Who The Fuck Is Josh Smith?

Detail ImageJosh Smith, Untitled (2008), mixed media on panel, 60″ x 48″; courtesy Luhring Augustine Gallery

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The title for this post was my response upon learning, via a painter friend, that Josh Smith had been pegged as a U.S. representative for the upcoming Venice Biennale.

A cursory Google search revealed–now I remember! That guy who makes too many pictures; the guy who shows at Luhring Augustine, The New Museum, at venues that don’t have much truck with serious painting. An artist who cruises on diversion, speed and product. Yeah, right; been there, done that. Next!

A proud advocate of disposability, Smith explains that placing his “mannered style of graffiti” on non-archival materials:

“Takes the commodity out of art . . . it’s purely about looking, and to take pressure off the idea of art as object.”

No commodity fetishism for Smith even as he depends upon the largesse of billionaire art collector Peter Brant to keep it crankin’. Brant is so enamored of the work, as Carol Vogel told it in Friday’s New York Times, that he’s fêting Smith with a solo exhibition at his private museum in Greenwich, Connecticut.

God bless them both–Brant for his generosity, Smith for the happy turn of events. We should all be so fortunate. But no one should mistake all of the above for “purely about looking”.

© 2011 Mario Naves

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