I think Dylan’s paintings are good paintings. They’re workmanlike and they do their job. They’re not trying to be something they’re not. I’m not sure he’s even aware that there’s a style that can sit beside Arthur Dove, Charles Burchfield, John Marin, Charles Sheeler. The amount of paint is measured. And the color is always within a defined degree of browns, beiges, and yellows. There’s never any interruption in the way the surface is painted, and this is why I think they’re special. That’s hard to do. When you’re painting a whole scene, whether it’s a portrait or a boat going up the canal or a view outside your hotel window and you’re trying to get the trees to fuse into a path a man is walking on … it takes something that’s instinctive instead of learned. I looked at his painting of a Chinese farmer herding a big-horned cow and marveled at the breadth of the horns and the way the horns melted into the figure of the farmer. “Man,” I said, “that’s some strange cow.” That’s what I thought about D.H. Lawrence’s paintings. Different subject matter, but the same struggle to represent. Same amount of paint. Same palette. Same use of line to accent the contours of what’s real. If you don’t know D.H. Lawrence’s paintings, you should. It’s kind of hard to see them—a few are in an out-of-the-way hotel in New Mexico and a few are in Texas, but most of them are lost and any reproductions of them are pretty dull and underimagined.
more from Richard Prince at the NYRB here.