The Art Assassin

a nonfiction novel by Albert Wang

Chapter 7: EXCLUSIVE ASSASSINATION: Eric Doeringer, Artist, Bootlegger, and G-E-N-I-U-S

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Eric Doeringer, conceptual artist, with the Eric Doeringer Costume, 1998, mixed media, dimensions variable. Courtesy of Eric Doeringer.
Some of the infamous Eric Doeringer Bootlegs series which started in 2001 until now. Courtesy of Eric Doeringer.

Last year I had a chance to make a studio visit in Brooklyn with my conceptual artist friend and “made man” Mr. Eric Doeringer, who was preoccupied with various projects. His studio reminded me of Willy Wonka‘s factory if the chocolate genius were an artist instead. I had a chance to peep some Alex Katz bootlegs as well as some of the hottest Chinese contemporary art in the same boat.

I feel privileged to be able to sit down and converse with one of the emerging geniuses whose restless exploration of what is allowed in contemporary art leads us down some risky yet exciting paths. He is not fearful of branching out into all types of media ranging from traditional paintings to appropriated or redacted museum passes. So granted some of my Dadaist questions may have thrown some curveballs in his direction but his playful, articulate, yet scholarly humor has been glad to be stretched out to its maximum. And now for the moment that pretty much everyone, at least the art insiders to start with square one, has been waiting for.

He is not represented currently by a commercial gallery. So if you have any questions about Doeringer’s artwork, feel free to contact him privately at

qi peng: What is your opinion of art world journalism? Do you read periodicals such as ArtForum or ARTnews to get an up to date understanding of what goes on within the art world? Do you have any favorite artistic blogs or websites that you enjoy looking at on a regular basis? Do you feel that smaller, regional art markets like Philadelphia or Denver will have a chance to expand their horizons into becoming essential and vibrant art hot spots just like Los Angeles or New York City? What do you think about the current state of contemporary art within New York?

Eric Doeringer: I look through Artforum because they are the most “established” art magazine and I like to see who they’re covering, who’s buying full-page ads, etc.  However, I probably only read 50% of the articles — most of the art they cover is so dry!  I prefer Modern Painters (better articles on established artists), Beautiful Decay and Tokion (more interesting articles on young artists), and The Art Newspaper (great coverage of the business side of the art market). As for online art journalism/blogs, I read the “magazine” on fairly regularly and check in from time to time with VVORK,, bloggy, and newsgrist. Howsmydealing, which I saw you covered recently, is also pretty great; and I just got on Facebook, which is an interesting place to see the connections between various people in the art world.

I don’t think that cities like Philadelphia or Denver are going to rival New York or LA anytime soon.  The internet has made it easier for artists to disseminate their work, but it’s hard enough to get people to come to your studio in Brooklyn, let alone Philadelphia!  New York has an unrivaled concentration of artists, critics, galleries, institutions, and collectors, and you need all these elements to have a vibrant art scene.  New York is a stimulating place to live that attracts ambitious creative people in many different fields.  I’m sure it’s easier to become a “big fish in a small pond” somewhere else, but who wants to be stuck in a small pond?  The biggest problem with being an artist in New York City is that studio/living space is so expensive, but there’s no place I’d rather live.

qi peng: What are some of your favorite artists, books, television shows, sports, art magazines, toys, movies, and other cultural artifacts that you wish to share with your fans of your work here? Do you have any recent galleries or exhibitions that you have seen and would to recommend to us? What things in those shows inspired your visual eye?

Eric Doeringer: I was really excited by Lisa Kirk’s “House of Cards” exhibition at Invisible-Exports earlier this year.  She built a shack out of found materials in the gallery.  After you passed through the shack you entered a “real estate office” where realtors were selling week-long time shares in the shack, which will be reconstructed in the Brooklyn Navy Yard (which, as the realtors pointed out, is ”New York City’s only gated community”).  The time shares were pretty reasonably-priced, so I bought a week in June and I plan to “camp out” in the shack, have a few dinner parties, etc.

My friend William Powhida has a new show up at Schroeder-Romero that’s also pretty great.  There’s a fantastic painting charting connections between the major players in the art world (with Bill’s acerbic annotations) and a fake gallery set up in the back room selling cheap digital prints of work by the (real) gallery’s stable of artists.

I was also pleased to hear that Triple Candie recently re-opened, although I haven’t made it to their new space (which, unfortunately, is even further uptown than their old space).  They have put on some very interesting shows over the past few years.

My favorite artists include Andy Warhol, Jeff Koons, Tom Sachs, Santiago Sierra, Maurizio Cattelan, Tom Friedman, and Andy Kaufman (whom most people label a comedian but who was, in my opinion, actually more of a performance artist).  I can’t narrow my favorite movies down to a manageable list, but some of my favorite directors are Stanley Kubrick, Werner Herzog, Charlie Kaufman, the Coen Brothers, and Jim Jarmusch.  I don’t watch much TV other than documentaries on The Discovery Channel or The History Channel, but I love South Park and am constantly amazed at what they get away with.  Unfortunately, I don’t read nearly as much as I did when I had to commute on the subway every day – mostly I read magazines.  I’m a huge music fan and have pretty eclectic tastes – I listen to a lot of WFMU (a freeform station in New Jersey) in my studio.

qi peng: How do you feel that the current economic recession impacted the contemporary art market and way that it functions in the larger national economy? Do you feel that artists will be pursuing more personal and intimate projects than the overly commercial work, typically geared for the art fairs, during the upcoming years? How do you think that galleries and non-profits will be coping with the dramatic shifts within the political and corporate culture, particularly in America? Do you have any thoughts about the current state of the stock market and its concomitant corruption such as the recent Madoff and AIG (American International General) scandals?

Eric Doeringer: I’m hopeful that the recession will clear out some of the deadwood from the art world.  I’m not trying to say the recession is a good thing – some good galleries have already closed and many artists were living on the edge of financial desperation even during the bubble — but the feeding frenzy on the opening days of the major art fairs was not healthy and auction prices for contemporary art were seriously in need of a “correction” (as they say in the biz).  I think the artists, dealers, collectors, curators, and critics who are truly passionate will find a way to continue, although things are obviously going to be tight for a while.

Like most people, I’m sickened by the AIG bonuses.  I agree that the government needed to take steps to prop up the economy, but paying oversized bonuses to the very people who got us into this mess is unconscionable.  I believed executive compensation was a problem long before the subprime crisis.  I know that guys in finance work hard, but so do teachers and janitors.  We need to take steps to decrease the divide between the rich and poor in this country.  I’m in favor of drastically increasing income tax on the wealthy and creating government-sponsored universal health care.

qi peng: As a graduate of the BFA program at the Brown University as well as the MFA program at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts Boston (SMFA), what were those educational years like? How was life in the studio like back then? Did you have any influential professors or students during that time and what was their impact on you and your work? How did you develop your current style of witty conceptual art, institutional critiques, brilliant fakes, and pornographic or political pieces?

Eric Doeringer: Not to knock either school, but I always felt I got more from the other students than from my professors.  At Brown I was mainly a painter, but I took two sculpture classes in my senior year where we got into some pretty heated discussions.  In retrospect, those classes were pretty influential.  My girlfriend (now my wife) went to RISD [Rhode Island School of Design], so I had a lot of contact with students there, as well.

I chose the Museum School (SMFA) for grad school because it was an open program – I didn’t have to declare a concentration in one medium.  It has a reputation of being a pretty radical place, but I found it fairly conservative – there were a lot of middle-aged housewives exploring their “creative side”.  The school is really only radical in comparison to the rest of the art scene in Boston, which is very conservative.  However, some great visiting artists like Fred Tomaselli and Tom Friedman taught classes while I was there.  There was also some interesting performance art going on at the school like Kaiju Big Battel (a combination of American pro wrestling and Japanese movie monsters) and the Museum School Cheerleaders (who wore black cheerleader uniforms and had cheers like, “What can you be with an art degree?  Cocktail waitressGanja dealer!”).

While I was in grad school I worked at a gallery that represented artists like Alexandra Nechita (the 14-year-old “artistic prodigy”) and Thomas Kinkade.  It was fascinating to observe that segment of the art world (believe me, they sold a lot of art) and it fed into my interest in fusing high & low culture.  The ideas in my artwork began to cohere in my second year of graduate school when I started working on my thesis: a series of self-portraits based on somewhat lowbrow pop culture artifacts like trading cards, paint-by-numbers kits, etc.

qi peng: What is your opinion on juried competitions such as New American Paintings and curated artists registries such as The Drawing Center‘s Viewing Program or White Columns in the development of a young artist’s career? Do you feel that being judged by “officials” or “art referees” help to create a strong reputation for the artist’s work? What elements do you think are necessary to make a particular artwork strong and communicative? With the rise of online curated galleries such as Collegeartoline (CAO) and Ugallery, do you think that those type of galleries are a good stepping stone into the larger art network?

Eric Doeringer: I had one of my first shows in New York at White Columns.  It used to be a great place to see work by young artists and their openings were a lot of fun.  Unfortunately, they seem to have stopped curating shows from the slide registry, which is a real shame.  Most of the artists they show now are already established and the shows have been pretty boring.  I’m not familiar with the online registries you mention, but I think artist registries are a good way for emerging artists to get their work in front of curators.  However, it’s important to have a good jury/curatorial team managing the registry, otherwise there’s too much art for anyone to wade through.  I haven’t entered many juried competitions – I’m wary of anything charging an entry fee.

qi peng: Are there any restaurants or hangouts such as bookstores around Brooklyn or anywhere else in New York CIty that you wish to recommend us? What are the qualities that you enjoy best about the places that you have chosen?

Eric Doeringer: I live in Prospect Heights, which isn’t a particularly hip part of Brooklyn.  Freddy’s Bar is my main hangout in the neighborhood – it’s close, the drinks are cheap, and they often have live bands with no cover charge (I’m particularly fond of the monthly “old time jam”).  They always play bartender Donald O’Finn’s videos (montages of old instructional films, horror movies, stag loops, etc.) on the TV over the bar – they’re better than most of the video art you see in Chelsea galleries.  I also like going to a bar/nightclub in the neighborhood called Barbes.  It’s a musicians’ hangout that books unusual (and talented) bands from all over the world to play in their tiny back room.

qi peng: What are some of your thoughts of the current trends within the contemporary art world such as conceptual art or the new media art where technology and art intersect? Do you feel that there is a certain strength in your handcrafted bootlegs that differs from giclees where computers are used for the step of mechanical reproduction?

Eric Doeringer: I like conceptually-based art when it shows a sense of humor.  I hate it when it’s dry and academic (like the last couple of Whitney Biennials).

We’re obviously going to see more and more “new media” art – the computer is such an integral part of contemporary life.  Digital art is exciting because it’s a new medium with a lot of possibilities – some digital artists I like are Cory Arcangel, Michael Bell-Smith, and Paper Rad.  I do think there’s something nice about the more “handmade” Bootlegs, but I don’t have any problem with the lack of the artist’s “hand” in digital art.  I have more issues with art that is poorly-crafted (i.e. the New Museum’s “Unmonumental” exhibition) than I do with art that is overly-slick.

qi peng: What are some of your hobbies outside of painting? How does these things relate to your studio practice? Do you find yourself having to enter into the studio out of discipline or inspiration or a mixture of both? What are some of the practical challenges that artists have to face inside or outside their studio time? What are some of your habits that you maintain within your studio work?

Eric Doeringer: Hobbies?  Who has time for hobbies?  Just kidding.  I’m kind of a music nut, so I like going to see live bands/DJs, browsing in record stores, reading blogs about music, etc.  I also like watching movies (mostly on TV – I don’t get out to the theater as often as I’d like), going out to eat, and riding my bike around Brooklyn.  I tend to be kind of stressed, so I try to do yoga at least a couple of times a week.

I’m pretty disciplined about my work habits.  I usually get up sometime between 7 and 8, shower, eat breakfast, and spend an hour or two answering emails or doing other work on the computer (I don’t have a computer in my studio).  Then I walk or bike over to my studio and work until 6 or 8.  I’m a pretty focused worker (I’m actually trying to be better about taking breaks) while I’m in the studio.  Then I head home, check my email again, cook dinner, and watch some TV, read, or go out for a drink.

qi peng: In your series “Conceptual Art Recreations,” you reenact all of the classic works of the seminal works of conceptual art during the 1960’s and 1970’s ranging from John Baldessari‘s “I Will Not Make Any More Boring Art” to Lawrence Weiner‘s “One Quart Exterior Green Industrial Enamel Thrown On a Brick Wall.” What was the ultimate goal in exploring these masterpieces and walking in the footsteps of your predecessors? What is the statement that you are trying to make about the nature and history of conceptual art in general? Do you see your series as a form of institutional critique about pieces of institutional critique?

Eric Doeringer: I’ve become interested in artists who removed their “hand” from their artwork.  Wheras the Bootlegs are (intentionally) shoddy copies of other artists’ work, there’s no physical difference between a “Sol LeWitt Wall Drawing” that I’ve made and one that’s been drawn by the official draftsmen – we’re both following the same directions and using the same materials.  The Conceptual artists foregrounded the idea over the physical manifestation of their artwork.  Even though my “LeWitt” drawing looks just like LeWitt’s, the conceptual underpinnings are entirely different.  Is that enough of a difference for me to claim authorship of my “Sol LeWitt” drawing?  These are the kind of questions that interest me.

The late-sixties Weiner pieces interest me for similar reasons (Weiner’s works are statements that can be actualized by the artist, fabricated by someone else, or exist solely as language), but I also love them because they’re a total “f–k you” to the collector.  It’s like, “You want to buy an artwork?  Ok, I’m going to vandalize your home and call it art.”

qi peng: In your mixed media temporary installation “Free Books” which has caused some commotion and consternation amongst bibliophiles, what was your ultimate commentary about the nature of reading during our internet-obsessed society? By ripping out the last few pages of each book and adding an artist’s signature, how does an incomplete book add artistic and thus economic value to the commonplace sculpture that we call a book? Do you plan to work on any artist’s books during the future?

Eric Doeringer: The backlash about the “Free Books” project came as a total surprise.  I was interested in the idea that some people would be looking for the box of books (it was part of an outdoor exhibition on 14th Street in Manhattan) and would be excited if they found a free artwork.  However, most people who took one home would either miss the project entirely (because I don’t think most people actually read the books they pick up off the street) or be disappointed by reading the entire book only to discover it lacked the concluding pages.  It’s the old form vs. function debate, which many of my pieces address.

A lot of people got upset — not people who found the books, but people who heard about the project and were angry that I was defacing works of literature.  That issue never even crossed my mind while I was creating the piece.  I saw the books (which were all books that I found on the street) as a raw material like canvas or a piece of marble.

I am actually working on another book project right now, but it’s totally different.  I’m making my own version of Ed Ruscha’s 1969 book “Stains”.

qi peng: With your infamous bootlegs, you had a long standing battle with the Mike Weiss Gallery. What is the story behind this gallery celebrity death match and how did your brilliant strategy allow you to prevail over a commercial gallery that got fried in the end? Also what was the story of your battle between VAGA (Visual Arts and Gallery Association) and your lovely Alex Katz bootlegs? What does this saga tell the audience about the nature of how the images of artworks are controlled under this type of “dictatorship?” What is your take on copyright infringement and your ability to satirize the way that it has been enforced or applied to various legal cases?

Eric Doeringer: Mike called the police because he was mad that I was selling my “Bootlegs” a few doors down from his gallery.  The cops kicked me off the street because I didn’t have the certificate to be a legal vendor.  I was really mad at first, but I wound up getting tons of publicity, so in the end it turned out pretty well.  I filed the necessary paperwork and was back on the street the next spring.

VAGA is a rights management group for artists and photographers.  They contacted me because they came across the Bootleg “Vik Muniz” and “Alex Katz” pieces on my web site (Muniz and Katz are both VAGA members).  VAGA insisted I remove the images from my web site, stop selling the pieces, destroy any existing inventory, etc.  Alex Katz is from an earlier generation and I would understand if he didn’t want me to copy his work, but I couldn’t imagine Vik Muniz caring since his photographs are based on appropriated imagery.  I wrote back to the VAGA lawyer asking whether he was contacting me on behalf of the artists.  The lawyer said he didn’t have to give me any information and repeated his demands.  I didn’t want to get sued, so I removed the images from my web site.  However, a couple of months later I came across Vik Muniz’s web site, which had his email address.  I emailed him about the situation and he wrote back saying he would tell VAGA it was ok for me to sell my “Vik Muniz” photographs.

I’m watching the case currently being brought against Richard Prince by photographer Patrick Cariou.  The lawyers for Prince/Gagosian are arguing that Prince’s paintings incorporating Cariou’s photographs fall under “fair use” and do not threaten but, in fact, enhance the value of Cariou’s photos (that derivative works can enhance the value of the originals was also one of the defenses made in the recent Shepard Fairey/AP lawsuit).  This is ironic because Gagosian’s lawyers sent me a cease and desist letter a few years ago for creating collages reproducing elements of John Currin’s paintings.  It seems like most of the arguments they’re presenting in Prince’s defense also apply to my work.

Copyright is tricky – the laws aren’t worded (or applied) very clearly. For example, Jeff Koons has won and lost very similar cases over artwork he created based on commercial photographs.  I believe that copyright law is too restrictive.  When copyright was introduced, it only lasted for a few years.  The length of copyright has steadily been extended, due in part to major lobbying efforts from Disney (whose empire was built on works from the public domain like Snow White and Cinderella).  The point of copyright was to encourage creative innovation by protecting the creator’s rights to (and thus ability to profit from) his/her creation.  Instead, copyright law is now used by large corporations to stifle new creative works. The vast amount of information available over the internet (and the ability to manipulate it with software like Photoshop and Pro Tools) is an incredible resource for artists.  It’s wrong to place so many restrictions on so much of this material.

qi peng: How do you decide which artworks are worth bootlegging? What is the process involved in the creation of any given bootleg within your studio? What is a typical day in the Eric Doeringer studio like? After the production run is completed, how do you get the bootlegs out to the public and what is the marketing strategy behind getting more people to recognize the values of these “imitations?” Also what is the story behind Jerry Saltz owning a few of these brilliant “copies?”

Eric Doeringer: I choose artists based on their popularity, not my personal preferences.  I’m interested in whoever is currently “hot”.  They have to have an easily-recognizable style and I have to be able to reproduce their work without too much difficulty.  Most of the paintings incorporate collage so that I don’t have to actually paint the more detailed parts.  I work on anywhere from 6-20 copies of the same painting at a time in a sort of assembly line process.

I sell the Bootlegs on the street, just like the guys selling fake designer handbags and bootleg DVD’s (and I suppose my “marketing strategy” is the same – a reasonable facsimile at a reasonable price).  The paintings are all small (anywhere from 6×9” to 9×12”) so they can fit into a large suitcase that unfolds into a display for the artwork.  Although selling one’s artwork on the street is generally frowned upon by the art establishment, it’s worked out well for me.  When I set up outside of an art fair or on the sidewalk in Chelsea I get better foot traffic than if I was inside.  However, unlike a traditional gallery, I do have to worry about things like bad weather and pigeon s–t.

Yes, Jerry Saltz owns a few of my Bootlegs — he’s been very supportive over the years.  In the new art-world documentary “Guest of Cindy Sherman” you can see one of my “Christopher Wool” paintings hanging in Jerry’s office (and a “Damien Hirst” behind Roberta Smith).

qi peng: What is the underlying philosophy behind the Bootlegs series? Considering that this has been your longest running series, what is the history from 2001 to 2009 of how these works become a success? What is the future direction for this particular series and what works should be expecting in the near future? Also why is it funny that you as an American artist is able to bootleg blue-chip Chinese art as a subversion of the fact that many American-branded goods are created in Chinese sweatshops?

Eric Doeringer: I had been interested in the phenomenon of bootleg merchandise for a while.  For example, I love all the different fake Louis Vuitton fabrics used in the handbags.  They range from very realistic counterfeits to others with the letter P where they should have an LV, or something.  One day it hit me that since contemporary art is a luxury good, there would probably be a market for knock-offs.  Initially, I thought I would do a single “performance” selling bootleg artwork in Chelsea.   I was afraid dealers would try to have me arrested (the whole thing with Mike Weiss happened years later) but there was a (generally) positive reaction and I had some paintings left over so I decided to sell them again the following weekend. It grew from there — I copied more artists (I tried to always have some work from exhibitions that were currently on view) and eventually expanded from Chelsea to the art fair circuit.  At first it was totally guerilla (and I was kicked out of a lot of places), but eventually I was able to talk my way into some fairs as an authorized “artist’s project”.  In 2004 I Bootlegged works from the Whitney Biennial and sold them (unofficially) outside the museum during the opening; three years later they invited me to set up my stand inside – it still amazes me!

I definitely enjoy the irony in bootlegging Chinese artists.  However, contemporary Chinese art has (had?) become an important, much-hyped segment of the contemporary art market, so I would have copied those artists even if China wasn’t infamous for counterfeiting.

At this point, I’m winding down the Bootleg project.  I’ve enjoyed it, but it’s difficult to play the role of both artist and dealer.  I’ve been working on the “Sol LeWitt Wall Drawings” and the “Ed Ruscha Stains” book and I’m very excited about both projects — that’s where I’m focusing my energy right now.

qi peng: Your “Saddam Paintings” are lovely recreations of destroyed Iraqi murals during the Second Gulf War. Do you consider this series to be your most political statement and what does it say about the policies of the former Bush administration? What is your take on American cultural and artistic imperialism?

Eric Doeringer: The Saddam Paintings are probably my most overtly political pieces, although I think a lot of my work has political elements.  I was interested in the murals that Saddam had painted all over Iraq (the country obviously had a large public art budget, if rather limited subject matter).  Most of the photographs I found showed US soldiers urinating on the paintings, driving tanks over them, pointing guns at Saddam’s head, etc., which is not how one normally views works of art.  Our troops destroyed these murals without any attempt to preserve or document them, which seemed characteristic of the heavy-handed way our military handled the situation in Iraq.  By recreating the murals I wanted to preserve a piece of history, but I also realize that I’m an American and something has undoubtedly been lost in the translation.

qi peng: Where did you get your idea of “The S–t Stream” as a blog that documents all your bowel movements day by day? Do you feel that Andres Serrano bit your style with his show of fecal matter over at Yvon Lambert last year? Do you feel that it would be more challenge to document the nature of piss or other bodily fluids like Dash Snow or Terence Koh? What is the secret behind being able to view these works without having to sneak two bottles of Beck’s beer into the gallery space and getting drunk?

Eric Doeringer: The S–t Stream is a kind of self-portrait, and I like the photographs because they are both incredibly intimate and totally impersonal.  S–t is probably the most common material on earth, but it is also considered vulgar and obscene  (I actually started the blog as a Flickr photostream, but Flickr shut it down after a couple of weeks).  Many people can’t even look at the blog, but a bowel movement is like a little sculpture we make every day, influenced by our diet and mental state.  The piece is also a comment on the phenomenon of blogging – people posting their “personal s–t” online.

I laughed when I saw the ad in Artforum for Andres Serrano’s “S–t” exhibition at Yvon Lambert — he totally ripped me off!!  I think The S–t Stream is better than Serrano’s s–t photographs, but Piero Manzoni’s “Artist’s S–t” is the greatest s–t-related artwork of all time (although I was captivated as a teenager by the Mike Kelley photograph inside of Sonic Youth’s “Dirty” album – if you’ve seen it you know what I’m talking about).

The “Ed Ruscha – Stains” project I’m working on includes blood, urine, and semen stains, so I guess I am documenting other bodily fluids now.

qi peng: Who are some gallery owners that you plan to piss off during the next few years apart from Mike Weiss? What are some tips for future conceptual artists for getting on the bad side of gallery owners, museum directors, and art critics? What is the equivalent of “throwing monkey poo” within the context of the art world?

Eric Doeringer: Actually, there is an artist who has been throwing poo (his own, not a monkey’s) during art lectures – it’s some kind of protest against injustice in the art world.

I don’t create artwork to piss people off.  I like in pushing boundaries, but I’m not a nihilist.  I want to make people think (although I realize that might make them angry).  Some people think that I hate galleries, but I don’t, I just want to question the system that’s been set up by the art world.

qi peng: With the “Art Basel VIP Cards” series, how is this a democratic step towards making the art fairs a product of socialism and allowing anyone into the parties? Even though art is supposed to be democratic rather than elitist, why is the world of contemporary art so removed from the everyday world of the Joe who doesn’t know the difference between a Jessica Stockholder and a Sarah Sze?

Eric Doeringer: The “Art Basel VIP Cards” were designed to allow non-VIPs to have access to VIP perks during Art Basel week in Miami, but you had to pony up $500 to buy one, so it wasn’t exactly Socialist.  The whole scene in Miami is (or, given the state of the art market, maybe I should say “was”) so crazy, with everyone vying to get into the right parties.  I wanted to throw a little subversion into the mix.

Do you really think art is supposed to be democratic?  I know that most museums have outreach programs, but I think the “snob appeal” of the art world is important to many people involved.  Collecting the “right” artists is a way to show you have money and taste, showing in the “right” gallery confirms the importance of your artwork, etc.

I think the main reason art is so removed from the mainstream is the poor quality of art education in American schools (let’s face it, the “average Joe” hasn’t heard of Jeff Koons, let alone Jessica Stockholder and Sarah Sze).  Most people don’t know much about art, and they are afraid they’re not going to “get” it (especially modern/contemporary art).  No one wants to look stupid and it’s easy to feel like a rube in a museum or art gallery.  I think art also suffers from the fact that it can’t be easily reproduced and distributed in the way books, movies, and music can.  Looking at a photograph of a painting online or in an art magazine is not the same as looking at the actual painting, and there’s no way you can understand the effect of a massive Richard Serra sculpture without experiencing it in person.

qi peng: What would the Eric Doeringer Guide to the Art World Galaxy contain? How many pornographic diagrams would be included within the book that aren’t reproductions of Marilyn Minter paintings? With your “Spread in Raunchy Couples” self-portrait, you mention that pimpin’ ain’t easy and that you prefer unabated sexual behavior rather than staged sexual behavior. Why is sex as a form of performance art a huge problem amongst contemporary artists who attempt to pimp their style like Andrea Fraser f–king her collector or Vito Acconci whacking off into the Sonnabend Gallery seedbed? Do you have any advice as a sex guru for those conceptual artists, either male or female, who aren’t getting any action jackson in the art field?

Eric Doeringer: I’m not sure I understand your question.  I think Vito Acconci and Andrea Fraser’s pieces are amazing and I don’t see the art world having much of a problem with “sex as performance”.  Look at Matthew Barney!  Andrea Fraser’s piece was controversial, but, to be honest, artists often feel like they’re prostituting themselves and/or “getting f–ked” by collectors/dealers/critics/other artists, even if they’re not making art explicitly about the experience.

qi peng: Would you consider your artwork a form of statement about sociology and the way that humans relate to each other? How does this fit into the political utopia of “hopefulness” that has arrived with the administration of President Obama? Should art strive to maintain the slave to politicians who usurp its sexy methods?

Eric Doeringer: I don’t think art and politics mix very well.  Politicians try to appeal to the mainstream, artists try to challenge the mainstream.  Art that is overtly political is usually didactic, and since contemporary art is mainly of interest to people with liberal politics, political art is generally preaching to the choir.

qi peng: Is there anything else that you wish to share with readers here or fans of your work or bootlegs or Jerry Saltz who digs your stuff, in particular?

Eric Doeringer: You should all buy some “Bootleg” paintings.  They’re affordable and I promise they’re going to be really valuable some day (although probably after I’m dead).  With so many designs to choose from, it’s easy to find a painting that matches your sofa.

qi peng: Finally, what is the art world equivalent of saying “F–k off, man?” What is the proper emotion for an artist to deliver that statement during a dumbass lecture to be given at the Whitney?

Eric Doeringer: I don’t know how to answer that.

For more gossip or dishing me the art scoop: E-mail me at

Written by qi peng

May 12, 2009 at 12:41 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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