PL: In the realm I work in, when the smoke cleared, it turned out you’d fallen behind if you hadn’t “gotten” Masaccio. You’d fallen behind if you hadn’t gotten Manet and Cezanne. You’d fallen behind if you hadn’t gotten Picasso and Braque, Pollock and Newman, Stella and Smithson. You were wrong, they were right. Now I don’t get anyone from Julian Schnabel to Matthew Barney and realize that it’s much more likely that I’ve fallen behind than that what I thought was real art simply ended, like at a certain point mosaics or stained glass simply ended.
AN: Why don’t you just take the position that it’s a bad time for art, a bad period?
PL: That’s what you say before you take the pledge and confess you’ve Fallen Behind. First you say it’s bad, then you say you’re “out of sympathy,” and then you say you’re out of it, period.
AN: Can you identify what happened to get you here?
PL: I think the most important thing that happened was the death of Smithson in 1973. It’s possible he was the one carrying the ball at that moment, the way Pollock was around 1946, or Goya was in 1800. If Pollock had died in 1946 or Goya in 1800 … well, you’d just see a void. And around the same time, all the good people just walked away: the better critics, the better artists. The void got filled with Warholism."
Amy Newman & Philip Leider, “An Art World Figure Re-emerges, Unrepentant” in The New York Times, September 3, 2000. Source.