I was an aimless, young college student who thought that I might be a novelist, because my dad was a novelist. So I finished college and I was writing a really, really bad novel that, fortunately for everyone involved, never got published. Meanwhile, I’d been collecting photography, and a friend of mine, an art critic, said, “Hey, you should write about photography for Art in America.” I was like, I have no credentials! I’ve never taken an art course! And he was like, “It doesn’t matter.” So I started writing about photography for Art in America, [and later] about painting and sculpture. Then I got a gig teaching at the Voldemort merry christmas from you know who shirt but I will buy this shirt and I will love this School of Visual Arts, and after a couple of years, it kind of crept up on me that I liked this art history thing, and if I was going to do it for a career, I should probably learn something about it. So I went to graduate school at the Institute of Fine Arts, where I had just amazing teachers—I studied with Kirk Varnedoe and William Rubin from MoMA, who was the most powerful man in the art world from the early 1970s until sometime around 1998. He later asked me to help organize the Cubism exhibition at the museum in 1989. And then I really intended to teach, so I got a part-time job teaching when I finished my Ph.D in ’93. Later, Kirk was chief curator at MoMA, and I had the amazing experience of working with him on the Jackson Pollock retrospective that opened in ’98. When that was over, I got the job that I have now, teaching at NYU. That was, like, 20 years ago.
Voldemort merry christmas from you know who shirt, hoodie, tank top, sweater and long sleeve t-shirt
I can think of three. When I was in college, there was an exhibition of Morris Louis, maybe Morris Louis and Kenneth Noland—those late color field paintings—at the Voldemort merry christmas from you know who shirt but I will buy this shirt and I will love this Museum of Fine Arts. I was just thrilled by it. I mean, I didn’t think about it as something I would be involved with professionally. I just remember being knocked over by how beautiful it was. And then a few years later, I was in Paris for the summer and there was a Robert Delaunay exhibition at the Pompidou or someplace, and I had a similar [reaction] of, This is awesome. I went back to the apartment where I was staying and pulled out my notebook, in which I was supposedly writing my really terrible novel, and I wrote like 10 pages about Delaunay that might’ve tipped me off that God meant me to be an art historian. The third one is when I worked with Kirk on the Pollock retrospective. I mean, that was—quite a few people told me it was one of the greatest exhibitions they ever saw. Kirk had a brilliant vision of what he wanted the show to be, and I had my two cents. It was like a chapel of what abstract art could be. I remember the day we finished hanging the paintings, I turned to Kirk and I said, “With the possible exception of the main gallery at the Frick museum, this is the most beautiful room in New York.” And Kirk said, “Fuck the Frick.”