Andrew Masullo: I don’t believe in agendas

 Andrew Masullo, “5149,” 2009�10; oil paint on canvas; 10 x 8� 
Andrew Masullo, “5242,” 2010; oil paint on canvas; 9 x 12� 
Andrew Masullo, “5244,” 2010; oil paint on canvas; 22 x 28� $10,000

The opening reception on The James Kalm Report

“If Andrew Masullo�s truculent, hard-won but nonetheless joyful paintings can be said to involve a family of forms � and they can � you could also say that many of its members appear to be adopted. His paintings� familial resemblances reside foremost in size (small), surface (matte, brushy), color (saturated), edges (hard, but unruled) and spatial illusion (not much).” —Roberta Smith 

An Interview:

Do you paint every day?

Do you miss it when you don’t?

Are there colors you don’t like or colors you find hard to use?
That’s not my kind of question.

How do you decide on the size of a painting, especially the smaller ones?
Have you noticed that painters with little to say often choose the largest canvases on which to say it?

What comes to you first, color or shape?
The egg.

There’s the idea that a painter is always painting the same painting; do you agree?
If it’s who I think you mean, I agree.

I think of you as a king of composition, where do all your ideas come from, you explore so many possibilities?
It’s trial and error, making mistakes and figuring things out along the way. I make no preparations to start a painting and have no clue where I’ll wind up. It sometimes takes months before I even know which end points north.

Do some paintings get tossed or do they hang out in the studio until they are resolved? what’s the longest amount of time it’s taken to resolve a problem painting?
No paintings get tossed. At any given time you’ll find twenty or thirty of them sitting around my place in various states of undress. Some paintings are finished in a few months, others may take a few years — several in the current show took over ten years (this may be more interesting than it is important).

Are your paintings purposefully pushy?
I don’t believe in agendas.

What about deceptive — to me they look like TV but read like film?
The more one gives to a painting the more one receives.

What are some of the reasons you prefer abstraction over representation?
I don’t make abstract paintings and my favorite artist is Florine Stettheimer — perhaps this is one of those trick questions?

Why hard edges and not soft? i noticed in one particular, new smaller painting a softer ezier paint application?
It’s not my place to say.

Do you still make your word collages, that’s the first stuff I saw of yours, international with monument back in the mid 80s? When and why did you switch to painting?
Once in a great while I’ll break out the scissors and glue and make myself a new collage (for the record, the International With Monument show was in 1983, a few years before the word collages began). And I never switched to painting! I made hundreds of paintings throughout the 1980s (as well as hundreds of other items from books and photos and thrift shops finds). My work was often autobiographical, ranging from slapstick to the lugubrious. Eventually I grew tired of the circus and by the early ’90s dismantled it all. All except for painting. But this time the paintings would have nothing specific to rely on: no preconceived ideas, no personal or outside references, no pictorial imagery, no words, no numbering systems, no theories, no agendas, and no gimmicks. I’ve done my best to work this way ever since.

Andrew Masullo: Recent Paintings,” Feature Inc. New York, NY. Through December 5, 2010.


  1. Since everyone seems to be covering this guy and giving him great press, I feel the need to ask why? What's so great about the work, because I'm not seeing it. Masullo reads like a second rate Mary Heilmann, plus he doesn't even seem to know that non-objective art falls under the umbrella of abstract art. He's far too smug and cocky for teh work that he's pimpin'. He should be ashamed that some of these paintings took him several years to resolve. But, hey if people like him that's fine, I just want to know what all the fuss is about.

  2. yea, this guy made himself sound like an ass. the work is okay-but he sounds very arrogant. GET EXCITED ABOUT YOUR WORK! the way that he brushes off most of the questions makes me think that he has NO interest in painting at all.

  3. I'm not usually one to criticize artists, but who does this guy think he is? I would probaly be more inclined to take take an interest in this work if it seemed like he cared about communicating anything worthwhile with his work. It's OK if he's just trying to make strange, beautiful and absurd paintigs, but I don't even know if tha's waht he's doing. In this interview as well as his appearance in the James Kalm video, he failed to articulate anything of value about his work. He comes across as the fraud or a charlatan. It's hard to take Rberta Smith or Jerry Saltz too serious for their misguided praise of this work. The saddest part is that this guy is represented by one of the coolest galleries in New York. Double Bummer!

  4. Sometimes extreme self effacement can work against one

  5. ……….the interview is good .

  6. I found the artist's answers refreshing in a world where everyone seems to think that making statements about one's work is as important as the work itself. Why all the need for explanation? As Agnes Martin once said, "Just look".

  7. Isn't he negating himself? The determination to not be pinned to anything is a defense mechanism, a fear of failure. And by so choosing isn't he creating an agenda anyway? His paintings are quite silly (and not in a good way).

  8. Been following his work since I first saw it in the east village a billion years ago. He had some plates with food on them he had painted over with glossy thick white paint. The gallerist told me they were plates his mom ate from right before she died. I still have the announcement from the show, it's a page from an old book, acids making the paper yellow and brittle, stamped with his name and the gallery etc. That show made an impression on me and stayed with me all these years. I liked his interview, both written and on the video. He comes from left field. I thought his influences mentioned in the vid were interesting and expanded my knowledge of art. He has set himself up a cool system with which to make art. Kudos. His achievement his pretty awesome, really.

  9. It takes a lot of practice and knowledge to talk like he does, a lot of thinking about art world, modern art and position of an artwork in an age of cultural overproduction.

    I really admire him and respect him, he sounds like a very down to earth guy and he is doing his stuff for a very long time.

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