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Hudson, NY. 12534

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Richard Merkin

Richard Merkin:  Statement

 

 

‘Art strives for form and hopes for beauty.’

George Bellows

 

‘Motherwell paints like a guy who knows what to tip the headwaiter.’

Anonymous colleague

 

‘It is the process of painting which is repellent; to force from little tubes of lead a glutinous flamboyance and to defile with the hair of a camel therein steeped, taut canvas is hardly the diversion of a gentleman.’

Max Beerbohm

 

‘By the way, those one-color boys have sure got me down. They contemplate their optical illusions as if they were Pure Being but all I can see is a…corporate symbol. Occasionally I talk shop with them but more often than not I demand an explanation.’

Justin Green

 

 

Notes towards an Explanation

 

Basically, the pictures that I have done in the recent past can be divided into two main groups:  those dominated by a single motivating factor, often of a more of less “documentary” nature and those that are compendia of varied associations from diffuse sources. A third category might seem to be suggested by the more eccentric pictures and perhaps a number of the assemblages and objects but more often than not I find that these have much in common with the latter form. The pictures then are executed in cycles and although they cannot in any sense be termed polarities, they do constitute a kind of balance in my program.

 

With rare exception I work on a single picture until it is complete. In the past few years I have found the pictures taking longer to do than they did four or five years ago. I am also aware of the fact that the more recent work has a sense of formality that is insinuated rather acutely. I find this somewhat curious because if anything my attitude towards the proprieties inherent in the act of painting (as see them) has become more flexible. The seeming paradox however gives rise to the positive results: the expansion of the total pictorial potential tempered by an execution that has become firmer and more exacting creates incidents that did not appear in the older pictures.

 

I believe in an art that is pertinent and one that is in a sense “employed” to use the phrase of a colleague. I naturally believe in a full art, a rich art and one that touches on as many levels as possible. There is no doubt that “art is a private matter”, as Tzara has said, but in so far as I am concerned this does not present an unsurmountable obstacle to the production of a picture that strives to be relevant. I have no interest in the multitudes of meager triumphs that abound. Like Rex Reed or those ghastly Norwegian wooden shoes that so many otherwise attractive young ladies insist upon dragging around, they are simply segments of my environment.

I have never made pictures that are to be solved like riddles nor deciphered like puzzles. I do not make pictures that are about anything except themselves. My selection of elements would, if traced, tell something about me but in the end, the effectiveness of any picture is dependent upon its organization and the associations that it can give rise to – what the picture is and what it stands for. I have no interest in nostalgia nor in a readily translatable language of symbols. I believe in the utilization of anything proper to make poetry. I use, both directly and obliquely, books, magazines, photographs, newspapers and printed ephemera of every nature. I find myself involved with the concept of history, research and journalism as material for the making of pictures. I select and work from and arrange to make a new totality that is itself. R. B. Kitaj’s remark about using books as a landscape painter would use trees is lyrical and it is accurate.

 

I cannot see anything wrong with knowing what to tip the headwaiter. I believe implicitly in proprieties and in the knowledge of those things one should not do, and I look upon restraint as as valuable an instrument as impulse and spontaneity. While the statement by Max Beerbohm on painting as an unsuitable activity for gentlemen may be somewhat extreme, it does serve to lay a good foundation for reticence as equipment. More to the point though is Sir Max’s comment upon the attire of Beau Brommell, “free from folly or affectation, yet susceptible to exquisite ordering, plastic, austere, economical” – and, as James Laver correctly adds, beautiful. It is somewhat remarkable to compare this description of the epitome of 19th century male costume with a synopsis of art by the Columbus, Ohio strongboy who painted a Stag at Sharkey’s – “Art strives for form and hopes for beauty.”

 

In conclusion,  I have used whatever I felt proper and necessary to make the best and the most beautiful pictures that I possibly could and that, as the actress said to the bishop, would seem to be all for the moment.

 

  Note:  Richard Merkin passed away October 2009.  We truly miss him.

 

 



click on image for an enlargement, price, size and medium.

Tempera Paintings from the 70's

Additional Tempera Paintings

Large oil on canvas paintings

Additional Large Paintings


(Shades of) The Yellow Kid, 1995

Advice to a Young Artist, 1987

Black Freighter #1, unknown

Brooklyn in the Fifties: 29th Street Tigers, unknown

Crepuscule with Jean: St.Thelonius at the Five Spot, 1999

Good-Bye to All That (Max's Kansas City), 1998

Harrasser (work place) , 1995

Joe and Paul Merkin, 2003

Madonna of the Sleeping Car, unknown

Radical Feminist, 1995

Schmiel Meier (For Anthony and Douglas), 1989

Spiegelman in Wonderland, 1998

Taormina or Saltimbanque and His Family (after Picasso), 1999

The Archivist , 1993-5

The Black Freighter #2, unknown

The Burial of Zip, the What Is It?, 1997

The Cigarist, 2000

The Cricket Match, After Boitard, 1995

The Dream Detective, 1988

The Dream Detective #2, 1989-1990

The Edwardian, 1985

The Garage: David Fowler on Thayer Street, 2000

The House of the Two Mysterious Blondes in Their Early 20's, 1995

The Madonna of the Sleeping Cars

The Man Who Photographed the World, 1998

The Minstrels, 2007

The Night Life of the Soul, 2000

The Outermost House (Capybara), 1995

The Port of Last Resort: Broken Blossoms, 2000

The Press Box, Tad and Herriman, 1999

Untitled (centaur), unknown

Untitled (Chinatown), unknown

Untitled (Lillith), c. 1995

Untitled (man in safari dress), unknown

Untitled (men with guns), 1997

Untitled (smoking rabbit), c.1998

Untitled (Stripper), date unknown

Untitled (two blonde children), unknown

Untitled (woman with LOVE pin), unknown

Puck in Portland, 2000

The Other Alice or Birmingham, 1986

The Port of Last Resort, 2000

The Madonna of the Sleeping Cars III, 2001

Better Days, 1991

The Aztec Child, framed, c. 1980 - 2000

Small Framed Paintings

Notorious People:Works on Paper

Theatre:Works on Paper


358 Kurt Ollman and Lorraine Hunt in Ashoka's Dream, c.1980-2008

(065) Erik Jensen in Y2K, c.1980 - 2000

(067) Sinead Cusak , c.1980 - 2000

(096) Ralph Richardson , c.1980 - 2000

(121) The Women by Claire Boothe Luce, c.1980 - 2000

(126) John Lithgow, c. 1980 - 2000

(132) Girlie Show, c.1980 - 2000

(143) Faith Prince, Mark Waldrop, Jason Workman, c.1980 - 2000

(144) Faith Prince, c.1980 - 2000

(145) Lynn Redgrave, c.1980 - 2000

(147) Hugh Jackman, c.1980 - 2000

(150) Michael Jeter in GRAND HOTEL, 1990

(151) WHAT THE BUTLER SAW, 1989

(154) Nell Campbell, c.1980 - 2000

(155) Study for Nell, c.1980 - 2000

(183) Cleavon Little in ALL GOD's DANGERS, 1989

(184) Mia Dillon, Bethel Leslie, Ann Wedgeworth, c.1980 - 2000

(185) Avery Brooks as Paul Robinson, c.1980 - 2000

(262) Judy Parfitt and Mathew Broderick, c.1980 - 2000

(266) The Crucible, c.1980-2008

(274) Emily Skinner and Alice Ripley, c.1980 - 2000

(277) Gorges Feydeau's A FLEA IN HER EAR, c.1980 - 2000

(278) Peter Falk, Erica Bradshaw, and Anne Jackson, c.1980 - 2000

(280) George S. Kaufman, c.1980 - 2000

(281) Ring Lardner, c.1980 - 2000

(307) Jeff Lyons in FORBIDDEN BROADWAY, c.1980- 2000

(319) Larry Parks as Al Jolson, c.1980- 2000

(432) Bill Irwin, c. 1980 - 2006

361 Judd Hirsh, Dov Tiefenbach, Marin Hinkle in A Thousand Clowns, c.1980-2008

379 Lenny Bruce, c.1980 - 2000

482 Alec Baldwin, Mary-Louise Parker, Bernard Huges in Prelude for a Kiss, c. 1980 - 2006

483 Todd Robbins in Carnival Knowledge, c. 1980 - 2006

Brian Mitchell and Angela Teek in OH KAY, c.1980 - 2000

Untitled 028 Vernel Bagneris (Further Mo), c. 1980 - 2000

Untitled 292 (Kali Rocha and Chris Stafford in Goodnight Children Everywhere, c.1980-2008

Untitled 294 (Marian Seldes, Donal Donnelly in Dear Liar) , c.1980-2008

Untitled 298 (Ron Rifkin as Henry Dennett with Daniel Davis in Wrong Mountain), c.1980-2008

Untitled 328 (Jason Robards in Park Your Car in Harvard Yard), c.1980-2008

Untitled 329 (Moss Hart), c.1980-2008

Untitled 337 (Georges Feydeau), c.1980-2008

Untitled 340 (Charles Dutton and Whoopi Goldberg in Ma Rainey's Black Bottom), c.1980-2008

Untitled 341 (Michael Learned and Rosemary Harris in All Over), c.1980-2008

Untitled 350 (Debrah Findlay, Anthony Sher and Anna Chancellor in Stanley), c.1980-2008

Untitled 357 (Allison Janney, Frank Langella, Caroline Seymour in Present Laughter), c.1980-2008

Untitled 365 (Jason Robards and Blythe Danner in Pinter's Moonlight), c.1980-2008

Untitled 372 (George C. Wolfe), c.1980-2008

Untitled 373 (RIP Cats the Musical), c.1980-2008

Sharon McNight, 2003

Artists: Works on Paper

Literature and Publishing: Works on Paper


(021) Diane di Prima, c. 1980 - 2000

(323) Chris Curry, c.1980-2008

(517) General Art Books Robert K. Brown, c.1980 - 1990

(019) Henry Miller, c.1998-2000

(023) Marquis de Sade, c. 1980 - 2000

(047) Chris Curry , c.1980 - 2000

(050) William Burroughs, c. 1980 - 2000

(061) Graham Greene, c.1980-2008

(083) Roger Straus, c. 1980 - 2000

(123) Katharine S. White's Dachsund, c.1980 - 2000

(186) Ralph Waldo Ellison, c.1980 - 2000

(189) Harold Brodkey, c.1980 - 2000

(203) Zora Neale Hurston, c.1980 - 2000

(214) Norman Mailer, The Executioner's Song, 1980

(232) Dashiell Hammett, c1992-93

(247) A. J. Liebling, c.1980 - 2000

(250) John Cheever: GOODBYE MY BROTHER, c.1980 - 2000

(251) James Baldwin, c.1980 - 2000

(259) Chester Himes, c.1980 - 2000

(272) Henry Miller, c.1980 - 2000

(293) Edmund Wilson, c.1980-2008

(300) Paul Bowles in Tangiers, c.1980-2008

(311) Alfred Knopf, c.1980-2008

(385) Arthur Rimbaud (White), c.1980-2008

(386) Arthur Rimbaud after a drawing by Paul Verlaine, c.1980-2008

(393) Arthur Rimbaud in his bed in Brussels, c. 1980 - 2000

(394) Arthur Rimbaud (purple), c. 1980 - 2000

(406) Flannery O'Connor, c. 1980 - 2000

(408) Oscar Wilde, c. 1980 - 2000

(410) Susan Sontag, c. 1980 - 2000

(416) Malcolm Lowry, c. 1980 - 2000

(444)F. Scott Fitzgerald, c. 1980 - 2006

(445) Jean Cocteau, c. 1980 - 2006

(518) Robert K. Brown Art Books, c.1980 - 1990

(539) Richard Brautigan, c. 1980 - 2006

(540) Djuna Barnes, c. 1980 - 2006

(541) Nuruddin Farab, c.1980 - 2000

285) John Dos Passos, c.1980-2008

325) Arthur Rimbaud, c.1980-2008

345) Arthur Rimbaud in Africa, c.1980-2008

370) Anne Hollander, c.1980-2008

Carson McCullers, 2005
Sold

Dylan Thomas au Jardin , 2003

Hans Christian Anderson, 2004

Untitled 297 (Life of Galileo by Brecht), c.1980-2008

Untitled 359 (Jane Bowles), c.1980-2008

A Portrait of Harry Crosby, 1994

Nathaniel West, 2000

Eberhardt in Algeria, 2002
Sold

Isabelle Eberhardt in the Army Hospital, 2005

Vanity Fair: Tina Brown, c. 1980 - 2000

Skippy, 1988

Janet Flanner in Paris 1927, c. 1980 - 2000

Andy Gump, 1988

A Portrait of Joan Didion, 2002

Film: Works on Paper


(360) The Exile, c.1980-2008

(038) Ernst Lubitsch, c.1980 - 2000

(060) David Brown, c. 1980 - 2000

(091) Nastassja Kinski , c.1980 - 2000

(092) José Ferrer as Talouse Latrec, c.1980 - 2000

(111) Kenji Mizoguchi, c.1980 - 2000

(112) William Wyler, c.1980 - 2000

(115) Peitro Germi's Seduced and Abandoned, c.1980 - 2000

(128) Judy Holliday, c.1980 - 2000

(139) Ellen Degeneres, c.1980 - 2000

(140) Michael O'Donoghue, 1994

(153) Ginger Rogers as Susan Applegate, 1988-92

(187) David Cronenburg, c.1980 - 2000

(210) Agentsaurus Rex, 1996

(213) Peter Bart and Jack Benny, c.1990 - 2000

(215) Marlon Brando, Ewa Aulin, and John Astin, c.1980 - 2000

(226) Orson Welles , c.1980 - 2000

(233) Steven Spielberg, c.1980 - 2000

(256) Chinatown , c.1980 - 2000

(275) Jane Fonda, c.1980-2008

(276) L.A. Confidential, 1997

(301) Preston Sturges, c.1980-2008

(310) DeNiro, Alexander, Russo in Rocky and Bullwinkle, c.1980-2008

(312) (Sapph-o Rama, Lesbian Cult Films) , c.1980-2008

(343) Carol Reed, c.1980-2008

(351) Claudia Cardinale, c. 1980 - 2000

(363) Mae Murray, c.1980-2008

(409) Groucho Marx, c. 1980 - 2000

(414) Frank Capra's Dirigible and Submarine, c. 1980 - 2000

(421) Klaus Kinski and Claudia Cardinale in Fitzcarraldo, c. 1980 - 2006

(422) Ingrid Bergman as Golda Meir, c. 1980 - 2006

(429) Peter Lorre in M, c. 1980 - 2006

(446) Elmo Lincoln as Tarzan, c. 1980 - 2006

(485) Development Hell, 1998

(487) Ron Howard and Brian Grazer, 1998

(488) John Travolta and Roman Polanski, 1998

(489) The Trouble with Agents, 1998

(490) Warren Beatty in Bugsy, 1998

(491) Joe Roth, 1998

(494) John Calley, 1998

(495) Charlie Chaplin and Sylvester Stallone, 1998

(496) Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum, c. 1980 - 2006

(530) Ronald Bass, c.1990 - 2011

(531) Building the Perfect Buzz (Mad Hatter's Tea Party), c. 1980 - 2006

(532) Ronald Bass, c. 1980 - 2006

(533) D W Griffith, c. 1980 - 2006

(534) Godzilla, Dean Devlin, Roland Emmerich, c. 1980 - 2006

(538) Francis Ford Coppola, c.1990 - 2000

Browning (Tod Browning), 1997

Harmonica Monday (Peter Lorre), 1990

Scorpio Rising: Tarzan and Queen La of Opar, unknown

Twiggy, 1980-84

D.W. Griffith, 2006

Music: Works on Paper


(002) Unknown, c. 1980

(097) Unknown, c.1980 - 2000

053 Marian McPartland, c. 1980 - 2000

( 122) Dave Frishberg att he Algonquin, c.1980 - 2000

(020) The Gumbo House , c. 1980-2000

(030) Gladys Bentley, c. 1980 - 2000

(034) Unknown, c. 1980 - 2000

(037) Unknown, c. 1980 - 2000

(058) Renee Rosnes, c. 1980 - 2000

(071) Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart, c. 1980 - 2000

(093) Unknown, c.1980 - 2000

(110) Iggy Pop and Tom Waits, 2003

(114) Meredith d'Abrosio, c.1980 - 2000

(116) Jon Hendricks and Annie Ross, c.1980 - 2000

(124) Tchaikovsky and Ellington side by side , c.1980 - 2000

(125) Steve Sterner plays to Buster Keaton, c.1980 - 2000

(130) Soubrette, c.1980 - 2000

(152) Carmen McRae at the Blue Note, 1989

(182) Nana Vasconcelos, c.1980 - 2000

(188) Unknown, c.1980 - 2000

(190) Randy Weston, c.1980 - 2000

(191) Joni MItchell, c.1980 - 2000

(206) Kid Creole and the Coconuts, c.1980 - 2000

(221) Unknown, c.1980 - 2000

(227) Unknown, c.1980 - 2000

(228) Unknown, 1980 - 2000

(258) Charles Mingus, c.1980 - 2000

(260) The Flying Neutrinos, c.1980 - 2000

(268) Barbara Cook, c.1980 - 2000

(282) Julie Wilson, c. 1980 - 2000

(283) Jimmy Scott, c.1980- 2000

(284) Bill Charlap, c.1980- 2000

(305) Billy Strayhorn, c.1980 - 2000

(306) Townes Van Zandt, c.1980- 2000

(314) Joann Brackeen, c.1980- 2000

(318) Dick Hyman, c.1980- 2000

(332) Firehose: George Hurly, Ed Crawford, Mike Watt, c.1980- 2000

(383) My Cousin Willie C., c. 1980 - 2000

(413) Benny Green, c. 1980 - 2000

(414) Geri Allen, c. 1980 - 2000

(440) Unknown, c. 1980 - 2006

(466) Bobby (Blue) Bland, c. 1980 - 2006

(467) The Holmes Brothers, c. 1980 - 2006

(475) Judy Carmichael and Michael Hashin, c. 1980 - 2006

(477) Five Guys named Moe, c. 1980 - 2006

(478) In Living Color, c. 1980 - 2006

(537) Edgar Bronfman Jr., Rupert Murdoch, and Sumner Redstone, c.1990 - 2011

Art Blakey (087), 1988-92

Barbara Carroll, c.1980 - 2000

Billy Joel (101), c.1980 - 2000

Boulez Ross (048), c.1980 - 2000

Dave McKenna, c.1980 - 2000

Doc Cheatham (090), unknown

John Cage (036), c.1980 - 2000

Max Roach (088), c.1980 - 2000

Terry Waldo (089), c.1980 - 2000

Tony Spargo in London, 1997

Untitled 040 Dave Frishberg, c. 1980 - 2000

Untitled 261 (Bette Midler), c.1980-2008

Untitled 279 (Large Guitar and Musicians), c.1980-2008

Untitled 288 (Betty Carter), c.1980-2008

Untitled 289 (Cyrus Chestnut), c.1980-2008

Untitled 290 (Joe Lovano), c.1980-2008

Untitled 291 (Pharoah Sanders), c.1980-2008

Untitled 295 (Pierre Boulez), c.1980-2008

Untitled 296 (Poul Ruders), c.1980-2008

Untitled 322 (Two Singers), c.1980-2008

Untitled 324 (Richard Tauber), .1980-2008

Untitled 330 (Darius Milhaud), c.1980-2008

Untitled 331 (Arthur Schoenberg), c.1980-2008

Untitled 333 (Nancy Wilson), c.1980-2008

Untitled 334 (Vince Giordano), c.1980-2008

Untitled 335 (The Microscopic Septet), c.1980-2008

Untitled 339 (Leon Botstein), c.1980-2008

Untitled 342 (Birgit Nilsson), c.1980-2008

Untitled 356 (Smiling Man) , c.1980-2008

Untitled 366 (Blossom Dearie), c.1980-2008

Untitled 368 (Phoebe Legere), c.1980-2008

Untitled 371 (Steve Ross), c.1980-2008

Easy Street, 1982

Gladys Bentley in Harlem, 2003

Lil Green, 1972

Works on Paper


(008) Unknown, c.1980 - 2000

(004) Unknown, c.1980 - 2000

(006) Unknown, c.1980 - 2000

(045) Untitled, c.1980 - 2000

(054) Untitled, date unknown

(098) Study for Cigarette that Bears a Lipstick Trace, c.1980-2000

(099) Study for Cigarette that Bears a Lipstick Trace, c.1980-2000

(003) Uncle Sam with Dolphin , c. 1980-1990

(005) Fulton Fish Market , c.1980 - 2000

(007) Unknown, c. 1980 - 2000

(009) Unknown, c. 1980 - 2000

(010) Unknown, c. 1980 - 2000

(011) Unknown, c. 1980 - 2000

(015) Unknown , c. 1980 - 2000

(016) Unknown, c. 1980 - 2000

(017) Unknown, c. 1980 - 2000

(022) Untitled, c. 1980 - 2000

(025) Untitled , c. 1980 - 2000

(026) Unknown, c. 1980 - 2000

(027) Untitled, c. 1980 - 2000

(042) Unknown, c. 1980 - 2000

(043) Untitled, c. 1980 - 2000

(046) Unknown, c. 1980 - 2000

(049) Unknown, c. 1980 - 2000

(052) Untitled, date unknown

(055) Untitled , c. 1980 - 2000

(056) Untitled, c.1980-2008

(060) Unknown, c.1980-2008

(066) Schoolboy with Cow, c. 1980 - 2000

(069) Glenn Loury, c.1980 - 2000

(070) Unknown, c. 1980 - 2000

(075) Stalking the Everyday Classics, c. 1980 - 2000

(079) The Bad and The Beautiful, c. 1980 - 2000

(095) Study for Fritz in Hollywood , c.1980 - 2000

(103) Unknown, c.1980 - 2000

(105) Tea Time, c.1980 - 2000

(108) Munchen, c.1980 - 2000

(113) Unknown, c.1980 - 2000

(117) Unknown, c.1980 - 2000

(118) Untitled, c. 1980 - 2000
Sold

(120) Unknown, c.1980 - 2000

(129) Unknown, c.1980-2008

(137) Unknown (Accessories), c.1980 - 2000

(138) Unknown, c.1980 - 2000

(156) Portrait of my Grandmother, 1960

(157) Portrait of a Young Man, 1960

(159) Untitled, 1960

(165) Portrait of Mrs. P. Newgrow, 1960

(192) Unknown, c.1980 - 2000

(194) Unknown, c.1980 - 2000

(195) Unknown, c.1980 - 2000

(197) Unknown, c.1980 - 2000

(198) Unknown, c.1980 - 2000

(200) Unknown, c.1980 - 2000

(201) Unknown, c.1980 - 2000

(202) Viky, c.1980 - 2000

(205) Study for Orfeus and Euridice, c.1980 - 2000

(216) Unknown, c.1980 - 2000

(217) Unknown (Abstaction), c.1980 - 2000

(218) Unknown, c.1980 - 2000

(219) Unknown (Stairwell), c.1980 - 2000

(222) Unknown, c.1980 - 2000

(223) Unknown, c.1980 - 2000

(224) Unknown, c.1980 - 2000

(225) Unknown, c.1980- 2000

(229) Unknown, c.1980 - 2000

(230) Unknown, c.1980 - 2000

(231) Unknown, 1980 - 2000

(234) Broadway Wrecking Company, c.1980 - 2000

(235) Unknown, c.1980 - 2000

(236) Unknown, c.1980- 2000

(237) Unknown, c.1980-2008

(239) Unknown, c.1980-2008

(240) Unknown, c.1980-2008

(242) To Mary Flo , c.1980 - 2000

(243) Unknown, c.1980-2008

(244) Unknown, c.1980 - 2000

(245) Unknown, c.1980-2008

(249) Pine Cone Road, c.1980 - 2000

(252) Untitled, c.1980-2008

(253) Unknown, c.1980-2008

(267) Unknown, c.1980-2008

(286) Unknown, c.1980-2008

(287) Untitled, c.1980-2008

(299) Untitled, c.1980-2008

(302) Unknown, c.1980-2008

(303) Untitled, c.1980-2008

(304) Unknown, c.1980-2008

(309) The Elephant Trainer, c.1980-2008

(380) Unknown, c. 1980 - 2000

(381) Unknown, c. 1980 - 2000

(382) Unknown, c. 1980 - 2000

(387) Unknown, c. 1980 - 2000

(389) Unknown, c. 1980 - 2000

(391) Unknown, c. 1980 - 2000

(392) Unknown, c. 1980 - 2000

(395) Unknown, c. 1980 - 2000

(396) Unknown, c. 1980 - 2000

(397) Unknown, c. 1980 - 2000

(398) Unknown, c. 1980 - 2000

(399) Unknown, c. 1980 - 2000

(403) Unknown, c. 1980 - 2000

(404) Unknown, c. 1980 - 2000

(407) Unknown, c. 1980 - 2000

(411) Homestead, c. 1980 - 2000

(412) Still-life, c. 1980 - 2000

(419) Unknown, c. 1980 - 2006

(420) Unknown, c. 1980 - 2006

(423) Unknown, c. 1980 - 2006

(424) Unknown, c. 1980 - 2006

(426) Unknown, c. 1980 - 2006
Sold

(428) Unknown, c. 1980 - 2006

(430) Unknown, c. 1980 - 2006

(431) Unknown, c. 1980 - 2006

(433) Unknown, c. 1980 - 2006

(435) Unknown, c. 1980 - 2006

(438) Unknown, c. 1980 - 2006

(441) Unknown, c. 1980 - 2006

(442) Unknown, c. 1980 - 2006

(443) Unknown, c. 1980 - 2006

(448) Unknown, c. 1980 - 2006

(449) Unknown, c. 1980 - 2006

(450) Unknown, c. 1980 - 2006

(452) Unknown, c. 1980 - 2006

(461) Unknown, c. 1980 - 2006

(462) Unknown, c. 1980 - 2006

(463) Unknown, c. 1980 - 2006

(464) Unknown, c. 1980 - 2006

(465) Unknown, c. 1980 - 2006

(481) Unknown, c. 1980 - 2006

(484) Unknown, c. 1980 - 2006

(493) Unknown, c. 1980 - 2006

(542) Unknown, c.1980 - 2000

The Princess of Ether #2, 1983

Untitled (Jack! What), unknown

Untitled 313 (Blvd Mark Clark), c.1980-2008

Untitled 321 (The Solomon Islands), c.1980-2008

Untitled 326 (Smiling Woman Holding Bible), c.1980-2008

Untitled 336 (Man with Many Lines), c.1980-2008

Untitled 344 (Three Flappers with Man), c.1980-2008

Untitled 353 (Dog with Man), c.1980-2008

Untitled 354 (In God We Trust All Others Pay Cash) , c.1980-2008

Untitled 362 (Swords to Ploughshares), c.1980-2008

Untitled 375 (Bride Series #1), c.1980-2008

Untitled 376 (Bride Series #2), c.1980-2008

Untitled 377 (Bride Series #3), c.1980 - 2008

Untitled 384 (Flood Scene), c.1980-2008

Untitled 541, c.1980-2008

Untitled 542, c.1980-2008

Broadway Nocturne in Cobalt, 1989

The Last of England, 1987-88

The Land of Sen-Sen, unknown

Peabody, 1984

Espana, c,2005

Untitled (man in brown jacket), c. 1980 - 2000

Untitled (woman in blue suit), c.2005

Pastorale #22, c. 1980 - 2000

Untitled (blue collar), unknown

Krazy Kat, 1988

Gambage, 1992

The Green Couch, 1981-3

A Boston Marriage, c. 1987

Doc's Leisure Time, 1981

The Last Colonialist, 1987-8

Baseball and Sports

Prints

Collages

Self Portriats

Paris de Nuit portfolio

Personal Photos

Resume

 

It is easy – and part of the stylish fun --to find numerous influences in a Richard Merkin drawing or painting, a fact befitting a man who proudly sported an old-world cosmopolitanism both in person and in his art and whose work was a steady feature of theVanity Fair/New Yorker magazine world of the 80s and 90s. Each Merkin endeavor is a veritable cabaret of illustration, at turns louche, comedic, expressionist and cubist, in styles reminiscent most frequently of  Grosz, Picasso, Leger, and Chagall. The cast of characters rendered in the current exhibition at Carrie Haddad Gallery “Richard Merkin on Literature and Film”—movie stars, directors, producers, writers, and other leading or fleeting lights of the last 150 years or so --are a café society made up of the 19th and 20thcentury’s most famous and infamous, both living and dead, each imbued with a modernist irony that originally conveys the amour fou, perversity and just plain silliness of modern- day celebrity. (One should be reminded that the “modern day” started not just in Hollywood but more specifically around the time of the drug- and- sex addled poet Rimbaud, his Arthur Rimbaud in His Bed in Brussels is one of the artist's most evocative renditions.) The look on the faces of his subjects may be Buster Keaton deadpan but, like  Keaton’s work itself,  the spirit behind it is almost cosmically, surrealistically antic.  
In nearly all of the pictures you can see the artist’s renowned mustache being twirled in a devilishly playful way. Take his portrait of a stone-faced D.W. Griffith, America’s great film pioneer, so obsessed with his (toward the end atavistic) artistic vision that he is almost completely unaware of the pink slip being delivered to him by a cruelly youthful studio hand.  In one of his best looking works, Studio: Cecil Beaton (1998), he completely abandons his own style to collage artifacts of the photographer/designer's life and work-- a commentary perhaps on the subject’s chicly handsome yet, in the end, rather superficial legacy. In Norman Mailer, The Executioner’s Song (1980) Merkin satirizes the pugilistic writer by placing him in Saul Steinberg’s famous landscape of the world from the viewpoint of a native New Yorker. 
   "With his Krazy Kat-stamped hand-rolled cigarettes, custom Vincent Nicolosu suits, bowler hat, and signature mustache, Richard was a connoissuer of the good life in New York City," says New Yorker art editor Chris Curry, who worked with Merkin throughout his twenty year career at the magazine. Merkin’s friend Tom Wolfe, describing his entire oeuvre, writes that "the typical Merkin picture takes legendary American images-from baseball, the movies, fashion, society, tabloid crime and scandal-and mixes them with his own autobiography, often with dream-style juxtapositions."  Merging his life as a flaneur with his role as painter and social historian, Merkin introduced retrospective cultural artifacts - a Turkish cigarette, a gangster, a bowler hat - and reconstitutes their Jazz Age virtues on canvas in cubist, comic-laced landscapes of tropical color.”
     “This desire to know and celebrate people and events that others find devoid of significance”, according to Barbara Dayer Gallati, “is a primary characteristic of Merkin’s art and the source of the irony that prevails within it. More often than not these esoteric fragments of “public” information reveal a taste for the bizarre or darker side of human existence, the sinister nature of which is relieved by the artist’s use of vibrant color and dynamic compositions.”
     Richard Merkin was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1938, and held degrees from Syracuse University and the Rhode Island School of Design. In 1962-63 he received a Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Fellowship in Painting and, in 1975, The Richard and Hinda Rosenthal Foundation Award from The National Institute of Arts and Letters.  Merkin began teaching at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) in 1963 and remained there for nearly 42 years. During this time, he built his reputation as a fine artist in New York City.  He is represented in the permanent collections of The Museum of Modern Art, The Smithsonian Institution and the Whitney Museum as well as many others.  Mr. Merkin had been a contributing editor for Vanity Fair from 1986 to 2008 and a regular contributor of illustrations to The New Yorker since 1988, as well as Harper’s and The New York Time’s Sunday Magazine. From 1988-1991 he wrote a monthly style column for Gentlemen’s Quarterly. In 1995, he illustrated the book, Leagues Apart: The Men and Times of the Negro Baseball Leagues, (by Larry Ritter). Merkin’s exhibitions in Hudson, New York began in 2000 at Kendall Art & Design, a gallery run by one of his former RISD students.  In 2002, he began exhibiting with Carrie Haddad Gallery, which continues to represent the Richard Merkin Estate.
  Merkin also appeared on the cover of the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album, (back row, right of center).  The artist died in 2009.

                                                                                                                                               by Scott Baldinger

 

 

RICHARD MERKIN

Richard Merkin’s work conjures up scenes that evoke the raucous spirit of the 1920’s, 30’s and 40’s. In his witty, often eccentric illustrations and paintings, Merkin depicts movie stars, jazz musicians, sports heroes and literary impresarios co-mingling with more personal references. In his highly stylized approach to the figure, Merkin privileges color relationships, balance and juxtaposition over strictly literal descriptions of his subjects.

Merging his role as flaneur (connoisseur of city life) with his role as painter and social historian, Merkin retrieves lost cultural artifacts-a Turkish cigarette, a gangster, a bowler and generally 'things most people don't know about'-and reconstitutes their Jazz Age virtues on canvas in cubist, comic-laced landscapes of tropical color.

 

“This desire to know and celebrate people and events that others find devoid of significance”, according to Barbara Dayer Gallati, ” is a primary characteristic of Merkin’s art and the source of the irony that prevails within it. More often than not these esoteric fragments of “public” information reveal a taste for the bizarre or darker side of human existence, the sinister nature of which is relieved by the artist’s use of vibrant color and dynamic compositions.”

In agreement, Tom Wolfe writes, "The typical Merkin picture takes legendary American images-from baseball, the movies, fashion, Society, tabloid crime and scandal-and mixes them with his own autobiography, often with dream-style juxtapositions."

Richard Merkin was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1938, and held degrees from Syracuse University and the Rhode Island School of Design. In 1962-63 he received a Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Fellowship in Painting and, in 1975, The Richard and Hinda Rosenthal Foundation Award from The National Institute of Arts and Letters.

Merkin also has the dubious distinction of appearing on the cover of the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album, (back row, right of center).

Merkin began teaching at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) in 1963 and remained there for nearly 42 years. During this time, he built his reputation as a fine artist in New York City.  He is represented in the permanent collections of The Museum of Modern Art, The Smithsonian Institution and the Whitney Museum as well as many others.  Mr. Merkin had been a Contributing Editor for Vanity Fair from 1986 to 2008 and a regular contributor of illustrations to The New Yorker since 1988, as well as Harper’s and The New York Time’s Sunday Magazine. From 1988-1991 he wrote a monthly style column for Gentlemen’s Quarterly. In 1995, he illustrated the book, Leagues Apart: The Men and Times of the Negro Baseball Leagues, (by Larry Ritter). He also wrote the text and captions for The Tijuana Bibles, (Simon & Schuster, 1997).

Merkin’s exhibitions in Hudson, NY began in 2000 at Kendall Art & Design, a gallery run by one of his former RISD students, Laura Battle.  In 2002, he began exhibiting with Carrie Haddad Gallery until he died in 2009.  Carrie Haddad Gallery currently represents the Richard Merkin Estate.

 

New Yorker News Desk

Posts by Chris Curry

September 9, 2009

Richard Merkin, 1938-2009

“I love you madly” is how Richard Merkin always signed off on the phone. Richard, whose paintings graced our pages for twenty years, died on Saturday. He was a life force, and he brought a smile to all who knew him. I was Richard’s editor, and when he phoned the office, the whole department knew it: you could actually hear his big, wonderful voice across the room.

Bobby Short whispered his name loudly when he entered the Carlyle; Richard bellowed back, “Hello, Bobby,” and charged over to deliver a hearty handshake. His passion for New York City was infectious. His love of jokes was a pleasure to all who knew him, even after the fourth telling. It was all in the delivery.

Richard loved and evoked the great spirit of the nineteen-twenties, thirties, and forties in his work. He created brilliant portraits on handmade paper, with handmade pastels, of everyone from Carmen McRae to Walter Winchell, along with several covers. (Here is a slide show of his work.) An avid reader of the magazine and a fan of Liebling, Arno, Thurber, and Angell, he drew inspiration from our pages and the magazine’s history. A lover of baseball, he illustrated “Leagues Apart: The Men and Times of the Negro Baseball Leagues.”

With his Krazy Kat-stamped hand-rolled cigarettes, custom Vincent Nicolosi suits, bowler hat, and signature mustache, Richard was a connoisseur of the good life in New York City. He was charming, and cared deeply for his many great friends, among them Tom Wolfe, Duncan Hannah, and a multitude of former students and fans from Rhode Island School of Design—not to mention the readers of this magazine.

We will miss him terribly, and continue to love him madly.

 

 

 

 

 


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