Thursday, January 7, 2010

Art Trip Bio

Art Trip’s art journey began in Paris during the 1920s where as young art prodigy; his mother brought him to the City of Light to enroll him in the prestigious academic art school, Académie des Beaux-Arts. Though only 5 years old, Trip was recognized as having special artistic talent and was accepted to began his art studies with leading academic teachers of the time. His mother would, at the same time, take a position of ‘maid’ at the school as well as securing a small apartment on the outskirts of the city.

Trip, being the youngest painter to ever study in the school (and the only American), soon attracted the attention of news reporters. These reporters descended on the school to see what was so special about this young painter. When they saw the art that Trip was producing, they howled with laughter. What they seemed to be viewing were mere scribbling of a child.

An early photo of Art Trip in Paris

When photos of these early Trip paintings were released in French newspapers, the esteemed academy became the laughing stock of the art world. Parisians were outraged.

Trip's art from the Académie des Beaux-Arts period

Not all in Paris though, were put out by what they saw of Trip’s art. Paris afterall was the center of the Avant Garde art world and a group of artists centered around Pablo Picasso recognized a genius in those early "scribbles". Though Picasso was well in his mature cubist stage, he saw an avenue out of it hinted by what he saw in Trip’s art.

"Art Trip is the bomb!" - Pablo Picasso


Trip become a minor celebrity among this group of renegade artists as they would sometime show up at Trips mother’s apartment to see the latest paintings that she tacked up on the icebox. Trip would end up only spending a year at the academy because his artistic ‘peers’ convinced Trip’s mother that her son had learned all he could from academic study. In 1924, at the age of 6, Art Trip became a professional artist.

Art Trip in a Paris cafe with his artistic peers

Trip would often be seen at Paris cafes, drinking his milk with his cronies as well as a new group of upstart artists who called themselves Surrealists. The Surrealists, with their emphasis on free association, dream analysis and the hidden unconscious in developing methods to liberate imagination in the creation of art, they saw Art Trip as one of their own. As André Breton remarked, “Trip had the pre-surrealist mind of a child”.

Example of Art Trip's "Automatic Drawings" during his Surrealist period

A Trip inspired drawing by André Masson - 1920s

Working for several years as a “surrealist”, a pivotal point in Trip’s career was reached when at the age of 12; he was given a birthday party by his friends in the Cafe de L'Enfer. After being given several glasses of absinthe (this was France after all) Trip remarked, “My freaking watch is melting.” As fate would have it, a painter by the name of Salvador Dali was seated at the table and upon hearing the comment, rushed home to begin painting the iconic painting of the surrealist movement, Persistence of Memory.

A Trip inspired painting by Salvador Dali

With the Great Depression reaching the shores of France, Art Trip left Paris to return back to the United States. His mother rented a small apartment in Yonkers, NY, several miles from New York City. Trip would reside there for the next several years; living and working in obscurity in a small closet he had set up in the apartment.

"Fuck Art Trip, I didn't rip off his idea for Persistence of Memory"

- Salvador Dali

With the creation of the Works Project Administration for artists (WPA) in 1935, Trip would soon meet and be involved with a group of American painters who would work on the project and who would eventually become known as Abstract Expressionists. One of these artists that he met and eventually befriended was Jackson Pollock.

In 1939, Trip showed Pollock his “piss wall”, an alley wall where he would ‘relieve’ himself before heading back to Yonkers on the subway after heavy bouts of drinking at the Cedar Bar. Trip remarked to Pollock, “If you could piss in different colors, you could make a really great painting doing this.” Pollock would begin his ‘drip paintings’ shortly thereafter.

Jackson Pollock working on a painting inspired by Art Trip

Trip’s mother would die in the mid-1950s and without income and support from her, Trip began to sink into abject poverty. His lack of funds prevented him from buying the paints and canvas he needed to continue his work. He briefly began a phase of ‘assembling’ art from debris he found around him and that he dragged up to the apartment to work on.

"If it wasn't for Art Trip we would have all ended up simply as a bunch of pissers." - De Kooning


A new group of artists began circulating around the New York art scene who began to move away from Abstract Expressionism. One artist in particular whose name was Robert Rausenberg heard a story about a ‘pissing wall’ and an artist named Art Trip who seemed to have influence Jackson Pollock. In 1955, Rausenberg tracked down Trip in Yonkers and was stunned to find Trip’s apartment filled with 'assemblages'; art work fashioned by putting together piece of junk that Trip found in his wanderings. Rauschenberg would begin his famous series of assemblages shortly thereafter

An Art Trip inspired work by Robert Rauschenberg

In 1964, Trip stumbled on a discarded issue of Art in America and was stunned to see Rauschenberg art featured in it; fetching high prices in major galleries and Rauchenberg himself becoming an Art Star. In the same issue, a new artist by the name of Andy Warhol was shown exhibiting soup cans as art. Art Trip realized that the art world had passed him by and decided to give up making art altogether.

The go-go sixties and om-om seventies would bring a fascination of eastern thought and religions to the popular culture. At the same time Art Trip would hear of an artist who had hung around the “abstract expressionists, jazz musicians and beatniks” in the 50s but who had a psychotic break, ending up in Bellevue hospital shortly after completing an advance work called “YogaDawg Howls". It was rumored that this ‘artist’ was now in a cave in India practicing something called yoga.

Trip managed to scrap together some meager funds to get to India in an attempt to find this artist. He would began a remarkable journey over many years traveling through India and Tibet, meeting holy men, swamis, fakirs and fakers all in the hopes that one of them could tell him where this artist was. In the process, Trip would acquire many of the supernatural powers of these so-called yogis.

One fateful day that as Trip sat naked in the snow, deep in meditation on a peak in the Himalayans, he felt a tap on his shoulder. As he opened his eyes, he saw a person with a beret on his head and asked, “I heard you’re looking for me”. Art Trip had at last found the ‘artist’ he was looking for, Sri Sri Swami Baba Guru YogaDawg. Without ceremony, the guru said, “You must go back to American and do your art”. Shocked, Trip replied, “You’re fucking kidding me. I’ve been roaming this god forsaken county looking for you and this is all you have to say?” The swami shrugged his shoulders and told him to be gone. Trip returned to the United States shortly after fully realiizing his now famous art theory, Neo-Post-Tripiism. Today he continues to do his art and support himself by selling them as well as t-shirs over the internet maintaining an art blog.

"Art Trip was a dick, and as I remember, it was pretty big." - Grace Hartigan