Statement by Vincent DiPietro, Computer Associate—City of New York / Photographer
As to the lie about Dorothy Koppelman.
I am a student of the Aesthetic Realism of Eli Siegel and I am also a photographer who, for a number of years, has had the pleasure of taking The Critical Inquiry class taught by artist and consultant of Aesthetic Realism Dorothy Koppelman. Recently a malicious attack against her and her class was printed on a website; it is by some anonymous liar who allegedly attended her class for 6 or 7 sessions. This dear woman, along with her husband Chaim Koppelman, is a pioneer in art criticism and uses as her basis for teaching the Critical Inquiry class Eli Siegel's "Is Beauty the Making One of Opposites?" —a work first published in 1955 and which, along with the Terrain Gallery founded that year by Mrs. Koppelman, is now celebrating it's 50th anniversary.
He claims Mrs. Koppelman would “publicly humiliate some of these people in a very personal way….” This is a whopper of a lie. In the many, many Critical Inquiry classes I have attended, I never once saw Mrs. Koppelman be anything other than a kind critic of a person’s work, and that includes my own. In fact, she has steadily encouraged every student attending this class to use our imagination, to look at objects—be they jars, doorways or people—freshly.
Mrs. Koppelman, along with being a fine artist, is a damned good art critic. In fact, the purpose of this class is for artists to hear criticism of the work being displayed so that we can become better artists. I can attest to the fact that I am becoming a better photographer because of what I heard in this class, both from Mrs. Koppelman and my fellow students. Criticism, by the way, can include both praise and the pointing out where something needs to be better. Mrs. Koppelman looks carefully at each work. There is no schmooz and no buttering. She provides what every artist for ages has yearned for: an honest looking at one’s art.
As to the lie that there are no dissenting opinions in the Critical Inquiry class: there certainly are dissenting opinions! For example, I remember bringing in a photograph that I took of a person in the doorway of a church. The way his leg was bent upward reflected the lovely arch of the church door. In the scene happened to be this man’s bright red Coca-Cola cup. Mrs. Koppelman wasn’t sure the cup made the photograph better or weakened it. Other students in the class said they thought the cup drew you into the photograph and that it belonged there. There was a debate that wasn’t wholly resolved, but there was a desire on the part of everyone to see what would make the work better.
The reason this anonymous liar writes what he does is that he couldn’t stand to respect someone who knows more about art than he does—and that someone happens to be a woman. I look forward to many more years of studying with Mrs. Koppelman and learning from her and my fellow classmates.