Under the Influence

by Ofer Caspi

The incomparable Picasso once said: Good artists copy; great artists steal.” And that was before copy paste.


Superflex I Copy Therefore I am, 2009


Among the flashy deluge at The Armory Show, an intimate, placid, unassuming painting caught my attention: A middle-aged woman, sitting solemnly on a Subway bench, forlorn, brooding, yet collected and composed. I immediately recognized her: Golda! Golda Meir, Israel’s first, and only, woman prime minister (1969 – 1974).


Benny Andrews (1930-2006) Subway, 1968

Portrait of Golda Meir

Portrait of Golda Meir

When I approached the woman gallerist with my stirring theory she just dismissed me with a somewhat paternalistic smirk as if saying, ‘There, there, everyone thinks he’s the Indiana Jones of lost art’…

  • I’m telling you, it’s her! Even the year fits!
  • Sure it is. Anyway the artist is dead, so there’s no one to ask.

I walked away, all rattled. I’m still quite convinced it’s her. (The artist, Benny Andrews probably recognized her playing hooky, avoiding another uproarious UN debate about the murderous shenanigans of The Palestine Liberation Organization, to have some quiet ‘me time’ in Bloomingdales.

People’s exhibit #1: Brown bag to the side of her.


At the far end of the floor, a beacon of bad-taste gleamed.

Wafaa Bilal Canto III, 2014

Wafaa Bilal
Canto III, 2014

Genghis Khan Statue

Genghis Khan Statue

I’m guessing–letting Bilal enjoy the benefit of the doubt–that he intended Saddam Hussein to resemble another infamous oppressor, Genghis Khan. I’m sure nhe had something, crude and urgent, awkwardly rudimentary–but a point non the less–to say about the common looks, and nature, of tyrants. A more flattering premise could see this eyesore as a sardonic jab at the tyrant’s own penchant to shiny grandiose golden self-monuments. Saddam would have loved this piece in his living-room.



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