Murillo vs. Smith: 14 artworks soon under the hammer, check the ingredients before eating!


A few days ago Jerry Saltz – alias Jerry the Fox – wrote on Twitter: “idiot collectors fighting over who gets to buy terrible paintings by Oscar Murillo or Lucien Smith”. The twit was illustrated by a detail from The garden of Earthly Delights, by Hyeronimous Bosh (Prado, Madrid): a group of naked human beings gathered around an enormous red and hairy fruit.

Of course Saltz is wrong, but consciously wrong, as he generally is. The paintings by Murillo and Smith, which he was cunningly promoting by the way, will go under the hammer next week. They are nothing less than beautiful, that is to say eye pleasing, conservative, easy, simple. Their good aestethics is a matter of fact, scientifically proved by Ramachandran’s ten figural primitives. For example, “Repetition” is the key to apply to Smith’s rain paintings – three at Phillips’, three at Sotheby’s and one at Christie’s; while a mix of “Peak Shift” and “Contrast” could easily explain the effect that Murillo’s works – two at Phillips’, one at Sotheby’s and no less than four at Christie’s have on our perception.

So the real problem with these two emerged-market-champions-artists is not with their aesthetics, just like the problem with junk food is not its taste. Have you carefully read the ingredients before buying them? Are they healthy as well as being tasty? Is having a single gallery and no significant upcoming shows, as in the case of former member of the Still House group Lucien Smith, a good enough reason to opt for him?

December 15, 2017