Art people are so weird.

I read this book The Art Prophets, by Richard Polsky, which is a collection of art criticism essays that talk about dealers who discovered and promoted specific genres of art that weren’t necessarily appreciated straightaway. Like Ivan Karp with pop art, or Stan Lee in comics, Virginia Dwan with earthworks, etc. I read it during jury duty. I had a system. I’d read a couple of chapters of Ada, or Ardor, a couple of essays from The Art Prophets, and then I’d read a trashy novel (you don’t need to know details on the last part. Focus on how I am reading Nabokov).

There are actually a lot of things to say about The Art Prophets, but I’m not going to tell you any of them because this is a thing that happens in it:

In 1984, when I visited the Lightning Field, Dia would only allow two people out there at at ime (the number has since increased to six). You also had to commit to spend twenty-four hours on the property. Accommodations in a restored rancher’s cabin, adjacent to the work, are comfortable but spartan…

The temptation to photograph the work is overwhelming. Somehow, I was able to resist; it all comes down to honoring the artist’s pact with the viewer. What I did find irresistible was spending the warmest part of the afternoon interacting with the sculpture in the nude (disclosure: I wore high-top tennis shoes out of a healthy respect for the area’s diamondback rattlers). Since the Lightning Field was a work of art stripped down to its bare essence, it felt appropriate to do so myself.

(emphasis mine)

Did that feel appropriate? Are you sure? I TAKE A DIFFERENT VIEW.

Also, you know what my favorite part of this is? The word “interacting”. What does that mean, Richard Polsky? In God’s name what does that mean?

  • Very very weird! But also: you were able to READ on jury duty? How did you get away with that?!!!

  • When my family interacts with sculpture, we pose with it. And by “pose” I mean try to imitate exactly how the figure is standing; we think it gives us more of the feeling the sculpture is trying to express. I suppose that in certain cases with very muscle-y sculptures posing in the nude could potentially give us more of that feeling, but to quote a line from Mary Poppins “that might be going a bit too far.”

  • I THINK WE KNOW WHAT HE DID. And now I can’t stop laughing. How many blow-up doll “sculptures” do you think he has at home? Oh wait, is that inappropriate?

    • Ela

      Pole dancing. That must be it.

    • anna

      well at least it wasn’t Ivan Karp’s poop art.

      • anna

        please ignore that comment. It posted when I was scrolling up to check spelling and I now see that he promoted pop art.

  • Ela

    Ha, what that link tells me is that no structural or geotechnical engineers were involved in the design and construction of ‘The Lightning Field’ (since it now needs reinforcement), and artists know nothing about engineering.

    Sorry, are my biases showing?

  • Art people ARE weird. Have you read The Family Fang? HAVE YOU?

  • zibilee

    Oh my GOD! That is the weirdest thing I have ever heard, and yes, I am clueless about how one would “interact” with a sculpture in the nude! Jenny you make me laugh out loud every time you post!

  • Amy @ My Friend Amy


  • Too… many… disturbing… visuals…

  • I’m guessing he didn’t mean what the words suggest. It ought to been worded in a different way…

  • Among other images that this sentence suggests (ahem), I suddenly imagine a naked guy frolicking through the lightning field (with his shoes on of course) going “Woooo!” And if two people were allowed there at the same time, what was the other person doing?

  • Jenny

    I’m inexpressibly pleased that you’re finding the Nabokov delicious.