Gregory Battcock

American critic, painter, and educator

Gregory Battcock (New York, 1937 – San Juan, Puerto Rico, 1980) was an American art critic and writer, who performed in Eating Too Fast, a 1966 Andy Warhol film made at the Factory.

Quotes edit

Warhol's art... all seem to reflect in art the reality of an official culture of repression rather than of life.
  • Warhol's art can both subvert (up to a point) formal art and, at the same time, offer socially provocative documents to the ordinary, white, middle-class citizen. Blacks and the poor do not like Warhol's art or movies. Documents that are mainly intended as deliberate references to a predominant white culture cannot incite the imaginations of those who don't give a fuck for that culture in the first place, even if they did understand what it was all about. This inability of Warhol to reach blacks and the poor represents the weakest aspect of his art. Warhol's art implies a certain disgust on the part of the artist for culture — a disgust he shares in common with New Left revolutionaries and progressive activist artists and critics. His latest decision, to stop painting altogether, is a deliberate step in the direction away from culture itself. It is also an inevitable step, as the very notion of art works that possess a quality as items to be traded upon the New York art exchange is incompatible with the socialisation of art. Modern culture is a repressive, police agency. The police function of modern culture has been recognized by Warhol. His paintings of electric chairs, police attacks, most-wanted men, and car crashes all seem to reflect in art the reality of an official culture of repression rather than of life.
    • Gregory Battcock, in: Art and Artists, Vol. 5 (1970), p. 13; Republished in Gregory Battcock. The new art: a critical anthology, (1973) p. 27
  • What is video art? How does it differ from commercial television? Is video art linked to such traditional art forms as painting and sculpture? Is it a totally new phenomenon?
    • Gregory Battcock. New Artists’ Video, an anthology, (1978) p. xiii. Introduction:
    • Listing of the several general questions to which video art gave rise to in those days.
  • Video art is art that will stretch the boundaries of the art world.
    • Gregory Battcock early 1970s, as quoted in: "Art history course 2013-14," at, Department of Art History, 18 Feb. 2014.

L’Art Corporel, 1979 edit

Gregory Battcock (1979) "L’Art Corporel," in the catalogue The Art of Performance (Venice: Palazzo Grassi, 1979); as cited in: The Art of Performance A Critical Anthology, Gregory Battcock and Robert Nickas (eds.), 1984

(Performance) art is, perhaps, the first art phenomenon to clearly demonstrate that modern art has become antiquated.
  • (Performance) art is, perhaps, the first art phenomenon to clearly demonstrate that modern art has become antiquated. Modern art is based upon a single assumption. That the artwork is only what it is.It is not a picture or a metaphor for something else. It is, say, a photograph, first and only. Or, perhaps, it is a painting, first and only. This assumption still looms above us all. We automatically accept it. We fall back upon it whenever we have a problem in criticizing, accepting, or understanding a work of art.
    • 1984, p. 5
  • Before man was aware of art he was aware of himself. Awareness of the person is, then, the first art. In performance art the figure of the artist is the tool for the art. It is the art.
Equally, we use this assumption to help us "get out of' numerous situations. A work of art that may be quite useless, quite impossible to understand, perhaps, quite meaningless in every way, can be justified if it manages to refer specifically and exclusively to its own self. The phrase that explains this attitude, in French, is "l'Art, pour l'Art." It is the cornerstone of modernism. It is the major theoretical basis for all modern art, be it painting, video, architecture, or environmental. However, it no longer works.
The shifts in art that will be lasting and that will help determine the art of the future will be those that recognize the limitations, if not the absurdity of this assumption. A medium may, in fact, be interesting and useful and challenging when it tries to be something that it is not.
This attitude, expressed above, is difficult for some people to understand, they have been so thoroughly trained to accept the idea that art is what it is, as the only code for making, evaluating, and understanding contemporary art. Yet the very profound level of artistic energy that is currently expended in the… performance field indicates that the major basis for modernist art is crumbling. We are indeed upon the threshold of a new art, and it is about time. The art that has been presented as new, it is becoming painfully clear, usually isn't new at all. For it continually relies upon the basic assumption that made all modern art possible in the first place, and such art is, of course, no longer new or modern. A truly new modern art will emerge when the basic theoretical foundation for the new (old) art of our time gives way.
  • 1984, 10-11

Quotes about Gregory Battcock edit

  • Battcock was close friends with Andy Warhol and starred in several of the artist’s films, including "Batman Dracula," 1964 and "Horse," 1965, as well as Gregory Markopoulos' films "Galaxie," 1966 and "Iliac Passion," 1967. He became a special correspondent for Arts Magazine also in 1967. His interest in cinema led him to write articles about other Warhol films such as, “Notes on the Chelsea Girls: A Film by Andy Warhol,” 1967, and “Warhol Film,” 1968. Battcock contributed to the re-definition of what the art world categorizes as art in that many of his anthologies address "new" fields of the aesthetic exploration of media such as film and video.
  • In the first reel (of Eating Too Fast), you see a close-up of art critic Gregory Battcock as he is receiving a blow-job. Like the silent version, the person who is performing oral sex on him is out of the frame. Battcock looks somewhat bored during the proceedings. He drinks wine and some water. Towards the end of the first reel, he gets a phone call from a friend named Bob who has just returned from the trip. While they are chatting, the camera pans down to reveal the back of the head of someone who is going down on Battcock while he chats on the phone. Battcock tells the guy to come over and see him in about 33 minutes (the length of reel two). At the end of the reel, Battcock tells the guy going down on him that the caller's 'mother finally died'. The guy responds with something along the line of 'Oh, really'. During reel two, Warhol moves the camera --tilting up and down to the guy on the floor whose face is never revealed. There are also some occasional zooms in and out of Battcock's face. At one point, Battcock starts to eat an apple and begins choking. The guy on the floor tells him 'You shouldn't eat so fast.' The film ends without the sexual act being completed (at least from what I can tell...

External links edit