Postby CAP » Thu Aug 23, 2012 1:58 am

Here's Julie's master class - for the video at least. It's interesting for what it says about The Schnab and the state of art education in the US. The Schnab's message is basically, "Please yourself, do it your way, don't be bullied by authorities." This sounds good, and no doubt reflects a deeply held belief on his part but it ignores so much else, for the earnest art student, in the end it looks naive and massively self-indulgent.

It's all very well to question received judgement and advice, but there's no point just shunning it from the start. If you're fabulously wealthy with a fireproof reputation, of course you can have it 'your way' - you can churn out drive-in-screen size epics by the warehouse load, confident that there's a network of supporters and patrons that will take at least some of them, eventually. But if you're just starting out, first you've got to get your bearings, second you've got to decide what it is you actually want, who it is you think you are/want to be. It will do you no good simply to be confident that you can afford to indulge yourself in the most cursory of sketches on vast industrial tarpaulins procured by a team of assistants.The Schnab spent enough time in art schools in Texas, on the Whitney's special 'talented' programme (if memory serves me correctly in the early 70s) to know you just don't launch into your own thing, indifferent of the art world and its fashions. Not unless you want to be an outsider, and then you wouldn't be trooping along to someone like The Schnab's studio if you were. The Schnab's is not giving anything away to these kids as far as positioning and networking is concerned. There's a message there, for sure.

But looking closer at even his vaguest of rationales, - concerning his preference for 'prepared' surfaces, found or used painting supports. His main claim here is that adopted surfaces inflect the picture, add to its meaning. He maintains that he is intent upon showing 'what else or more a painting can be'. But in itself the claim is trivial. Is he really doing anymore than Rauschenburg, in this respect, for instance? Not to mention any number of Cubist/Dadaist/Surrealist collage works? Starting from a found surface is hardly a compelling discovery by the time Schnabsie gets to the broken crockery scene, much less the odd assortment of materials that follow for him. If he can claim any distinction here it is that a novel surface, like a novel means of paint application, decisively renews the imagery delivered. A found surface is supposedly like a new tool for drawing, in this regard.

But the evidence overwhelmingly points to the contrary. Most of the time results only confirm The Schnab's meagre resources as a draughtsman, his indifference to the issues of figuration (even within Expressionism or Primitivism) and pictorial construction. Ultimately he comes across as an extravagant and pretentious slob, lumbering through his turgid allegories, his clogged allusions to his cultural milieu (Joy Division et al). As far as film making goes, he is not much more an a dutiful storyteller, respectful of gifted actors and with the occasional arty camera angle/lens. But the vision is less a matter of point of view, than commendation for the stubborn outsider or handicapped individual, battling against society. Again, the message is still "Do it your way" - sooner or later they come around. But this too is a sham.

In the video, this attitude is summed up by his invitation for the class to all adjourn for a pizza as they troop back from a private viewing of a rough cut for one of his feature films. Yeah! time for Pizza everyone! This is how a master class ends, not on some valuable insight from a highly respected painter, but the consolations of fast food. Hoe in guys, this is all you get from The Schnab.
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