“Being an artist also made me realize that I wasn’t built for the type of loneliness that comes from art. Art is slow, physical, resistant, material-based, and involves an ongoing commitment to doing the same thing differently over and over again in the studio. As my wife, Roberta Smith, the co–chief art critic at the New York Times, has said many times, “Being a weekly critic is like performing live onstage.” Every week. I love and live for that jolt. Criticism involves constant change, drama, information coming in from the outside, processing it in the moment in front of everyone, always being in the here and now while also trying to access history and experience. H. L. Mencken is quoted, describing his own work, as saying it’s best when “it’s written in heat and printed at once.” That’s what I want, what I need, who I am. I have a tropism toward reaction.

I can’t only dance naked in private. I have to dance naked in public. A lot.”

“Wilde also wrote that “the vague is always repellent.” My work was “generic” and “impersonal” because of the 1970s post-minimal ways I was working. I wanted to transcend memories, achieve accessible complexity, and enter history from the side. Instead, my art might be able to produce flashes of beauty but couldn’t gain emotional traction; create depth, mystery; impart its secrets, ironies, drama, or cross the threshold of history. I was blinded by the rules I made.”

Jerry Saltz, “My Life As a Failed Artist,” Vulture, April 18, 2017, accessed April 19, 2017, http://www.vulture.com/2013/03/saltz-on-the-death-of-art-gallery-shows.html.

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