Q + A with Michael Fauerbach and Adam Zucker 2/4/2011
*Dictated to Ellen Fauerbach
AZ: How did you become an artist?
MF: His artistic ability was recognized in kindergarten. I wasn’t much interested in school and my mother was worried that he had no ambition and was aimless. When he was in high school, she showed his work to the head of a high school art dept. who got angry with her for sending him to Catholic school and not Music and Art. so she encouraged him to apply to Art school. He went to School of Visual Arts to study illustration because he like the figure. While there, the market fell out of illustration due to the popularity of photography. He applied for a scholarship for a fourth year (It was a 3 year school at the time) and switched to painting. He’s painted ever since through 2009.
MF: His modern influences are David Hockney and Edward Hopper. He also likes Velasquez, Goya and Vermeer.
AZ: How did you become a member of Rhino Horn?
MF: He became a member of Rhino Horn through Nicholas Sperakis who was working in the same building as Michael on the corner of Houston and Bowery. They were looking for expressionists and needed people.
AZ: What was the original Rhino Horn group’s intention?
MF:The original intention was to create a humanist group of artists to be radical in opposition to conceptual art which was popular at the time.
AZ: How did Rhino Horn organize itself, did you have meetings?
MF: Rhino Horn organized itself informally through friends. Mike can’t remember meetings in the beginning. He says that there were meetings later on but he was excluded from them because his work really didn’t fit in with the rest of them.
AZ: What were some memorable shows and experiences with Rhino Horn?
MF: The show at the New School was the most memorable show. They were hanging it when the Weathermen or whatever group it was set the bomb off in the famous antiwar lawyer’s (I think it was William Kunster) brownstone. He saw the daughter and her friends run away. Peter Scheldahl wrote about Rhino Horn for the Sunday Times after that show. He didn’t like Michael’s work. He said it didn’t fit in with the rest which it didn’t. They were also invited to the Bienale in Medellin, Colombia and sent work there. David Shirey wrote about Michael’s work in the Times more favorably.
AZ: You were all published in Barry Schwartz’s book The New Humanism: Art in a Time of Change, did Rhino Horn consider itself to be a humanist art collective?
MF: Rhino Horn did consider itself a humanist art collective. That was an even more essential criterion than expressionism was, although the group was more artistically cohesive as humanistic expressionism.
AZ: How did your art relate to the New Humanism?
MF: Mike’s work related to humanism but not to the humanistic expressionism (of the majority of the group) particularly in Peter Dean’s work.
AZ: What did you do after Rhino Horn?
MF: During the time of Rhino Horn, Mike’s work was somewhat surrealistic but after a while he didn’t feel that that was the way to go. He was trying to find a way out. After about a year, his goals changed and his work became more realistic. He also did less sculpture and bas reliefs and more two dimensional paintings. He has consistently painted throughout his life. His later work is acrylic on paper. He always painted his environment which earlier included people. Later, he did buildings which were tenement houses in Jersey City and barns in the Catskills, all at a certain level of decay.