Fine Art Notebook™

The art world in general, NY, South Florida and Italy in particular…

Missing New York

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Irving Sandler

I was in awe of my college professor Irving Sandler and had nothing but the utmost respect and reverence for him. He instilled in me a love and enthusiasm for American art that continues to influence my writing.

I was thinking about this today.  I miss the New York and Westchester County art scene.  I miss going to stuffy gallery openings where mostly everyone wears black and beige and are craning their necks to see who is walking in the door. I miss my beautiful, quiet country church with its beautiful Chagall and Matisse windows.  I miss the smell of bonfires and the golden glow on the Hudson River.  South Florida is nothing like this.

Surely, I am getting old, but that’s OK.  I’m glad I grew up as part of an art generation trained to analyze and dissect art in an intelligent and thoughtful manner.  I’m glad I learned reverence for artists.

When I think back on my college days, I remember being mesmerized by Irving Sandler as he paced back in forth in front of a large screen showing work by Jackson Pollack or Alex Katz.  (Here’s an interview with Sandler from 2008) He knew them both and when he spoke what came through was so much more than just his words – it was his enthusiasm, his respect and his own fascination with their work.  He’d get so excited that this one piece of gray hair on top of his head would alternately flop up and down in the air.

Sandler’s teaching always reminded me of a story my stepfather had told me.  He’d said that when Einstein taught he’d start writing on the blackboard and he’d get so excited that he’d keep writing on to the wall without hardly noticing.  There aren’t any critics or writers like Irving Sandler in Miami, but if he himself were here it’s likely he’d be very encouraging of the young artists that live and work here.  Perhaps if there were  a  Sandler here they wouldn’t be so quick to leave.

I don’t always understand the Miami art scene.  I don’t understand why gallery openings here have to include DJs spinning annoying techno-pop, extra-curricular activities and belly dancers.  Sometimes, with a few exceptions, it seems more like a zoo than an art scene.  To me, it doesn’t often seem to be about the art or the artist.

Perhaps that’s why art hasn’t taken hold here the way it has in New York and L.A. in the sense that major collectors don’t come here to shop.  We don’t have enough gallerists like Brook Dorsch or Frederic Snitzer.  What Miami needs most is intelligence.  Substance over style.

Sometimes, I honestly think: what the fuck am I doing here?  You can take the New Yorker out of New York, but you can’t take New York out of the New Yorker.


Written by Jenifer Mangione Vogt

August 16, 2012 at 5:26 pm

2 Responses

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  1. I love this!!!

    Also, as to Miami – Oh, Yes!


    Elle Schorr

    August 17, 2012 at 2:03 am

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