Philip Smith Not In Met

Much crying and rending of garments has resulted from artist Philip Smith's omission from the Metropolitan Museum of Art's "Pictures Generation" show. See Anaba and AFC for links to all the pro-Smith coverage. Many top critics excoriated Met curator Doug Eklund for excluding an artist who was part of the original "Pictures" show back in the '70s from his current survey. So far I haven't read anything like a statement that "Smith deviated so far from the 'Pictures' script in his subsequent work that he had to be excluded on doctrinal grounds"--it's all been a pity party for Smith and attacks on Eklund's selective scholarship. (I haven't read everything.)

Eklund's statement "I didn't respond to [Philip Smith's] work strongly enough to include it" sounds like a hedge. Surely something like this is closer to the truth: "The Pictures artists as we've come to understand them make tough and unsentimental work, but it's also very cool work that sits quietly on museum walls and in collector's homes (barring the occasional lapse such as Richard Prince's 'de Koonings'). For all the attention to building up paint layers in Smith's paintings, they are ultimately about his drawing, which is often 'uncool,' as in cartoony, New-Yorker-Magazine-wacky, occasionally cornball, and ultimately conventionally self-expressive. We can't have that in a show of Pictures artists, it totally blows the vibe of studied cool. It's not that I don't respond to it; I respond to it like hell; I want it out of my sight."

Smith's absence might do more to define what "Pictures" art is than the tendentious statements about individual works on the Met's website.

How "Pictures" art differs from mere Pop is question for another post.

Update: image comparison