Josh Smith In Recent Doc: ‘If You’re Making Paintings Then I Must Be A Sculptor’


Josh Smith.


Recently, an online documentary about the artist Josh Smith was released on the Internet. Captured mostly in Smith’s Bushwick studio and made by Max Fierst, the 20-minute piece covers the artist’s history with painting, sculpture, and publishing, focusing on the new body of work he created for his current show, titled “Sculpture,” up now at Luhring Augstine.

Smith, who has embarrassingly been called a “bad boy artist” by some people at some points in the past (there is no way for that term to not be embarrassing, unless you of course are talking about Puff Daddy), had a lot to say, including a couple of shots fired about the current state of painting.
On his new work:

“You could call them paintings, but they’re not paintings. They’re sculptures. They have to be sculptures.”

On his 2007 show “Abstraction”:

“I thought it was so funny, because everyone was painting like skeletons smoking cigarettes and representational paintings like monsters and stuff back then. So, I as a joke did a show called ‘Abstraction’ and just made abstract paintings, I just set up to make really good paintings that meant something to me in an abstract format.”

On the current glut of abstract painting:

“A lot of people who became painters, who now are painters and call themselves painters, and if you ask what they do say ‘painter,’ are sculptors at the very best. More likely they just like art. So now, in this show that’s coming up next week, I’m gonna call it ‘Sculpture’ because I figure, well, if you’re making paintings then I must be a sculptor.

“The idea that all these artists are making these colorful, sort of expressionistic abstract paintings, it’s hard to believe it’s going on right now, but it is, so I’m hoping that my white, like, sickly, falling-apart paintings will degrade the perfection that people have discovered.

“It’s like in a pool game, when all the balls are in one mass, and you just sacrifice your shot, just to break it up so the game’s more fun. So I’m going to show something here that’s, you know, it doesn’t have the sheen and gloss of an art-fair booth type of thing where its unequivocally like a sublime object. I hope to present something here that clearly has some problems and some issues.”

“Sculpture” is up until October 31 at Luhring Augstine. Watch the documentary in full below.

ABOVE Josh Smith: Sculpture from Max Fierst on Vimeo.

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