Deborah Solomon

  • Aired:  01/14/14
  •  | Views: 16,007

Art critic Deborah Solomon talks contemporary art and shares insights from her Norman Rockwell biography, "American Mirror." (6:55)

>> Stephen: WELCOME BACK,EVERYBODY!

MY GUEST TONIGHT IS THE A RENOWNART CRITIC.

SHE'S ABOUT TO MEET AN ARTCRITIC CRITIC.

PLEASE WELCOME DEBORAH SOLOMON!

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)DEBORAH, GOOD TO SEE YOU, THANKS

FOR COMING ON.

NICE TO SEE YOU AGAIN.

NOW MADAME, AS I SAID BEFORE,YOU'RE AN ART CRITIC.

I'M GOING TO WARN YOU UP FRONTI'M NO FAN OF THE FORM, ALL

RIGHT?

(LAUGHTER)IF ART HAS TO BE EXPLAINED TO ME

CHUCK IT.

ALL RIGHT?

>> YEAH.

YEAH.

>> Stephen: YOU ARE THE AUTHOROF --

>> WELL, I' TRY TO HELP YOUTONIGHT.

WE'LL HAVE YOU LOOK AT APAINTING.

THAT'S ONE OF THE PROBLEMS I'VEGOT WITH YOU.

YOU'VE WRITTEN PREVIOUSBIOGRAPHIES OF JACKSON POLLOCK,

JOSEPH CORNELL.

YOUR NEW BOOK IS CALLED"AMERICAN MIRROR, THE LIFE AND

ART OF NORMAN ROCKWELL."

>> CORRECT.

>> Stephen: HERE'S MY BEEF, DEB.

THE REASON I LIKE NORMANROCKWELL IS HE'S NOT LIKE ONE OF

THESE AVANT-GARDE GUYS WHERE IHAVE TO GO INTO A ROOM IN A

MUSEUM AND THERE'S A PILE OFUNCOOKED SPAGHETTI WITH A LAMP

OVER IT AND THEY GO "THAT'S ARTA."

HE PAINTS A MAILMAN AND I GO"THAT'S A MAILMAN."

WHY DO I NEED YOU TO EXPLAINTHAT TO ME?

>> WELL, IT'S INTERESTING.

DURING HIS LIFETIME-- YOUPROBABLY KNOW-- HE WAS DERIDED

BY THE ART COMMUNITY.

>> Stephen: BY THE ELITES,PEOPLE LIKE YOU.

>> BY ART HISTORIANS AS ANON-ENTITY AND A TOXIC CULTURE

POLLUTER.

>> Stephen: AND AN ILLUSTRATOR.

>> A LOWLY ILLUSTRATOR WHOPAINTED CALENDARS WITH BOY

SCOUTS ON THEM.

NOW 36 YEARS AFTER HIS DEATH ITHINK IT'S INTERESTING THAT

WE'RE STILL TALKING ABOUT HISWORK IN THAT IT HAS TURNED OUT

TO HAVE THE STAYING POWER OF THEABSTRACT PAINTING THAT WAS

CELEBRATING DURING HIS LIFETIME.

>> Stephen: LET'S LOOK AT THISMAN'S WORK.

JIM, LET'S PUT IT RIGHT HERE.

THIS FIRST ONE, THAT'S ROCKWELLHIMSELF?

>> THAT'S A SELF-PORTRAIT.

>> Stephen: IT'S A REALISTICPORTRAIT BUT IT'S ALMOST DEALING

WITH THE SURREALIST REPUTATIONOF THE ARTIST HIMSELF.

DO I SOUND LIKE AN ART CIT SNICKBECAUSE I JUST PULLED THAT

(BLEEP) OUT OF MY ASS.

>> NOT AT ALL.

NOT AT ALL.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)I I HAVE THIS WHAT'S INTERESTING

ABOUT THE PAINTING IS THAT HE ISCOMPARING HIS RUMBLED APPEARANCE

WITH THE IDEALIZED IMAGE ON THECANVAS.

HE'S TELLING US THAT ARE START ALIE THAT TELLS THE TRUTH.

>> Stephen: I'LL BUY THAT ONE.

LET'S GO TO THE NEXT ONE.

THIS ONE IS -- WHAT'S THIS CALL?

>> "FREEDOM FROM WANTS."

ONE OF THE FOUR FREEDOMS HEPAINTED TO ILLUSTRATE PRESIDENT

ROOSEVELT'S IDEAS ABOUT WHY WEWERE FIGHTING WORLD WAR II.

>> YOU CAN'T TELL ME HE WAS ALIBERAL RIGHT.

HE COULDN'T HAVE BEEN A COMMIESOCIALIST LIKE ROOSEVELT.

THIS GUY IS A HEARTLAND PAINTER.

THIS GUY IS FROM THE HEARTLANDOF AMERICA.

>> NO, HE'S BEEN MISAPPROPRIATEDBY RIGHT WINGERS.

THEY WAS MAN WHO BELIEVED INEQUALITY AND TOLERANCE AND VOTED

FOR J.F.K. IN 1960 AND LBJ IN1964.

>> Stephen: THAT'S ONE OF THETHINGS WHY I DIDN'T WANT TO HEAR

A CRITIC TALK ABOUT IT.

>> Stephen: YOU SHOULD ALSO KNOWHE PAINTED THE DEFYING IMAGE OF

THE CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT, THEPROBLEM WE ALL LIVE WITH, THE

THE PEOPLE WHO WANT TO TURN HIMINTO A CARTOON VERSION OF AN ALL

WHITE BORING AMERICA DON'T HOLDMUCH CREDENCE.

>> Stephen: HE DID PAINT A LOTOF WHITE PEOPLE.

>> HE DID.

HE DID.

>> Stephen: LET'S GO TO THE NEXTONE.

ONE THAT'S THIS CALLED?

>> "SAYING GRACE."

>> Stephen: THIS JUST SOLD ONSOTHEBYS FOR $46 MILLION.

>> THAT IS CORRECT.

>> Stephen: THE HIGHEST PRICEEVER PAID.

>> Stephen: WE DON'T KNOW WHO --FOR WHAT, FOR THAT PAINTING?

>> FOR AN AMERICAN PAINTING.

>> Stephen: WELL, FOR ANAMERICAN PAINTING OF THAT PERIOD

MEANING WE'RE LOOKING AT ARTISTSLIKE ROCKWELL, EDWARD HOPPER AND

GEORGIA O'KEEFE.

YES, IT'S REPRESENTATIONAL,CORRECT.

>> Stephen: SO ISN'T IT THE BESTREPUTATION IF IT COSTS THE MOST?

HASN'T THE MARKET SPOKEEN?

>> NO, NO!

I WANT TO TELL YOU --.

>> Stephen: DO YOU BELIEVE INTHE FREE MARKET?

>> THAT I BELIEVE THE MARKET ISA CRITIC BUT IT'S NOT A VERY

GOOD CRITIC.

>> Stephen: NOT A GOOD AS ONE ASEVER SAW.

>> Stephen:>> EXACTLY.

>> Stephen: THE MARKET WILLDETERMINE HOW GOOD YOUR BOOK IS,

BY THE WAY.

DON'T INSULT THE MARKET, DEB.

WHY DO YOU THINK THIS SOLD FORSO MUCH MONEY?

WHAT'S GOING ON HERE?

>> IT'S ALSO A THANKSGIVINGPICTURE.

AND IT SHOWS A GRANDMOTHER ANDGRANDSON GIVING THINGS IN THE --

GIVING THANKS IN THE MIDDLE OF ABUSTLING DINER.

THE DETAIL IS EXQUISITE, YOU CANMAKE OUT THE "NEW YORK TIMES."

PHENOMENON.

>> Stephen: YOU CAN SEE THE FORKAND KNIFE.

>> AND SEE THE "NEW YORK TIMES"?

HE READ THE "NEW YORK TIMES."

>> Stephen: EVERYBODY'S GOTTHEIR FLAWS.

(LAUGHTER)>> Stephen: HERE'S MY REAL

PROBLEM WITH YOU.

IT'S BAD ENOUGH YOU'RE BEING ACRITIC BUT YOU'RE ALSO TRYING TO

BE SOME KIND OF CRITICAL SLEUTH.

LOOK AT THIS NEXT PAINTING HERE.

YOU HAVE LOOKED AT SOME OF HISPAINTINGS AND YOU'VE SAID YOU

DETECT A PREFERENCE FOR MEN OVERWOMEN IN HIS SUBJECTS AND YOU'RE

PROJECTING THAT IN THEPOSSIBILITY OF HOMOEROTIC

UNDERTONES IN HIS WORK.

>> WELL, IT'S TRUE HE DID PAINTMEN MORE THAN WOMEN.

HE WAS A FIGURE PAINTER WHOFAVORED MEN AND THAT'S UNUSUAL

BECAUSE MOST FIGURE PAINTERSPAINT WOMEN.

PICASSO, FOR INSTANCE, YOU KNOWPICASSO PAINTED WOMEN.

>> Stephen: AND PUT TOO MANY OFTHESE ON.

(LAUGHTER)>> MATISSE, WOMEN.

GAUGIN, WOMEN.

>> Stephen: SO HE PAINTED A LOTOF GUYS -- SO HE PAINTED A LOT

OF GUYS YOU'RE SAYING IT'SSOMETHING THAT MIGHT HAVE GAY

TENDENCYS?

YOU'RE SAYING HE MIGHT BE HOMESFWHAL THAT'S WHAT YOU'RE

SAYING!

>> YOU USED THE WORD HOMOEROTIC.

DO YOU KNOW WHAT THAT MEANS?

>> Stephen: IT MEANS BAD!

HOMOEROTIC DOESN'T MEAN THATYOU'RE PERMANENTLY ANYTHING.

IT'S JUST A PASSING IMPULSE.

SO IF ONE FEELS A HOMOEROTICIMPULSE AS AN ART HISTORIAN

MIGHT SAY IT MEANS THAT WE HAVETWO MALE FIGURES SHOWING

AFFECTION FOR EACH OTHER.

AND I --.

>> Stephen: SO THE SUBJECT CANTELL US SOMETHING ABOUT THE

POSSIBLE FEELINGS OF THE PAINTERSEXUALLY?

>> WELL, IT CAN TELL US -- ITCAN TELL US SOMETHING ABOUT THE

ARTIST'S IMAGINATION AND WHATEXCITED HIS GAZE.

>> Stephen: SO YOU'RE SAYINGWARHOL IMAGINED GETTING IT ON

WITH SOUP CANS?

(LAUGHTER)(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

HFRJTS WE DON'T WANT TO GET INTOWARHOL'S SEXUALITY BECAUSE, YOU

KNOW, THAT'S JUST CAN OF WORMS.

A CAMPBELL'S SOUP OF -- ACAMPBELL'S SOUP CAN OF WORMS.

>> Stephen: HMM,MM GOOD.

THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR JOININGME.

DEBORAH SOLOMON.

THE BOOK IS "AMERICAN MIRROR"

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