1:08 - A conversation with acclaimed artist Eric Fischl. Fischl, whose work has long chronicled the empty promises of the upwardly mobile middle class, can be found in the collections of The Met, The Whitney, MoMA and MOCA. In the interview, Eric discusses with Craig his inspirations, his process, his narratives and his use of symbolism. The conversation concludes with a discussion of Fischl’s work setting up an artist residency and exhibition space in Sag Harbor, New York called The Church.
53:07 - The week’s top art headlines
Craig: [00:00:09] This is Art Sense, a podcast focused on educating and informing listeners about the past, present and future of art. I'm Craig Gould. This week, I spend the hour in conversation with the acclaimed artist Eric Fishel, official, whose work has long chronicled the empty promises of the upwardly mobile middle class, can be found in the collections of the Met, the Whitney, MoMA and MOCA. In the interview, we discuss his inspirations, his process, his narratives and his use of symbolism. We conclude with a discussion of his work setting up an artist residency in gallery space in Sag Harbor, New York, called the church at the end of the episode. I'll be taking a look at some of the week's top art headlines. But first up, a dive into Eric Fischl's Vision of America. Craig: [00:01:08] Eric Fischl, thank you for joining me today on the podcast. I really appreciate your time, Eric, for for those folks who for I feel like everyone knows your work, but for for those who don't say you were to meet someone at a dinner party who had never seen your work and didn't know you're an artist, how would you describe your work to them? Eric: [00:01:29] I usually say that I paint people and I paint people doing things and sometimes doing things you wish they wouldn't do.Show More >
Craig: [00:01:42] You paint people. You're rooted in figurative work, but we kind of live in a time where as we go through higher education, as a as a visual artist, the system kind of encourages us towards abstraction. How did you feel drawn to the figuration? Eric: [00:02:01] The I,you know, I was trained, as you say, like a lot of students were certainly back in the 70s, 60s and 70s trying to move away from imagery and move away from figuration specifically and to move away from the reference to the body as well. And what I found over a period of time because I certainly tried to do that. But what I found over a period of time was that I was a terrible abstract painter and it took me a while to figure out a system of working that opened up what I'm actually good at, which is telling stories. Craig: [00:02:57] Mm hmm. Eric: [00:02:59] And and so once I did that, then then the past became very clear to me. I just had to get better at it. Craig: [00:03:06] So do you feel like in an age of abstraction, you were able to get traction with your figurative work? How do you feel that you accomplish what you have in your career in the face of abstraction? Is it narrative or is it people making emotional connections? Your vulnerability, people seeing their vulnerabilities in yours? What do you think the secret sauce was there? Eric: [00:03:31] Well, I actually I mean, I think it's all of those things. I, you know,I certainly realized early on that I would be better suited to just paint from a place that I know rather than simply imagine. And so, you know, I began to focus in on my, you know,where I came from, which was American suburbs, where, you know, the kind of family dynamic that I grew up in, which was highly dysfunctional as well as, you know, like the, you know, the middle class embracing of opportunity, upward mobility and all of the, you know, emotional fallout from, you know,inability to achieve those things. And so, you know, so I focused on that. The stories come from a place fictionalized but highly familiar to me. And I think in terms of reception, you know, and the art world timing is everything, and I just happened to hit the crease just right where the sort of the abstraction and the hegemony of the gallery system that only wanted to promote or show abstraction or conceptual art was breaking down. There was a tremendous, you know, plurality that showed up in the late 70s among my peers for doing work in so many different media and styles, et cetera, that the stylistic hegemony of modernism collapsed and people began to think about art making in a very different way. And I sort of hit the figuration and the narrative revival at just the right moment. Craig: [00:06:18] You know, I guess we always try to to compartmentalize or think in relative terms, and I'm drawn to my love of Edward Hopper. And when I experienced your work, I feel a similarity there in terms of it feels a little voyeuristic. I feel like I've been invited into a personal space, but sometimes I don't necessarily feel like I'm supposed to be in that space. You know, maybe you can talk a little bit about that tension in your work. Is that something that you think of intentionally? The fact that we're we're sharing a private moment that maybe isn't necessarily intended for our eyes? Eric: [00:06:57] You know, voyeurism as a word is is very loaded with something that was, you know, certainly seized on by feminists as a particular critique of male seeing. And it has all the connotations of invasiveness, judgmental violation, that kind of thing. I don't see what I do with that, even though what you're seeing is intimate. You know, it's in some cases actually in quite a few cases, the people that you're seeing in my work are not particularly aware that they're being watched. They're being not even watched, they're being seen. Craig: [00:08:04] Mm hmm. Eric: [00:08:04] And and seeing something is different than watching something. Voyeurism has a passivity to it that, You know, it's a little bit different than the way I think about the scenes that I've created. What what I feel is that you're looking in on a moment that's particularly human, that's articularly seen through or felt through an individual within the scene who's experiencing something that either unites them with the surroundings or isolates them from the surroundings, And that that causes, you know, an emotional truth. And that's what I'm after anyway. Craig: [00:09:05] So there's there's nothing loaded there, right, we're a witness does that make sense? Eric: [00:09:10] We you know, what I'm hoping is that the scene that you see either makes you self-aware because you're empathizing with something going on there or your your self aware because you're recalling something similar in your own life or makes you self-conscious because you, you actually don't know what what you're supposed to do. And how you're supposed to be there, but I don't feel that my work empowers people in the sense of not being implicated. Craig: [00:10:07] You know, some of the pieces when I look at them, I feel like I can read the narrative in a number of different ways. That narrative may be perfectly innocent, or there's the possibility that the the narrative could be possibly nefarious. Is that something that you consciously think about when you're determining the concept behind a work? The fact that you know it could be read by somebody a couple of different ways and they could have conflicted feelings about that? Is that an active part of of your creative process? Eric: [00:10:40] Well, I think it's actually my goal, And I would try to further clarify that by saying that I, first of all, I tell myself stories. My paintings are me talking to myself and I'm the primary.viewer, where a painting begins its story and where it ends up are often two very different things, but it's a journey that I take to arrive at a place that captures something for me and surprises me with what it captures. What I try to do is I try to stop the moment when it feels the most pregnant with meaning,butithout its meaning being determined because I think that's the door that becomes open to an audience. That they come into a situation, a scene, a moment that seems like it's full of of meaningfulness. And then they begin to figure out why. And then the why comes from their experience, their, you know, intuition, their intelligence,their,you know, empathy,etc. And and so that's the conversation that I'm looking to have with the audience through the object that I've created. And you know, it's to me, it's the I don't own the meaning of the work in the sense of this scene can only mean one thing. I have my own associations. You know who these people are? What's what happened? Why is this person wearing this or sitting in, you know, knee deep in water, in a formal gown? You know, like, I don't I I can think of reasons why that might happen, but I don't actually know why, you know? But what I do know is that her sitting knee deep in water in a formal gown is actually a profound moment for her. And probably one, you know, through her, we would understand the profound moment ourselves. Craig: [00:13:24] So, so from the process side. Do you sit down and and sketch concepts of the person knee-deep in a gun in the water? Or do you construct these scenarios much like a film director, you know, with models and find these moments as you go? Speaker3: [00:13:44] I don't really sketch as a preparation. I take snapshots. I take a lot of photographs, or I or I have amassed an enormous amount of photographs that I keep returning to. These are photographs of people doing things, you know, either, you know, in place indoors or outdoors,in public, private and so whatever. Sometimes they're hired models, most often it's just sort of street photography. But what I what I find I'm taking pictures of are people who feel animated. They're their bodies are held in a certain. Moment and in a certain way of waiting and waiting itself, that causes me to just watch them with. On Curiosity. And if I'm lucky to have my camera there, I put that in front of me and snap that shot. So when I go to make a painting, I I start in Photoshop choosing a background, you know, whether that background is outside a house on a street or whether it's at a beach or whether it's indoors and a living room. The first choices are always like, Well, let's try this. What's going to happen in this room or what's going to happen in this driveway? And then I find some figure that compels me and I put them there. And then it's like, Is anyone else there? I look for other figures that may be there, are they? Are they standing over the person and are they talking to each other? Or are they back to back? Are there is one walking away that begins to, You know,each one has its implications in terms of an emotional moment? Maybe that turns out there's nobody there. Maybe there's just a dog. Mm hmm. Maybe, you know, maybe it's not indoors, maybe it's outdoors. And so all those changes begin to take shape, and in Photoshop, you can run through a lot of ideas very quickly. What what happens is that at a certain moment, things become fixed because they feel real. And you know, the woman that I was referring to generally as, you know, sitting knee deep in water and a formal dress, she wasn't in the photograph in water at all. And she wasn't even near water, you know? But she was she was looking in a way of feeling in a way to me where there was a sense of feeling internal feeling of isolation and. You know, as though something sad or tragic has happened. And and she felt stuck in it, and there was something about putting her not on a chair but on the edge of a pool in water where the formality of her dress begins to, you know, become sort of shockingly inelegant and inappropriate because it's, you know, getting soaked and matted and, you know,whatever seemed to reinforce the feeling that she was conveying of, you know, sadness and isolation. And then,you know, it just kind of builds along those lines. So what I'm saying is where something starts out, where it ends up a very different and I don't know until I get to it. Craig: [00:18:27] You know, one of the things I picked up on your answer there when you started talking about water, I feel like water is a recurring character, venue, theme in your work. Do you think there is a particular... I hate for us to feel like we're going through psychoanalysis, but what is it about water that you think attracts you to make it part of these these venues in a character, in your work? Eric: [00:18:53] I'm not. I'm not sure I hold on to it in the same way that I did when I first started to think about it. But I also have an questions question. So but when I first began to think about water, I thought about it as symbolic, metaphoric, archetypal. I thought of it as on one level as a place that we came from genetically, but we can no longer return to. We can no longer live in. Right. So it's something that holds deep meaning for us on the on the most sort of fundamental biological level and that it's a part of us without us being able to survive in it. And that to me, spins out metaphorically into, you know, all kinds of social, political, historical truths. And and then also, I was sort of fascinated or I was amused by the difference between, you know, a socialized containment of of nature in the form of things like zoos and arboretum and and swimming pools and formal gardens and things that kind of cultivation of nature, which is, you know a way of dominating something that is indomitable, which is nature. And and so I was always been aware of that irony and insistence within people's lives. You know, there's I'm always amused by houses that build themselves on the ocean and then put a pool between them and the ocean, you know, because it's the irony is explicit in that in that way. And so that's another thing that I think about. And then I think, you know, psychological levels, the water represents a kind of undercurrent, something that, you know, holds a lot of deep meaning within us. So... Craig: [00:21:48] You know, it's interesting in your response there. I'm thinking of a particular painting from one of your more recent series, Late America, where there are two figures in older, more powerful, kind of bloated adult male in a pool and a young boy poolside and visualizing that power struggle. The older male is is living in the dominion of how he is regulated. This basic element, you know, have harbored this water and this is my domain. He comes across as being very powerful, whereas the boy poolside it's obvious that he does not contain the same amount of power, right, and can we talk a little bit about that series Late America and some of the themes that you were working through in your head when when you made that body of work. Eric: [00:22:34] The painting that you're referring to is titled Face Off. You know, I think that I was everything you said about it was moving along the same lines that I was thinking about it, and I think it was a meditation on, you know, masculinity, maleness,you know, boy transitioning or, you know, pre transition to manhood, kind of dealing with an imposing physicality and not quite knowing how to, you know, embrace it, embrace power. And you know, he's one of the things that is part of the painting is that he's holding in front of him in front of his genitals, a small cloth, you know, hiding his privates from the gaze of the mature male. And so, you know, that's part of the intimidation, the sexual power or, you know, the pre sexual lies power is what's being, you know, creating the space between them, you know, the series actually started out as just a single painting, which is titled Late America, and it was a painting in response to the election of Donald Trump. And it's a painting of naked male,large, naked male in a fetal position seen from from the feet up bare ass, one ball showing, you know, sort of arms wrapped around him. You can't tell whether it's head's in the water or, you know, just laying next to he's on the edge of a pool and he's next to him as a small boy who's maybe seven years old or something like that, who's in a bathing suit wrapped in a towel. It has the American flag pattern on it, wrapped over his shoulders, and he's hugging a teddy bear. In the background are two workers that sort of feel like they're Hispanic, Latino, who are tending the lawn and are not paying any attention to the this particular drama that's that's there. And what I was struck with was what, you know, through the through the eyes of the child, something that felt at that moment. Like utter failure and and an authority figure that you know, a boy would look to, who can't handle, who can handle the moment at all. And it's just, you know, helplessly wrapped up in himself and. And so that began what became a series, you know? We your listeners, I don't actually start paintings by thinking of them as series, I make one painting at a time and I find sometimes that by the third or fourth painting, they're starting to coalesce into a larger kind of series. At other times, they they don't seem to connect at all. They're just I'm thinking this feeling this. Thinking that feeling that, you know, so I never know. But in late America, it Became a real sort of meditation on class and and, you know, white, you know, upward wealth, mobile wealth with a lot of things just seemingly unfulfilling about their what they've surrounded themselves with. So it seemed seemed like it was sort of trying to wrap itself around some level of decadence. Craig: [00:27:58] I guess my impression is that people love that painting. I think it's subtly genius. I mean, even down to, you know, in my mind, if that figure laying poolside didn't have that, should we call it a Coppertone tan line? We wouldn't make this immediate. Like, you're not explicitly telling us that that's Trump, but there's something about that tan line that's implicitly telling us, that's our frame of reference. You know, I think it's just an amazing painting. You know, we've talked about this notion of us, the viewer kind of being the third the third person in the painting almost like, you know, Van Eyck's reflection in The Arnolfini Portrait. Like, we're. That that third viewer. But in some of your paintings, I've heard you referenced before that there's a particular object in the room that's kind of serving as a witness in this space. I think in particular, particularly like you're painting the Philosopher's Chair or Daddy's Girl. Can you talk about this notion of object as witness? Why do you feel like that is a useful tool? And what is it making us feel and how is it changing our perception of of the space? Eric: [00:29:14] You know, first of all, it's one of the things I love about painting is that you can imbue anything in the painting with the feeling that it is conscious that it is witness to something so it doesn't have to be another person. It can be an inanimate object, but somehow it figures large in the way you understand the dynamic of the moment. The painting that you're referring to is called the philosopher's chair,and it was actually a painting. Not not in terms of what it looked like, but in terms of somebody, a person I respect Mario Diacono suggesting to me that I enter into a conversation with two Edward Hopper paintings that he painted 10 years apart. He painted a naked woman laying in bed with a clothed man sitting on the edge of the bed. Craig: [00:30:28] Hmm. Mm hmm. Eric: [00:30:30] The naked woman laying on the bed back is turned to appearing to be asleep or sleeping. Ten years later, he reversed it. And you have. A naked man laying on the bed with a woman. Sitting on the edge of the bed, staring out the window, and, you know, so he he was exploring relationships both, you know, emotional as well as marital, as well as sexual relationships between a couple mature couple. And so Mario suggested that I try to, you know, enter into a dialog with those things. And so that's what the philosopher's chair became. And in my painting, it's an image of a younger woman either putting on or taking off her clothes. It seems to be either unbuttoning or buttoning her skirt. She's wearing a bra. No shirt. Her face is in the shadows. So you just sort of see the action of whatever she's doing. And across the room, as an elder man staring at the chair that separates them and the chair is a sort of French 40s butterfly chair with this sort of Japanese and bamboo bird and bamboo forest pattern to it. Which kind of the way I painted it looks like blood veins, which has both, you know, the decorative pattern that it had. And then also with the looseness of the pain, it seems like more some kind of, you know, body with a blood system. That's that's a part of it. Anyway, he's standing there, arms and our hands in his pockets. His zipper, which is a small detail that takes a while to see, is that it's open so you don't know whether he's, you know, they've had sex and he's dressed and she's in the process of dressing or they're about to have sex. And you know, he's he can't quite tell whether he's going to be able to perform. Anyway. So it's again a meditation on desire, fulfillment, identity, need that kind of thing. And the chair in this thing mediates this moment. It seems like it controls the space between them in a way that is not going to let it resolve itself. Craig: [00:34:08] I've, you know, I've also heard you talk about in the other painting I referenced Daddy's Girl about this glass of tea, that this glass of tea needed to be in the scene as some form of resolution. Speaker3: [00:34:20] Yeah, that yeah, I mean, that painting that was so hard to find where I was in it, what it came from actually was, you know, shows you how little it takes for me to sort of start with an idea and think, Well, maybe this would be a good good thing. I I had at my point in my career at that time become known and labeled as somebody dealing with psychosexual suburban dramas. That was somebody gave me that Craig: [00:35:01] You were labeled, Eric: [00:35:03] I was labeled. Eric: [00:35:05] So I thought, you know, my audience is assuming that everything I do. As a certain level of, you know, twisted miss to it. Could I paint in a sense? Could I paint something that was just a very simple moment, affectionate moment? And I had a photograph of a friend of mine on the beach hugging his two year old child, two year old girl, just a very sweet,tender moment between a father and a young child, you know? And so I thought, why don't I paint that? And I did, but I did. One thing that wasn't in the photograph, which was I took his bathing suit off, so nothing explicit is going on. But he's naked now, hugging his naked child. And it caused me some anxiety that it would be misinterpreted, that that it was it was like inappropriate in some way that people would think that there was something perverted going to take place. So I put in a the wife, the mother in there in a chaise lounge chair, out on a patio and their beautiful modern house and and I put the mother laying next to them in the show's lounge. And then I then I felt like I just copped out that I wasn't eeling the things I was afraid I'd be accused of feeling. So why should I give in to those feelings? So I took her out. But the feeling didn't go away. So then I put a gardener in watering the plants across the patio, figuring, Well, there's somebody else here, so nothing's going to happen. And then I again, that feeling of like nothing is happening other than a tender moment. So what's my concern? And so I took the gardener out. At one point, I was so confused about my own feelings about this thing that I actually painted myself sitting at the patio table in the back of the patio, staring out at myself. And then I knew I was really confused. And so I took I took me out of there as well. And and at one point, I just simply put in this glass of tea, iced tea, sitting on a planter, the corner of a planter and somehow that resolved everything because the tea sits in a place that you don't know whether it's his tea or the viewer's tea. It's halfway between both of us,which means that there's somebody else there andit becomes this sort of like anchor and pivot around Something that has profound meaning interpreted meaning depending on whether you take it to the light side or the dark side. And anyway, That's that's how that tea came, Craig: [00:38:59] Right? It's a genius way to navigate that because again, it's so subtle. It's implied in psychologically we're we're kind of left to connect the dots. Let me ask you, so you've kind of gone back and forth between really intimate hopper like isolation sort of scenes where it's it's very private and we feel very private versus you've explored other themes where there's huge crowds, whether that's at the beach or the art market. Is there a particular reason that you were attracted to those crowds? Was it a matter of constructing these overlapping narratives that they're, you know, everyone has their own story going on at the same time or what attracted you to to the crowds in particular? Eric: [00:39:49] I think exactly what you're talking about, you know, the in terms of painting complexity, there's a crowd may be the most complex in terms of compositional organization and also something that makes you. Like. Everybody in there is real enough to be in their own thoughts, their own world, their own moment and and so it's compelling to try to organize that and organize it as a crowd and organize it as a painting, composition, scale and massing and Speaker3: [00:40:38] Scatter light. All those kinds of things. So I think it was. It's partly that, but you might be referring more specifically to a series I did called the art market art fair. I mean, the art fair paintings, which were paintings that I did after I had completed a memoir and when I was writing my memoir, I had brought it up to the early 90s when I was still what I would consider the peak of my career, right before the art world changed in a way that I began to feel less a part of. And so I was happy to end it on a good note. And the publisher said, "No, no, no, you got to take this all the way. You've got to bring it up to date," which actually forced me to look at the art world in a way that I had not really wanted to. And and I struggled to to do it because the, you know, the art world that there exists now is not the art world I came into, nor the one that I embraced. It really has so little to do with whatever. I think the true value of art is within a culture, within a society and within an epoch. And so I struggled with my disappointments and my anger and frustrations. Anyway, when I finished it, I thought, you know, now that I'd written it out, I thought, "Well, now I'm going to show people what I'm talking about." And I'd never been to an art fair before. I'd always resisted going. But I thought, you know, I'm just going to go and paint art fair so people can see what I'm, you know, the way I see it. Craig: [00:43:02] Mm hmm. Eric: [00:43:02] And so that's where the art fair paintings came from. And of course, the art fairs are, you know, cacophony of visual craziness. I mean, they're they're crowded. They're propped up by cubicles with showing artwork that one cubicle to the next doesn't relate to each other. There's a, you know, just a kind of overwhelming stimulation visual stimulation there. And so that the paintings became a really fun way and a fresh way for me of organizing a lot of contradictory and complex shapes, color spaces as well as behavior. Craig: [00:43:56] So I can't let you go without asking you about the church. Can you? Can you tell me about what's going on there in Sag Harbor, at the church in kind of what your your vision for the church is? Eric: [00:44:11] Yeah, I thank you for asking about that. It's certainly one of the things I'm most excited about right now. I...my wife, April Gornick, and I have lived in Sag Harbor since 1985 and have lived full time in Sag Harbor since 2004. For Sag Harbor is a rapidly changing town out on the east end of Long Island with a deep, deep history that actually kind of separates it from the Hamptons and a very interesting way. It it's a it's a town that. Was. Ship building, whaling industry, industrial town. It was a town that was the first point of entry. First point of taxation for cargoes coming into the thing it was, it was. It was a town that connected to a global economy as opposed to a local agrarian or fishing one, which the other Hamptons were. And because of that, the population was cosmopolitan, which meant that it was had an understanding that they were a part of a much larger and more diverse place, and that they had a significant place in that. And it attracted artists from the very beginning, mostly writers, but performers and some visual artists, musicians, dancers ET. So it has this great creative legacy, and it is transforming itself in the way that so many of the art places in the world have done recently, which is it's being gentrified into a kind of parody of itself as an artsy environment. And the truth about the Hamptons is that no younger artists can afford to live out here anymore. So several years ago, I bought a house in SAG Harbor and turned it into an artist residence to bring Begin to try to bring people in, even for short periods of time, just to keep the energy vitality of the creative world alive. And in 2017, the This Methodist Church across the street from the house was became available. It had been consecrated in 2004, went through a series of owners who tried to do different things with it, from turning it into condos, two luxury homes and none of that worked. So it went back on the market and I realized if I wanted to be ambitious about keeping the arts real in Sag Harbor as opposed to, you know, artsy, we needed a big space. And so I bought the church and working with Lee Skolnick, the architect and friend of mine, we transformed it into a creativity center that will be used for both art exhibitions and performances and workshops and artist residence conferences. You know, everything we can possibly handle there, we're going to try to do. We opened our doors in May and have been developing programing since then. We've put a show up for the summer, which is fantastic. Called Road Rage, which is a show of 25 artists were, you know, a few generations that have all used the car as a starting point for their creative expression. And my thinking on that was we have to find a way to bridge the gap between the art world and the public because there's a profound distrust or disinterest suspicion within the public as to what art is and why it should be a part of their lives. And so I thought everybody has had a relationship to a car. The car and art is one of its largest genres to to empower an audience by having them go into a show knowing that they know as much about cars as the show seemed like a good idea. And and what they would see would be that the thing that they know a lot about, they see other other. People finding creative ways of expressing things they know about the car and feel about it, et cetera, and so they're immediately engaged in a kind of conversation about it. You know, on some level, anyway, so that's that's the ambition behind the church itself was to try to create a place that found creative ways to to educate and to break down defenses and the misconceptions and stuff. And and and also keep us interested in what it means to be alive and which is what the arts are about. And let me just say that the name The Church was not a name that we gave it. It was one of those things that whe Ibought the church, people would say,"Oh, I hear you bought the church, right? How's the church going? I hear you're renovating the church. What are you going to do with the church? Oh, you know, I can't wait to go to the church." So it seemed pretty obvious that the church already had a name and we just made it that. Craig: [00:51:19] So that's great. So do do you do you have a theme in mind for for the next show? Is there? Is there something already in the works for the next? Eric: [00:51:31] No, nothing concrete where we've been throwing around ideas. First of all, again, the car art is enormous, so it might be that a second car show happens at some point in the next year, but we've also been talking about water. and you know, again, that locates SAG Harbor very specifically because its history is based on the water as well as its location. So there's a sort of a, you know, an obvious connection to sort of exploring some of the creative schematics surrounding water. And so that might be a way that we go as well. But we haven't settled on anything yet. Craig: [00:52:23] Well, Eric, I think I've taken more of your time than I than I asked for, but I really treasure this opportunity to to kind of dig inside of your head and and understand more about your work and your process. And I really appreciate you being so gracious with your time today. Eric: [00:52:41] Oh, well, thank you for asking me to be a part of the podcast, and I really appreciate that and time flew. It's funny how when you're talking about yourself... Craig: [00:53:01] And now the news. Craig: [00:53:06] Earlier this month, MGM Resorts announced its plans to sell its collection of Picassos, which currently reside at the Bellagio Gallery of Art in Las Vegas. 11 Picassos will be offered for auction by Sotheby's and in a move that's the first of its kind for the auction house. The auction will be conducted from the venue in Las Vegas. The collection of works is expected to bring in excess of one hundred million dollars. The highlight of the lot is the nineteen thirty eight painting Femme O'Berry, which depicts Picasso's young mistress, Marie Therese Walter. If you're wondering how MGM came to own such a collection, you have to look no further than Steve Wynn, the casino resort magnate responsible for the Mirage, the win, the Bellagio, among others. Wynn is a huge fan of Picasso and a master collection that has long resided at the Bellagio, but we're actually on the books of the Mirage and Wynn MGM purchased the Mirage. Along came the Picasso's. It's hard to hear of Steve Wynn and a portrait of Marie Therese Walter, and not think of the events surrounding the sale of the painting thereve, which is French for the dream. Back in two thousand six, La Treve, which is also a portrait of Marie Therese, was agreed to be sold by Wynn to hedge fund financier Steven A. Cohen for one hundred and thirty nine million dollars, which would have been a record at the time. The painting, which is interesting in its own right abstractly, captures Marie Therese asleep and dreaming of naughty things in that abstraction of her sleeping face. Craig: [00:54:55] It's easy to pick out a very phallic shape. It doesn't get more Picasso than that, an abstract painting of his young mistress dreaming about his appendage. When the deal was finalized, Wynn had a party for his A-list friends to come say goodbye to the painting. Well, it turns out that a Wynn loves to talk with his hands wildly gesticulating, and b he has a condition called retinitis pigmentosa, which causes an impairment in one's peripheral vision. Well, the result is that when stuck his elbow right through the painting, causing a tear the size of a silver dollar, the cell was called off when spent ninety thousand dollars to repair the painting, which was then revalued at eighty five million when then filed a claim with the painting's insurer for the perceived $54 million loss. Lloyd's of London balked. There was a lawsuit. There was a settlement in the years later in 2013. The painting was finally sold to that original intended buyer, Steven A. Cohen, for one hundred and fifty five million dollars. So with all of this in mind, MGM may want to restrict the seventy nine year old wins access to the paintings leading up to the late October sell. If you aren't too much of an art snob, I'd suggest checking out the new Netflix documentary Bob Ross Happy Accidents, Betrayal and Greed about the eighties permed Air Force veteran that has sedated generations with his joy of painting television series. Craig: [00:56:40] Ross has unexpectedly become a cultural icon with as many kitschy licensed products as Vincent van Gogh, and that's saying something. It's easy to be dismissive of Ross, his down-home charm and his 30 minute paintings, but there's something about his assuring tone and the ability to make something from nothing in such a short amount of time. That's made the program an addiction for many Americans. Executive produced by Melissa McCarthy and her husband, Ben Falcone, documentary filmmaker Joshua Raphe dives into the unseen side of Bob in the posthumous battle for the rights to his name and likeness. There are secrets, villains and sympathetic figures looking for redemption. Rotten Tomatoes rates it a seventy two percent fresh, and I'd have to agree that it's worth a watch. That's all the time we have for this week. You've been listening to art since you can find the show on Apple Podcasts, iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher Radio, Spotify or your favorite podcast app. If you've enjoyed this podcast, be sure to subscribe. And while you're there, please rates show and leave a quick review. Your feedback is the key to other folks finding us. If you'd like to see images related to the conversation, read a transcript and find other bonus features. You can go to Canvia Art. And click on the podcast tab if you'd like to reach out to me. You can email me at Craig at Canvia Art. Thanks for listening.
< Show Less