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May 10, 2008

Looking at the Milton Resnick show today in Chelsea.  “Wedding”.  I haven’t been moved by a painting like this in years.  Knocked over.  The sheer saturation of life, the endlessness of it.  The never-ending mix of pathos and joy.  The depth.  The physical, spatial sense of depth and the depth of spirit.  I thought of Titian, of the Pieta, not with its sense of sorrow, but with the overwhelming sense of life-force and presence.

We don’t make paintings like this anymore.  I’m trying in my way; but I have eyes I can see — I don’t even come close to beginning to come close — this is just staggering.  We don’t have the necessary belief anymore.  Where the hell have all the mystics gone?

De Kooning spoke about needing to be on the edge of something all the time or the painting just dies.  Resnick spoke of falling.  No edge — just falling.  De Kooning was a master painter, perhaps the greatest American painter of the twentieth century.  Resnick — as irascible as he was — Resnick was a mystic.  He took painting there.

And people would walk in to the room in the gallery and see this painting and I don’t know what they thought — maybe “oh, right, dense all-over color field painting, right.”  I’ve got no idea.  But they came, browsed and left — and I’m thinking, that’s it?  And it’s not about the appearance of the thing.  In a way, it’s almost incidental.  Yes, it’s through our eyes that we receive it, but it’s with our being that it resonates, that it hits and comforts and breaks and overwhelms.

How did he do that?



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