The NEA has become a joke. We might as well call a spade a spade and say [the nation] doesn't support art, so let's not have this lip service that we do. Let's make it very clear that we don't support art and see if anything starts up again. I think the chances for art are better if we start out stating clearly what we believe--which is that we don't believe in supporting the arts. Then we'll see if there's any grass-roots movement toward getting it going again.
And if there's no public clamor then it's true: The business of America is business.
Q: What other primary issues face art today?
A: Is there a reason for doing art other than money? Which is an issue that didn't exist before the 1980s. Now it lingers--like some kind of stain that won't vanish.
Prior to the '80s, it was assumed you did it because you wanted to do it. When you see paintings getting smaller and smaller and a lot of gallery tchotchkes around, is that because people really want to do them? I'm not so sure.
Or, is it just because, listen, I've got to pay my rent? [Artist and Newsweek art critic] Peter Plagens had this idea that the NEA should pay some artists not to do art.