Art Movement

1970s Art: Bad Painting

"Bad" Painting is the name given by critic and curator Marcia Tucker to a trend in American figurative painting in the 1970s. Tucker curated an exhibition of the same name at the New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York, featuring the work of fourteen artists mostly unknown in New York at the time. The exhibition ran from January 14 to February 28, 1978.

Tucker defined "Bad" Painting[1] as a focused or deliberate disrespect for recent styles of painting, not the more common sense of technical incompetence, poor artistic judgement, or amateur or outsider dabbling. The press release for the exhibition[2] summarized "Bad" Painting as "an ironic title for 'good painting', which is characterized by deformation of the figure, a mixture of art-historical and non-art resources, and fantastic and irreverent content. In its disregard for accurate representation and its rejection of conventional attitudes about art, 'bad' painting is at once funny and moving, and often scandalous in its scorn for the standards of good taste." "Bad," as Tucker's use of scare quotes suggests, is thus a term of approval for eccentric and amusing deviations from accepted styles at the time.

Well known popular artist of that period include:

– Jean-Michel Basquiat

– Neil Jenney

– Kenney Scharf

– Julian Schnabel

– Malcolm Morley

– David Salle

– Jonathan Borofsky

– Donald Sultan

Artists included in the exhibition were James Albertson (1944–2015), Joan Brown (1938–1990), Eduardo Carrillo (1937–1997), James Chatelain (b. 1947), Cply (alias William Copley) (1919–1996), Charles Garabedian (1923–2016), Cham Hendon (1936–2014), Joseph Hilton (b. 1946), Neil Jenney (b. 1945), Judith Linhares (b. 1940), P. Walter Siler (b. 1939), Earl Staley (b. 1938), Shari Urquhart (b. 1938), and William Wegman (b. 1943).

The hype from their bad taste element drew inspiration from popular culture, the adaption of interesting materials used, excessive thick layers, and clashing colors.

Michel Basquiat, "Black Policman"

Neil Jenney, "Man and Challenge"

Malcom Morely, "Onsett"

My Art ...and other stuff

Davis Selle, "One"

Joan Brown, "Self Portrait"

Judith Linhares, "Founding"

Shari Urquhart, "Two Tubs in a Tub"

Often Break

Words and music by Dave Granger and Clark Williams

Arranged by Clark Williams

October 1980

Time: 6:16

(Click our picture to listen to the original cassette recording)

If ever it's a rainy day

I pack myself up in my room

Then chase all the clouds away

Get myself back to you


Well I know that you're going to cry

Tears are running from your eyes

A piece of my love you take

Is one that so often break

If ever you're miles away

I'll think of you the way you are

Your shining hair your ruby lips

Then it don't seem quite so far

Harmonica lament break:


Very long jam session:

Repeat 2nd. verse


I Won’t Touch/Taking a Ride

Words and music by Dave Granger and Clark Williams

Arranged by Clark Williams

October 1980

Time: 9:40

(A song about getting over from being bullied)

You might think I've hidden my shame

of things I've said and done

Who am I to play this silly game?

When there's no way to tell if I've won

No way to tell if I've won


I won't touch

No, I won't feel

Won't hurt as much because it won't even seem real

Won't feel pain

No, and I won't feel sorrow

I'll just wait and wonder who I am tomorrow

Quick Harmonica break:

And freedom is something that everybody needs

But you can't chase it blindly

You can't run but must walk proud

No peace of mind comes with its finding

Peace of mind sure is fine, sure is fine

I'd like to find peace of mind


Eclectic guitars and forsaken dreams

Are kept in closets to hide them

I think it's time to open up the doors

To do our best to find them

Do our best to find them


Oh yeah!

It's time to touch

Yes it's time to feel

It's going to hurt so much

But it's the only way I'll heal

I'll feel pain and soon I'll feel sorrow

I'll wake up knowing

I'm so happy

So happy


(Lead-out harmonica solo then go into "Taking a Ride")

Art Studio Commune

East 6th and Grand Ave. Des Moines, Iowa, circa 1970 something. I had it in 1983, 84, 85.