw very well. Or rather, I don't think you DO draw very well. You probably have the potential to. I mean, you definitely cover the entire canvas. So, good job. And they definitely took more than fifteen minutes to make. Again, kudos. I could go on about how oppressively crowded they are, or the undifferentiated line quality, or how fussy and self-consciously overdrawn they are, or the seeming lack of improvisation and imaginative manipulation/reconstruction of the subjects, or the fact that I can't find anything conceptually compelling about them. But you can parse my words ad infinitum and claim I'm being obscure. I'm not proud of not liking your work. I just don't. Should I apologize?

Love that last sentence in your mega-post, with its implication that everyone who dislikes the work just hasn't bothered to LOOK at it. Perhaps some people look, don't like, look again, think for a while, and still don't like it? Inconceivable, I know.

But I promise I'll be just as vocal if I change my mind or if your future work persuades me.

Zak Smith said...

Fair enough. That post was clear and articulate, even if I don't agree with it. That's ggod enough for me.

Obviously, I'm a big fan of "crowded".

death mcsexy said...

Dear Zak,
It doesn't look like there's any girl-on-girl in your movie. What's up with that?

Zak Smith said...

Hey, I like girl-on-girl as much as the next guy, but I didn't write it or direct it, I just "acted".

sb said...

Zak, good for you for coming on here and inserting yourself into the lion's den. I don't know if I could have done that. It's hard enough trying to make art, much less defend it and support yourself off it. Kudos.

passeo said...

Bill Sienkiewicz rocks! Reminds me of my childhood! And of course Jack Kirby is the king of the line, which strikes a delicate balance between indexical and mimetic mark. The Kirchner of comix. Actually, I like Kirby better than Kirchner.

Zak Smith said...

Well I see it like this: If I had some artist I hated, like Marcel Duchamp, right where I could talk to him and he was in the mood to answer my questions honestly then I could ask him all kinds of questions that nobody who usually talks to him--i.e. his fans and friends--would never ask. And so he'd be forced to think about new things and I'd get to know what makes my enemy tick.

So everybody wins.

Plus I'm too tired to work for at least another hour.

Zak Smith said...

Fuck, another typo:
"would "ever" ask.

I'd be intersted to know if Sienkiewicz fans think my work is too much like his.

Zak Smith said...

"interested" i mean

I should type slower.

passeo said...

Zach, to be candid, yes, I felt the language to be remarkably similar to Sienkiewicz, even though I didn't think to make the connection (until I read the blog today). To what degree, I can't really say, because It's probably been a decade or more since haven't looked at Sienkiewicz. I do believe that your manipulation of color pools in the more abstact passages of the pynchon piece offers a departure from Sienkiewicz. That's where I found the most excitement.

The irony is that it is because of Duchamp that thru warhol, that high and low can intermingle. I think that Duchamp has in some way, made your medium possible.

Zak Smith said...

Of course you're right that people like Duchamp and Warhol made it possible to sell work like mine in a fine arts context. That doesn't mean that I enjoy the experience of looking at their work, which is what it's all about, in my opinion.

Art can be historically important without being interesting to a given viewer. For example, I'm sure the first Persian miniature painter was total shit but without that person we'd never have Bihzad.

As for Bill S.--well, my only defense is that I would hope that, in person and close-up, my work looks substasntially less like him than at first glance--but that's your call, not mine.

While I'm at it, I'll go into a little more detail on Prof M's comments

-Portraits--well, yeah, I'm not claiming that I invented a new genre--see the whole Suicidegirls interview quote above.

-overdrawn--yeah, I like overdrawn, overworked--I like Gravity's Rainbow which is the most overwritten novel in the world, ok.

-lack of improv or manipulation--well, that's intentional--in the portraits I want to reconstruct in some ways the reality of situations that actually occurred, not tell you what to think about people. I am a big fan of photographers like Robert Frank and Gary Winogrand--I like to emnphasize certain facts about reality rather than editorialize on it.

-not conceptually compelling--again--Meaning is the most interesting thing about bad art and the least interesting thing about good art.

--PM's general tone. Is awfully aggressive. It's ok man, I don't bite. I promise.

--posting my site. I didn't mean to imply people hadn't seen my stuff, it was just that one person actually asked where s/he could see more work, so I thought I'd make it easy.

Anonymous said...

I have never heard of Zak Smith before finding this blog today but I am going to try and buy one of his paintings tomorrow based on his passion for his painting alone.

passeo said...

BTW-- does anyone see a Kirby-Sasnal connection, or is it just me? (Sasnal is still doing the newspaper comix on the side, no?)

Zak Smith said...

Not I.

passeo said...

Oh well it could be just me. Thanx for the exchange, zak, and I do agree with sb. That's pretty punk-rock of you. Time to sign off and get some work done.

Painter said...

Hi Zak,
Thanks for coming on.

Zak Smith said...

Well if artists don't talk then critics talk for them, and then we'll keep getting a bunch of art that looks like shit but is easy to talk about.

Anonymous (12:26 PM) said...

I just finished looking at the 760 drawings Zak made for Gravity's Rainbow

A few I liked (numbers correspond to the picture pages)
paint tubes: 130
shoes: 199 / 688 / 736
two figures: 274
typewriter: 353
music score: 440
light fixture: 455
bunny: 592
figure: 730

Great stuff Zak!

Anonymous said...

addendum to the post I made above on the Gravity Rainbow drawings. I didn't mean I just liked a few, a few was all I could post.

As I alluded to earlier, the drawing is very strong, varied, fantastic composition, light and darks, line weights, variety of hatching or shading, witty and inventive. There are so many drawings just in this one set that comparison to other artists is inevitable just by chance, I don't think it matters. cool stuff

Zak Smith said...

To be fair, i can't take credit entirely for the "bunny" one--the piece is page-for-page illustrations for the book and that page refers to a George Petty calendar--so the picture of the girl in the bunny suit on the calendar is just a copy of my favorite George Petty painting. The rest of the picture is mine, of course....

Anonymous said...

I thought it was something like that, pushpinned up and all, it's why I picked it, it was funny

hello said...

but Robert frank's work is so emotional and at times heartbreaking. it sounds like you take the internal turmoil out and go with a more superficial gaze. robert frank's work is autobiographical, but very internal. Maybe you take the love out, but keep the lust? I know you said that this portrait is of your girlfriend. I don't get a sense of her thoughts. Just a sense of how you see her because the the illustrational way in which you draw. the background doesn't tell me about her. Which is your point I guess if you are just drawing what turns you on. I guess that is what bothers me. also, regarding will Cotton, his fantasy world is all encompassing. Everything that he draws is sexy, not just the ladies. It is easier to believe and join into his lust.

erik parker said...

Hey Zak,

Wow good job with talking to these busters!
bravo!!!

egyptian violet said...

Hi Quinacridone Violet! I am your Auntie...Egyptian Violet.

Anonymous said...

Zak- I miss the performances and the disregard for archival materials. Look what Yale did to us...it fucked us up.

Zak Smith said...

Anonymous 7:19--
re:
"Yale fucked us up"
There's nothng I want to do in art that i'm not doing right now. How weak-minded are you that you don't do what you want because you went to some school?

Eric Parker--Thanks.

Hello--These portraits are supposed to be pleasurable to look at because of the way they are rendered--not necessarily sexy or emotionally expressive in any way. I've said this more than once in these responses already.

If there is an emotional expression in my work it probably comes out most in the slavish attention to detail. This represents a certain kind of devotion and perhaps that devotion implies certain feelings--but again, I am not an expressionist.

Gary Winogrand is a great photographer, but he doesn't hit you over the head with how he feels about his subjects--he just lets the uniqueness of the way they appear in the physical world speak for itself.

Anonymous said...

Zak when do you sleep?
I saw you in that porn you are very sexy.

kelli said...

I don't see why many of these arguments couldn't be made against Tom of Finland. Talk about the male gaze perplexes me because virtually all significant or radical Western art was made by gay not straight men so I'm not sure that the tradition is what we think it is or that this work fits into it in a predictable way. Personally I always felt the tenured, family man WASP's who turned out anodyne work & taught me at Yale were "outsider" artists with less claim on tradition than they thought.

Anonymous said...

No matter how much spin, this annonomous poster/poser still thinks it looks like an illustration for Spin.

Zak Smith said...

You should tell us whether you've ever seen any of ths work in person so we can decide how relevant this opinion is.

Anonymous said...

This makes no sense. Zak, just let the blog organically happen. By interfering with a 'process' you are showing control and power. Relax, go have fun. Lighten up.

Dave Miko said...

Z S,

I like that you replied to all of this, but discourse in art is, in my opinion, futile.
I like to think of art as a monologue.

jpeg critics are strange animals.

but then again i am mold fashioned.

Zak Smith said...

Again, if artists don't talk then critics talk for them, and then we'll keep getting a bunch of art that looks like shit but is easy to talk about.


Oh, and hey Dave, how's life? They loved you, did you see?

the canon said...

what's up bitchez! don't waste your time hatin', because I make all the final decisions around here. Yeah, I just let Chris Ofili in da club - jealous? Hey, he's money. Zak Smith? I'll get back to you in 10-15 years...
word to all the mutha's and the baby daddies...

C

Anonymous said...

Canon,
Who all is in the club so far?

Anonymous said...

Hooray the Canon!
I love the Canon, Professor Mouth, W.W. and Mountain Man.
What ever happened to Burrito Brother and Hey Mayberry?
And of course Painter the silent beauty.

Anonymous said...

Zak, you're totally right about the importance of artists speaking up for their work. It is really, really appreciated.

Anonymous said...

Zak, you're totally right about the importance of artists speaking up for their work. It is really, really appreciated.

Anonymous said...

peter max...

brad p said...

i miss you miko

Anonymous said...

Zak,
You have inspired the artist to come on as selves. That is cool.

Anonymous said...

zak, You are a true samuri artist. A Paladin. You walk the line right into the ring of fire just like the man in black himself. I love it. Keep on painting, painter.

Art Soldier said...

zak:

You should start a blog; you're a blogospheric natural and have already greatly improved on the sometimes disappointing tone of this comment board.

I don't agree with your repeated assertion that "meaning is the most interesting thing about bad art and the least interesting thing about good art" -- but maybe it's a semantic distinction about what you consider to be 'meaning' (or a reaction against bad art that disguises itself as conceptual innovation). I would assert that great art is an amalgam of aesthetic form and idea, and that this is where artistic meaning is derived.

When human truth is embodied in the formal qualities of art, it creates an emphatic connection between work and viewer that enables comprehension -- which leads to a discussion of 'meaning'. I think you're right when you imply that this (empathy) remains a possibility in your work with your stated intention of creating a relationship between the beauty of the subject (in your case, nude girls) and the compelling beauty of aesthetic form.

The connection is broken when either (a) the viewer can't connect with the form (maybe they don't like punk-illustration or find it inadequately original or formally competent as such); or (b) the viewer can't relate to the subject. While the male gaze is something that admittedly exists and is worthy of discussion, there's a long history of the male gaze in art as an obvious signifier of male oppression of women. When females on this thread respond negatively to your depictions of women, it is probably because they are associating your work with this historical tradition -- regardless of your real-world interactions with women or self-described positive intentions.

I'd offer a more specific critique of your individual works, but haven't seen your paintings in person and don't want to be indicted as a jpeg-critic by d.m. moldy-man.

Thanks for joining in the dialogue.

larry gagosian said...

now if only zak had a good gallery

Anonymous said...

Paladin is right. Have paint. Will travel. Wire San Francisco.

Edna said...

weird. i don't see these drawings as sexist. i'd rather look at these than su-en wong or will cotton.

Professor Mouth said...

Well, no one will hear me argue for Will Cotton, that's for sure. But is not-sexist the same thing as good? I still say that Zak Smith isn't much of an artist. More like a haircut with a work ethic.

Zak Smith said...

I thought it would be obvious but I guess it's not--any ad hominem about my haircut is not really relevant to the quality of my work.

mountain man said...

Wow. This thread is intense. I am late to the game this week and everything I now think about this image has been enhanced/tainted/informed by what I've read. Zak, I am totally impressed and kind of enamored of the fact that you've come on to talk. I don't think it's controlling, just being a part of the conversation about your work. Ballsy & inspiring. I loved the Whitney Gravity's Rainbow drawings - the epic nature of the project reeled me in due to personal bias. The last show was harder for me to penetrate but I am willing and want to look again.

The best part of this blog, for me, is seeing things from another point of view, being open to a new take. Many valid points are made on both sides. This work for sure is less dismebodied than it might have been upon first jpeg glance.

Anonymous said...

Professor Mouth,

You are obviously a formidable and thoughtful writer. Please explain what defines for you the position of 'artist'. This is not a challenge or attack. I just want' more insight.

Tic Tac said...

What kind of haircut do you have Zak? Can you post a picture?

Professor Mouth said...

'I thought it would be obvious but I guess it's not--any ad hominem about my haircut is not really relevant to the quality of my work.'

I wasn't attacking your haircut. I was commenting on the vacuum beneath it. And my comment wasn't meant to be relevant, it was meant to be funny at your expense. ad hominem ad shmominum.

And as for anonymous' question about how I define what constitutes an 'artist'? Well, I'm not quite silly enough to write a definition for something so slippery. No, I think I'll avoid that paticular Malaysian bamboo tiger trap.

I do think that real artistry has something to do with risk and self-criticality, though. Even though I think Pollock was a hugely overrated dick, I think he was an artist. When he died, he was busy overturning all the tropes that had gained him acclaim, and making pretty bad paintings in the process. But he was searching, and I admire that. Guston was an artist. It's not a style thing, it's not an abstract versus figurative thing, it's not a formal versus conceptual thing. All those dichotomies are false anyway.

With ZS, I just see a guy who's propelled by the market. Dealers and collectors must love him: His stuff all looks similar(a less virtuosic Bill Sienkiewicz, who is himself slightly less virtuosic than Dave McKean), and he makes shitloads of them. As far as the market goes, what's not to love?

When I look at a neat piece of art, it's always a mixture of repulsion and attraction, and I just barely make the leap into believing in the work. That's the fun. In a lot of good work, there will be a passage of grace, but for every one of those, there's a moment where you think the artist may have just jumped the shark. When I first saw Albert Oehlen's paintings, I didn't think much of them. But I kept going back to them, wrestling with them. And after a couple of years of wrestling with them, I realized I loved them. Otherwise, I wouldn't have bothered.

But lest someone starts thinking I secretly love Zak Smith's work, I'm leaving this thread now and not coming back. Cheers.

Anonymous said...

Mouth: Thanks for the inshite. I now know you secretly love Zachs work. And Oehlen (but what's not to love about Oehlen?? His paintings look great, even in reproduction!

Zak Smith said...

Professor Mouth--
his work is easily track-downable. Click on the link at his name.

While we are both intersted in comics and painting, judging from our work we otherwise couldn't be more different. He is intersted in loose, curved, one-might-say-expressive, linework and open space. He is probably into Cy Twombly and Will Eisner-two of my least favorite artists. I am intersted in the exact opposite--tight, rectilinear, one-might-say-precise linework and densely cluttered space.
We have different tastes.
So the fact that we do not like each others work is no more remarkable or interesting than the fact that a vegan and a tiger find themselves unable to agree on a restaurant.

I would also submit that his aesthetic tastes are so far from mine that any "risks" I might be taking or "virtuousity" I might possess are employed in such a radically different visual arena than the one he's used to working in and enjoying that he simply can't see them.

And the same goes for me--I can't see what he's trying to do in his drawings--but I also can't tell one red wine from the next. I'm not a wine guy.

I don't take the fact that he likes veggies and I like steak as a sign that he's an idiot--I wish he'd have the courtesy to do the same.

Also re: all my work looking similar to PM. This is again probably a function of PM's distance from my aesthetic concerns--the abstract paintings like "welcome Back To Fucked" are miles different than, for example, the work that is posted at the top of all these comments.

Zak Smith said...

clearly I have some sorta typing impediment where I write "intersted" instead of "interested"--sorry

Anonymous said...

I still think he has a crush on you Zak. and Oehlen reminds him of Doc Oc.

Anonymous said...

i think a painting called 'the painting that is fun to look at' immediately conveys you into the realm of a haircut with a work ethic. i mean could you be more blushingly earnest and empty headed?

Zak mith said...

Earnest does not equal empty-headed.

In my opinion, the painting is fun to look at. It's a memorable title.

I title the abstract paintings in memorable ways because it makes it more likely that people will discuss them--since they usually get overlooked in favor of the girl pictures which are easier for inarticulate people to talk about.

Clearly, this tactic worked, as we are now discussing--or almost discussing--that particular abstract painting.

Anonymous said...

And also, anonymous poster, in case they never taught you this in school, the title of a work has nothing to do with the quality of the work itself.

Anonymous said...

zak, you are the single most patient man in brooklyn

Anonymous said...

i just want to get laid by one of zaks ex girlfriends. i bet they'd do filthy shit

Zak Smith said...

I could e-mail you some phone numbers, I'm sure...

Oh fuck, you're anonymous, oh well...

Anonymous said...

hey if you're for real i'll giv you my email address

Ursula's Dad said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
MB said...

Not so fast Larry.

Anonymous said...

Yay MM is back.

boo monkey said...

i dont like zak smith's work and his gazillion-word answers by now dont seem ballsy, the just seem egotistic. you gotta stop talking about yourself now zs.
but i LOVE professor mouth.

Zak Smith said...

I am not here to seem ballsy, I am here because comments like "I don't like Zak Smith's work" or "I do like Zak Smith's" work are useless and interesting to no-one--but apparently if I sit near my computer when I draw and then occasionally demand actual articulate homo-sapien-like explanations of people's opinions then sometimes I get them, and you get them, and that's a good thing.

Anonymous said...

I love PM too

new and so far unheard anonymous said...

the point of a blog in my opin ion is for people to say what they want, their opinion.
opinions are valid and interesting no matter how simple or anonymous they are.
get a grip man.
"boo hoo people think things about me that aren't what i think, this is just like mom and dad, fuck everyone"
your work sucks is as valid as any other thing said here.

Anonymous said...

oh oh oh last word

Anonymous said...

ooooh ooooh oooooh oooooh oooooh last wooooooooooooord.

Zak Smith said...

"opinions are valid and interesting no matter how simple or anonymous they are."

Valid, certainly, interesting is debatable.

Again...like I said before:

comments which not only contain no actual argument but also emanate from sources which have no traceable point-of-view history (i.e. anonymous ones) are useful only in a popularity-contest sense. So, here are a few votes “for” and “against”. Who this data is useful to is beyond me.

as for:
"boo hoo people think things about me that aren't what i think, this is just like mom and dad, fuck everyone"

This statement does not remotely resemble anything I've said here (or ever)--

What I'm laying down is this Kindergarten truth:

The fact that the colors and shapes an artist makes for a living is not the same as the set of colors and shapes an amateur critic likes to consume is NOT an indicator that the artist in question is unintelligent, morally suspect, or immature.

Anonymous said...

damn, new anonymous, you got served

Anonymous said...

Yes zak, art is just a big buffet with all sorts of fun flavors, rational judgement and experience be damned. Art is just like cuisine! And here we sit at the big buffet, and your art is the steamtray with the weird nuggets that look like they'll taste like afterbirth wrapped in cotton candy that a child-molesting dwarf pooped on. Except when you take a bite it lets out a sad whine... it's filled with stale air. It doesn't even leave an aftertaste.

Zak Smith said...

Despite some impressive descriptive prose, there's no actual argument under there.

That counts as another tick in the "no" box, assuming the author is actually an entirely new entity.

(Plus more invective.)

Anonymous said...

I am more than just not being a fan of porn, photography and magic markers. Heck, if it wasn't for the 'male-gaze' as an attempt at reparations from a new source (punk- instead of gay- instead of woman- instead of - immigrant- instead of Manet- instead of insert art historical figure here) this project would not have made it past a undergrad critique. I know why I don't like Greenday.

Zak Smith said...

Photography? Magic Markers? Reparations? Green Day? Project? What painting is this person loking at?

Zak Smith said...

"looking" rather

Lisa Lisa said...

Hey Zak,

Are you straight-edge or do you party?

Anonymous said...

kern and crumb and tom of finland make me want to puke.

zak's shit is pure naiive love of girls not some weird demented hatred of them.

and it is kind of pre-raphaelite in an aubrey beadsley way!

kelli said...

Da Vinci made drawings of one of his friends/lovers with an erection. Male gaze , whatever, suck it. People need some realistic understanding of who actually created the canon. And you need to stop reading the same womens' studies textbook from 1972.

Faust said...

Zak is younger than you, smarter than you, hotter than you, and his work is better than yours.

Oh, the bitterness...

Anonymous said...

i hear his dick is barely there, conceptually

Anonymous said...

visually speaking however, it's a whole other story...

Anonymous said...

wow.

these 'defenses' of zak's work speak for themselves. Enjoy your desperate game of cock-swinging. Where are Zak's earnest appeals for reason now?

The day will come when you are all unfuckable. And no one will listen to your boring bullshit anymore. And you'll wonder why.

For now, I'd fuck zak. But I'd put a bag over his paintings first.

Anonymous said...

he's probably asleep or something it was days ago

do you actually have anything against them other than the guy who made them tried to talk to the people on this blog?

Professor Mouth said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

when Mel Bochner rolls his eyes...

Anonymous said...

And a porno?
yes, a porno. Zak is trying way too hard to create a false sense of badassedness. In its worst attempt it feels like work made in the guise of a Larry Clark fan. Yet Clark did the herion, was in the scene and somehow in not being there was there. Zak tries to be there. Wanting to be there will inadvertently not get you there. I do feel like it is important to be in touch with a sense of self, but in Zak's work it is less the self and more this apendage of punkness. In Suzan Sontag's essay on fascism she writes about how people delve into group dynamics to create a false sense of purpose. It is a way of not having to find an identity, it relieves you of this burden. Being a punk, is not an identity it is something that one can simply jump into and imediatly attain all it's bennifits. Be a goth and you get the goth friends, be a punk and you get punk friends. My advice is to drop the punk "objective correlative" ( Judith Williamson) and try to really struggle, really find a voice.

Anonymous said...

What evidence do you have that Zak is not actually a punk (whatever that means?).

As for the porn--whether or not anyone else ever knew about it, there are all kinds of reason some kid who's obsessed with girls would do a porno movie that have nothing to do with creating an image.

And, even if you were right, none of this has anything to do with his marvelous paintings.

Anonymous said...

I can think of all kinds of other reasons to fuck veronica jett

Anonymous said...

I saw Zak's drawings at The Armory Show today, so I thought I'd take one last look- the collection of small drawings were called something like "drawings I made when I became a porn star"-I thought I might find more, but no. I now am decidedly and finally, not interested. End.

Anonymous said...

...because of the title?

Anonymous said...

The freak'll be dead of syphilis or something inside a year anyway.

Anonymous said...

the title sealed the deal after the real disappointment in looking at the drawings.

Anonymous said...

Well, I respectfully disagree--those drawings were magnificent and would've completely refuted the one-trick-pony charge all on their own with their variety one from the next even IF the set of completely different and totally unexpected abstract drawings next to them didn't.

Also, I think the fact that Zak clear is still inhabiting the world he describes is a strength--unlike Mike Kelley or Jeff Koons or Banks Violette who claim to be ironically above the worlds they describe, Zak is actually in it and proving that just because you are wholly immersed in the punk or porn subculture doesn't mean you're not also observant, articulate and aware and that the artist does not have to be some castrated academic.

Professor Mouth said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Long winded anonymous, what are you going on about? All those drawings looked the same to me. Same scratchy, dry labored lines, same palette, same clutter.

And your characterization of academics shows how naive you are. You're falling for the same trick as Smith's dealers and collectors: They think a mohawk or a tattoo=edgy, and edgy=youth, and youth=new. But no matter how much porn he makes or how many tattoos he gets, Zak Smith's drawings are absolutely conservative and predictable. The fact that he draws tits and guitars doesn't change that. There's nothing unsettling or challenging about how Zak Smith draws, how he speaks about his work, where he shows, how he markets himself, or even who he fucks.

Anyone who goes on a '56-hour drawing marathon' for the ARMORY FAIR knows exactly where his bread his buttered.

The 'world' he inhabits is the art world, buddy. And he's about as unconventional as toasted brie to that world. In closing: Yaaawwwwnnnnnnn.

Anonymous said...

He went on a marathin to finish the piece so it could be shown--it wasn't even for sale, dumbass.

Anonymous said...

GIVE IT UP ALREADY!!

We can all see what happened--it’s up there in black and white!--Zak showed up and was way more articulate than anybody expected and totally schooled the fuck out of you all in Merciless.
Fucking.
Detail.
without once losing his temper or sinking to your level despite every provocation and all the full-time professional artists on the blog watched with glee as you jackals got your asses handed to you (and a few even showed up to thank him) and you’re embarassed and so now that he’s gone off to go be in another porno movie or whatever you’re trying to sneak back in here and score points off him and it’s pathetic

Grow up frat boy. It was a WEEK ago! Face it. You suffer. It’s over.

If you underappreciated geniuses hate him so much let the thread die and quit drawing attention to him.

Anonymous said...

fuck you, man.
Sigma Chi rules!

(this is rich) said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
your lawyer said...

For any innocent googler reading this--

The quote directly above was not actually written by Zak Smith--it was written by someone making fun of the fact that when he responds to people he does so in detail and with reference to lived experience.

(this is rich part 2) what a nerd said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Your lawyer said...

For any innocent googler reading this--

The quote directly above was not actually written by Zak Smith--it was written by someone making fun of the fact that when he responds to people he does so in detail and with reference to lived experience.

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