False pretenses are the bane of modern life or so I’m told. Although Lewis Carroll seems to have composed an entire poem devolving entirely from the concept of false pretenses and all the semiotic and logical heartache they can inflict upon humanity, in our more louche age the concept of false pretenses has inspired instead a steady diet of policiers, bodice-ripping Mills & Boons and true-life confessional serial-killer-self-help-vademeca.
Very well, let the masses have their sensationalist Lewis Carroll, their police gazette Hunting of the Snark! If it’s murder and false pretenses they want, let ‘em have it!
The heart of the problem, as I saw it, was to produce a drawing with a maximum of false pretensions and a minimum of actual labor. My eyes fell upon a tattered copy of a magazine, a well-known NYC magazine whose pages lauded a certain artist specialized in the art of portraiture, whose devotion to their practice (are they also dentists?) was such that they could not bear to paint more than one face, over and over, varying only the sitter’s name but never the actual picture.
Gosh! Throwing caution to the winds, I brushed aside my idly gyrating Assamese nautch girl, recklessly purchased an entire sheet of second-grade-fresh drafting vellum and pushed another quarter into the meter of my steam-driven pen! Working without respite, I labored to flesh out the Baker’s criminal pretense, multiplying his crypto-Carrollian visage seven-fold!
Huzzah for the critics! Huzzah for every artist who labors more over their bar tab than their drawing board! In a world of false pretenses, who is the menaced assassin and who is the menacing victim now? Look out, New York art-wallahs, here comes a real maverick!