Jeff Schwarz: All Art Is For Queers

THE DAILY PIC: A ceramicist hides a standard insult under his pretty tiles.


This piece by avant-ceramicist Jeff Schwarz is on display at Revision Space in Pittsburgh, and may look at first glance like a patch of old kitchen tiles. It may look that way at second glance, too. What makes it worth taking in, and thinking about, is only revealed if you give it a sidelong look in just the right light: Embedded in very shallow relief underneath the tiles’ colored glaze is the barely discernible scrawl “SCHWARZ IS A FAG.” Those words apparently descend from a similar phrase written by neighborhood toughs on an overpass where Schwarz grew up near Pittsburgh, but they lie just beneath the experience of most men who have embraced the arts. (It’s not far-fetched to imagine that the machismo of some of modern art’s more famous mega-men, such as Jackson Pollock, Clement Greenberg, Richard Serra, or Bob Hughes, was inoculation against such suggestions of fifi-dom, which means that it was actually cover for cowardice–for their fear of the velvet-clad aesthete flouncing around deep inside them.)

By laying the insult down at the very foundation of his decorative tiles–one the oldest and most fundamental genres in the “girly” craft of ceramics, which is one of the oldest and most fundamental of all the arts–Schwarz also lays it down at the base of all of our culture’s creativity. Schwarz isn’t gay, but he and all other artsy males are inevitably “queer”–set off at an angle–to the rest of our very straight culture. (© Jeff Schwarz 2014, courtesy Revision Space)

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