Tom Moody
Since 2002
Works in New York, New York United States of America

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A friend thinks I need to address this observation of Rob Myers':

>>Nesbitt's picture doesn't look photorealistic, it looks like the illustrations in children's books explaining IT of the time. It fits into the what was by then the established Pop strategy of depicting the physical and media products of capital as if they were high genre subjects (see Hamilton's "Hommage a Chrysler Corp"). I like Nesbitt's picture but it does not depict digital imagery, it depicts an expensive and new piece of computing machinery as seen in print media. So this is not an image that has any historical bearing on Proops's work, it is not an example of that genre, and it did not start that genre.


The painting is 205 x 205 cm (6.5 x 6.5 feet) so "children's book" is probably not the connotation that sprung to mind when the work was first seen hanging in show of "media products." Hard to say, we're talking about a jpeg, but yes, definitely Pop, which is where photorealism or hyperrealism came from.

As for whether a picture of a computer is "digital imagery," obviously it isn't and Rob is nitpicking--taking my term "computer envy" and creating his own frame for it: "To be a precedent for Dan Proops you must have had to do "pixelation" or imagery made with a computer to be envious of the computer."

My frame was Nesbitt, Manetas, Gonzales, Proop: painters who have a universe of possible subjects to paint: fruits, the home, attractive young people, war, landscapes, cityscapes, etc. but choose computers and their products and byproducts because they feel that is important subject matter.

I call it envy because they have not made the next logical leap, which is to walk away from the painting studio and make the art with the thing they are so interested in.

I hope this clarifies where I am coming from.



I meant vis a vis and not via in the next to last sentence.



Rob, you're being a bit selective in reducing my timeline from Nesbitt --> Proops. I did mention some other artists in there. Nesbitt isn't a very good photorealist but that was the dialog around his work in the 70s. He went on to paint giant flowers that looked like seed catalog photos but slightly more clumsy/expressive.
I'm not too concerned if "computer envy" doesn't float your boat via Proops. It is a real trend in the New York painting world at least.



Some afterthoughts from my blog (

Based on the jpegs ( it looks like another case of "computer envy" where a contemporary artist working in the tried-and-true medium of paint on canvas adopts digital imagery as subject matter (a trend that arguably began with Lowell Nesbitt painting photoreal pictures of IBM mainframes ( and was more recently seen in Miltos Manetas's still lifes of Playstation equipment or Wayne Gonzales's airbrushed renderings of basic Photoshop effects).

The intended tension here is between a slow, contemplative medium and a fast, disposable medium. For example, painting the browser window and scroll bars as well as the porno imagery inside that frame. Or rendering every facet of a wireframe Nefertiti model. As Ed Halter says [...] this appears, from the jpegs at least, to be "quick-glance commentary on medias new and old through easy-to-get juxtapositions." That is likely the case but you can never say for sure until you see the work--there is always the possibility of a formal wow factor or something surprisingly wonderfully trashy happening in a person-to-painting encounter.



Another typo, darn: "I think criticism helps us understand artists' work, even Dan Proops'. "

is what was intended.

And speaking of Proops, some thoughts:

It's hard to argue about paintings without the paintings present. It's quite possible that if Proops could paint as well as Caravaggio (or even John Currin, who's worked hard to get the old master depth and sensitivity in his rendering, making collectors go gaga), the viewer would have to deal with the fact of those painted pixels in a way that you might not seeing them at 72 dpi on a browser.

As in, "my God look at the amount of time and finesse that went into this art just to make this point about censorship or whatever." Your rational mind would be pulling you in one direction ("this is a bad idea") while your senses were pulling you in another.

It seems unlikely that the work has its ducks in a row to that degree but we could at least entertain the possibility.