This is Picasso’s Brain on Drugs

Picasso after his morning coffee.

Another cup and a bong hit.


A second bong hit and a psilocybin mushroom.


A third cup of coffee and a tab of LSD.


Admittedly, that last one looks like a big glop of plaster. But if you look at the progression, you can kind-of/sort-of see where he was going with this. He kept pushing the boundaries until the form was contorted beyond recognition. He  did that with paint, too. I can’t say I like that last one, but it gives me a warm glow to have a vague understanding of it.

These are courtesy of the Museum of Modern Art’s landmark and smartly-installed Picasso sculpture exhibit. It’s being hailed as the last time you’ll see such a complete gathering of his sculptures under one roof. I didn’t understand a lot of it, but it was a thrill.

More tales of women in my past.


June 25, 1995

I didn’t make an entry last night because I was out all night with Maureen. I had planned on going home to watch the Yankees beat-up the Indians. I asked her out for a beer and it turned into an all-nighter. It was fun. She and I talk so easy. I wish I were attracted to her and that she had some social graces. She’s yet another tormented, temperamental artist. This town is choking on them. Their torment is so tedious. I thank God that I’m not cursed with talent. It seems to drive some folks over the edge. We made out once and it was kind of a disaster so now I keep a respectful distance.

Sedaris’ book is out in paperback and is doing well. See that. Sometimes the good guys win.

I met an interesting girl at the Gilberto Gil concert in Central Park. She was a pretty, blonde green-eyed French girl who lives in Toronto. She had a soft accent and a gentle, wispy air to her. She works for the largest French bank on the planet in their Toronto office. She grew up in rural France and was given the choice of transferring to either Jakarta or Canada. She didn’t want to live in a Muslim country so Canada won the contest. Smart girl. She visits New York every few weeks to see her boyfriend who’s an Analyst at Lehman Brothers.

(The Indians are on the radio in the background having their asses handed to them by the Yankees. Good God, will this torment ever end?) [Note: Apparently, not.]

Anyway, her boyfriend had to work, which is what all Financial Analysts do on Sunday, so she was by herself. Her work life is similar to his. She’s routinely in the office until 8:00 or 9:00 at night. Young professionals sacrificing their today for a better tomorrow. They hope. I didn’t feel like flirting because of the insurmountable odds, which was actually kind of liberating. Talking to a girl without having an agenda is always a pleasure.

She’s got a hell of a gene pool. Her sister is in Vietnam conducting a study on how the jungle is being affected by the developing nation. Her sister’s boyfriend is so in love with her that he quit his job in France and followed her to Vietnam. Isn’t that romantic? She complained for a while about how dull Toronto is and how much she loves New York. I know how you feel, sister. She said she can see the Empire State and the Chrysler Building from her boyfriend’s bathroom window, so she leaves the curtain open and looks at them while taking a shower.

Typically, I would’ve been torn to pieces with envy over all this but I was strangely serene. We were sitting on a bench and a couple across the way started making out. It was like watching a softcore porn movie or an instructional video on sexual assault. We watched with a detached fascination. We decided they’d just started dating and were in that phase when you can’t keep your hands off of each other. It wears off sooner or later but it’s nice when you’re in that space.

When we spoke, she looked at me hard, like there were some things running through her mind, but I swear she wasn’t interested in that way. I could tell. I made her laugh a bit and when it came time for her to go I didn’t say or do anything stupid, like follow her out of the park or try to kiss her. This is progress. She had to catch a plane back to Toronto, so she left and that was that.

I go to these Central Park Summerstage concerts exactly once a year. I’ll go to one early in the season, realize how miserably crowded they are and swear off them until next season. I made an exception in this case because Gilberto Gil doesn’t tour this way very often. And it was free.

Come to New York and live like a caged animal.


I called to check the price (because I had to) and you can rent a 360 sq. ft. micro-apartment for $2,750/month.

27th Street IS a fabulous block, so you have to take that into consideration (along with the imminent loss of your sanity).

Art + Commerce = The Fall Auction Report

I look forward to these semi-annual auctions with a near mania. I find this stuff endlessly fascinating. What is art? Every time I go to the autumn and spring auction previews at Christie’s and Sotheby’s, I am forced to reexamine what I think art is and isn’t. It’s good to be nimble in your thinking. It’ll keep you young.

Keep in mind that after the auctions, these pieces pass into private collections never to be seen again. I’ll mix the sublime with the hideous. I welcome your debate and disagreement. You can click on these for detail.

I’ll start off with a genuine treasure. Even though some people find the Impressionists pedestrian, I think we can all agree that their work is important and deserves respect. And, seriously, who wouldn’t want a Monet in their dining room?

Claude Monet
Estimate: $30,000,000 – $50,000,000
Sold for $33,850,000


I was not a fan of Cubism until just a couple of years ago when I had it explained to me via an audio guide at a Cubism exhibit at the Met. Now I enjoy it. Always get the audio guide.

Georges Braque
Le Violon
Estimate: $12,000,000 – $18,000,000
Sold for $8,202,000


Do you know what I love about this piece? One of the materials Braque used was sand. It gives the piece a fantastic earthy quality.


Here’s another guy who people pay a lot of cash for but is considered to be marginally talented by others. Margaret Thatcher called him “that horrible man.” That’s good enough for me. I like him.

Francis Bacon
Man With Arm Raised
Estimate: $8,000,000 – $12,000,000
Sold for $10,330,000


This one is my favorite. It’s the perfect case-in-point for just how pretentious art can get. The auction catalog uses flowery language like “a shimmering arrangement of color” and “rivers of shimmering, sparkly color.”


This is part of the artist’s “spilled candy” series. I’ve included the lot description in the estimate.

Felix Gonzalez-Torres
Untitled (LA)
Green candies individually wrapped in cellophane, endless supply. Overall dimensions vary with installation.
Estimate: $5,000,000 – $7,000,000
Sold for $7,669,000


Here’s a double header. I like both of these guys but am surprised at the valuation on the Warhol. Do you know how many of those flower silk screens he did? TONS! And I love Oldenburg’s work. I’ll bet a lot of you young punks have never seen one of those typing erasers. Now we use a delete key. I love how this photo turned out.

Andy Warhol
Late Four-Foot Flowers
Estimate: $8,000,000 – $12,000,000
Did Not Sell

Claes Oldenburg
Typewriter Eraser
Estimate: $500,000 – $700,000
Sold for $1,085,000


They made a big deal out of this piece. It was mounted in a prominent place in the gallery and the estimate wasn’t made public. I have no idea who this is. Do you? I thought I knew quite a lot but it turns out I don’t know SQUAT. It’s big. You’d need a big wall to hang it on.

Lucio Fontana
Concetto Spaziale, La fine di Dio
Estimate on Request
Sold for $29,173,000


Mmmmmm. Bacon. They’re studies for portraits. Wouldn’t it be awesome if you met the subjects and their faces were actually all fucked-up like that?

Francis Bacon
Two Studies for Portrait
Estimate: $12,000,000 – $18,000,000
Did Not Sell

bacon_two studies

Here’s a nice break from all the silliness. I’m not saying it’s worth what it sold for—hell, NONE of these are worth what they sold for—but you can almost understand the point. This was one of the real blockbusters. I took a close-up and am using it as a screen saver on my phone. It’s thick and juicy.

Vincent Van Gogh
Paysage Sous un Ciel Mouvement
Estimate: $50,000,000 – $70,000,000
Sold for $54,010,000

van gogh

Just look at her. Isn’t she spectacular? Her erotic submissive pose knocks me out. This was painted in 1917. Don’t you imagine people back then being reserved and sedate? Not everyone, apparently.

Amedeo Modigliani
Nu Couché
Estimate on Request
Sold for a Whopping $170,405,000

modigliani_nu coche

Like Jeff Koons, my feelings about Lichtenstein have vacillated throughout the years. Today, I like him. Next year? Check back with me. This nurse painting is considered a high point in his career.

Roy Lichtenstein
Estimate on Request
Sold for $95,365,000


Here’s a abject lesson in limitation and availability. Contrast the price realized for Nurse with this one.

Roy Lichtenstein
Crying Girl
Estimate: $7,000,000 – $9,000,000
Sold for $13,381,000

lichtenstein_crying girl

Both works were executed in 1964. The difference is that Crying Girl is the fourth in an edition of five. There’s only one Nurse. From a purely aesthetic standpoint, I’d much rather hang Crying Girl.

Do you know how some people say contemporary art is garbage? From the lot description:

“Accumulation of studio refuse in Plexiglas box with lid.”

Ah! WITH the lid! That explains it. Poubelle is French for trash bin.

Grande Poubelle
Estimate: $100,000 – $150,000
Did Not Sell. Perhaps there’s hope for the art world after all.


There were some pretty decent offerings by Picasso. If he’s your guy, this was your big chance. This is the cliche Picasso style depicted when someone wants to make fun of his work. Years ago, my brother explained what Pablo was up to and that lesson stuck with me. I see it.

Pablo Picasso
Femme Assise sue une Chaise
Estimate: $25,000,000 – $35,000,000
Sold for $20,074,000


This is a harsh little Picasso. It’s awash in the colors and stylings of Picasso’s Spain. He looks like he’s sporting Orthadox Jewish Payot but I don’t think that was Pablo’s intent.

Pablo Picasso
Homme à l’épée
Estimate on Request
Sold for $22,565,000


Some art passes in and out of my favor (Koons, Lichtenstein, etc.). But I’ve never liked Cy Twombly. The auction catalog describes this mess as being “…charged with visceral energy, a deluge of hurried lines hurtles across the canvas…” which is an elegant way of saying scribbling. He used house paint, oil, crayon and pencil on canvas. It sucks.

Cy Twombly
Estimate: $15,000,000 – $20,000,000
Sold for 17,525,000


I think these two Lichtensteins look pretty awesome together so I put in a bid for $400 for the pair. You can imagine how that went over.

Roy Lichtenstein
Interior with Yves Klein Sculpture
Estimate: $7,000,000 – $10,000,000
Sold for $6,661,000

Roy Lichtenstein
Glass V
Estimate: $1,800,000 – $2,500,000
Sold for $2,853,000 (not $400)


I’ve got a couple more—some that’ll either make you laugh very hard, make you very angry, or make you weep—but I’m going to split this into two posts.

Let’s say someone was holding a gun to a puppy and you HAD to display one of these in your home. Which one? I’m going with that Modigliani but that’s probably the last time my mother-in-law would ever visit.

Dumping the cutlery drawer onto the kitchen floor

I really have nothing to say. What the hell is going on? What am I doing here?

Nature’s Way: Part 1

bird1 bird2bird3bird4bird5

Here’s how a typical New Jersey douchebag parks:


The problem isn’t with him. It’s me. This makes me far, far angrier than it should. Why do I care? Why am I in his world? He didn’t put me out. I got a parking spot. But I’m so involved that I stopped to take a photo. And posted it, no less! Thinking you’d all share in the outrage. That you all suffer the same illness that I do. I need H-E-L-P.

 Nature’s Way: Part 2

My in-laws place has a backyard that abuts the woods. A deer walked out of the woods alone and stood near the pool. It stood there for a long while. Longer than a deer usually stays in one spot. And they’re usually not alone. Then, bombs away! It gave birth! It was like dinner and a show. I’ve experienced two births up close and didn’t really feel the need to see another.

My father-in-law said that earlier in the week, another deer gave birth on the curb near the street. We have so decimated their natural habitat that they have taken to giving birth in backyards and streets. People curse them as a nuisance.


Art is Money: Supplemental

I promised Gibber I’d follow-up the previous art auction post with a couple by Picasso that didn’t make the final edit. He’s her “undying favourite,” proving, by that peculiar spelling tic, that you are not from these here parts.

Les Femmens d’Alger was painted in homage to his pal and competitor Matisse not long after Henri died. It’s considered one of the most important Picasso masterpieces still held in private hands. This version, Version O, is part of a 15-piece series and is considered to be the best of the bunch. It sold for a preposterous amount of money. It was bought anonymously and the art world has made great sport out of trying to figure out who owns it. It ain’t me, I can tell you that much. Or Gibber. Presumably.

Pablo Picasso
Les Femmens d’Alger (Version ‘O’)
Estimate on Request
Sold for $179,365,000


Picasso left his girlfriend for several weeks while she was pregnant. Boy, was she angry! He returned with an “I’m sorry” gift; an embroidered red peasant jacket, which she loved so much that he included it in this portrait of her. What?! You can’t see it! It’s right there in front of your face!

Pablo Picasso
Femme au Chignon Dans un Fauteuil
Estimate: $12,000,000-18,000,000
Sold for 29,930,000


Does anyone remember when Kobe Bryant got caught cheating on his wife? HER appeasement gift was a gigantic, 8-carat purple diamond ring worth $4,000,000. Some women sure know how to parlay their rage into a payoff. I like both paintings, by the way.

Hey, shitheel terrorists. Remember that big hole in the ground from 9/11? Look what we built in its place. It’s magnificent! And really tall. And you can’t get NEAR the memorial or observation deck without a reservation. It’s constantly packed. So much for people being too afraid.


Wall Decor for the 1%

It’s time for my semi-annual Modern and Impressionist art auction review. In the spring and fall I visit Christie’s gallery at Rockefeller Center to view the beautiful/horrible art up for auction. Thank Fog for pre-auction public viewings. These pieces are passing from one private collection to another. Once the auction is over, they’ll be squirreled away above a mantle in Beijing or Moscow or Dubai, never to be seen in public again. So you’ve got to look when you have the chance. Lets get right to it. I’ll start with the stuff I like and finish with the junk. As always, feel free to agree or disagree (if you must).

I dig Modigliani. I never tire of his hollow, empty eyes. If I could have anyone paint my portrait, I’d choose him. Jeune homme roux assis (1919).

modiglianiEst: $8,000,000-12,000,000. Sold for $17,637,000. Not bad.

This was one of the big-ticket paintings. Nymphéas by Monet (1907). One of his rare water lily paintings, it hung in the dining room of a reclusive heiress, unseen, for EIGHTY YEARS.

monet1Est: $25,000,000-35,000,000. Sold for $27,045,000

I dragged Daughter with me. We visited Christie’s before seeing a play starring her heartthrob, Daniel Radcliffe. That was the bait. She wanted to see Harry Potter on stage, I wanted to expose her to Martin McDonagh, my favorite contemporary Irish playwright, and show her some art. It was a fair exchange.


This is Jim Beam—J.B. Turner Train by Jeff Koons (1986). He’s nutty. In the good way. This is the same guy who made those giant balloon dog sculptures. This is made from stainless steel. It was mounted on a pedestal in the middle of a room with black walls. Bright lights beamed down on it. It was very shiny.

koonsEst: On Request. Oh, really?! Sold for $33,765,000

Portrait de femme (Dora Maar) by Picasso (1942). I tried to explain to Daughter how these are different views of the same woman. A composite. I don’t think she was buying my art-speak bullshit but you’ve got to try. The auction catalog said this was painted in one day. August 5, 1942.


Est: $25,000,000-35,000,000. Sold for $22,565,000

Tangotee by Ernst Kirchner (1919-21). I like this guy a lot. A good German expressionist painter. Kirchner is a recent discovery. I attended a Kirchner exhibit at the Guggenheim a couple of years ago and have been smitten ever since.

kirchnerEst: $1,000,000-1,500,000. Sold for $2,045,000

I’ve started to pay more attention to sculpture. This startling figure is Main crispee gauche avec figure implorante by Rodin (1907). Seems this woman is in peril. I wonder who the hand is supposed to be?


Est: $50,000-70,000. Sold for $50,000

Every auction has at least one fetching Rothko painting. Untitled (1952). I’d like this hanging on my wall at home. A lot of this stuff is nice to look at, but I couldn’t live with it. This piece would calm my ass down.

rothkoEst: On request. Egads! Not again!? Sold for $66,245,000

Three Studies for a Portrait of John Edwards by Francis Bacon (1984). Bacon is hot. [Ha. I did that on purpose.] Last fall, his triptych of Lucian Freud sold for $142,400,000, so now everyone who owns a Bacon thinks it’s a good time to sell. This is one of those pieces I love to look at but couldn’t live with.


Here’s a detail of the third painting.

Est: On Request. It’s an epidemic! Sold for $80,805,000. That’s a lot.

There’s always a healthy representation of Warhol. This is Race Riot (1964). It’s considered one of his more important works because of its serious subject matter. No celebrity glitz or transsexual fun here. Just a group of Birmingham cops setting the dogs lose on a lone black man. Red, white and blue. Same as old glory.


Est: On Request. All these ‘estimate on request’ pieces are giving me an inferiority complex. I can’t even ask what it costs?! The last thing I need is a new benchmark for my own mediocrity. Sold for $62,885,000.

From the left, Chagall’s La Fenêtre ($3,133,000), Miró’s L’étoile insaisissable ($3,637,000) and Léger’s Grande nature morte ($2,165,000). Daughter in the middle: priceless.

sam2Are you guys ready for some crap? Or, perhaps you feel you’ve already seen some. No matter. Onward. This is the stuff that makes me laugh. Once again, here’s proof positive that wealth is a lousy barometer for good taste. Hang in there for the shocking conclusion.

I’m going to try—like I do at every auction, year after year—to appreciate Jean-Michael Basquiat’s work. I’m going to wipe the slate clean reject all my preconceived notions, take a step back and study this. I’ll give it serious consideration. Untitled (1981).

basquiat2Est: $20,000,000-30,000,000. Sold for $34,885,000. Nope. Didn’t work. It’s still CRAP.

Untitled (1964) by Cy Twombly. Signed and dated ‘Cy Twombly 64’ lower center. WHERE?! I don’t see it.Oh…wait…I think I see a ‘4’. It’s crap.

twomblyEst: $5,000,000-7,000,000. Sold for $7,445,000

Gerhard Richter’s Abstraktes Bild (712) (1990). Oh, how I hate Richter’s work. The very first time I laid eyes one of his paintings I hated it. And I don’t like this one, either. It’s lazy slop without any rhythm or emotion. I don’t understand it. I don’t want to understand it.

richterEst: $22,000,000-28,000,000. Sold for $29,285,000

Here it is, brothers and sisters. The one you’ve been waiting for. The worst of the worst. And that’s saying something. This is The Silent Sink (1984) by Robert Gober. The medium is plaster, wire, wood and semi-gloss enamel paint. It’s a sink. A fucking sink.

sinkEst: $2,000,000-3,000,000. Sold for $4,197,000. I have no witticisms for this. It makes me kind of sad, actually. It seems you can get to a point where you have so much money that you lose touch with reality. Four million. Give me a break. Thank God they didn’t give any of that money to poor people. They’d have just wasted it on stupid stuff, like food or housing.