All the Artists of “Sex and the City,” from Best to Worst
From Alexander Petrovsky, to Charlotte’s secret Hasidic artist boyfriend, to the woman who trapped herself in a Chelsea gallery for 16 days—these are all the shows fake artists, ranked.
The girls inspect the works at “Drag Kings: The Collision of Illusion and Reality.” Photograph via Getty Images.
Sex and the City is filled with men and shoes and dresses and apartments and lots of other things ripe for our tragically list-driven society—and that includes art. For the first few seasons, Charlotte ran a gallery, and her openings were often great kick-starters for drama. But that wasn’t the only place artists showed up. From Samantha’s passionate girlfriend-painter Maria to Carrie’s horrible light-installation-creating dreamboat Alexander, here are the artists on Sex and the City, ranked from best to worst. We took into consideration both the quality of their work and their personalities—in this age, you can’t separate an artist from his or her art!
12. Maria Diega Reyes , season 4, multiple episodes
Reyes is the Brazilian stunner who steals Samantha’s heart: an artist at Charlotte’s gallery who is as gentle (couples’ bubble baths!) as she is fiery (she breaks all of Samantha’s dinner plates during a fight). She enters the scene on the occasion of her sold-out show of abstract paintings; despite their wild, intense, and passionate colors, they’re surprisingly boring, compositionally. On her first date with Samantha, she invites her over to make art and they end up painting an entire canvas Yves Klein blue. Derivative!
11. Unnamed art photographer who takes Samantha’s nudes, season 4, episode 2: “The Real Me”
Hoping to preserve a vision of her perfect body forever, Samantha (she’s clearly an art lover; perhaps that’s what she and Charlotte talked about) hires a photographer to take full-frontal nude shots. Though we don’t see the finished product (at least from the front), the photographer’s work is commendable, according to the girls, and he gets bonus points for his assistant, the mouth-breather Tiger, who is portrayed pitch-perfectly by Tony Hale of Arrested Development and Veep fame, and who offers to put on Steely Dan to make her more comfortable. Samantha, of course, doesn’t need it, but Tiger might!
10. Schmuel, season 1, episode 6: “Secret Sex”
When Carrie worries Big might be hiding their relationship from the world, she learns that Charlotte had a torrid, secret affair with a hot Hasidic artist named Schmuel. It begins when she pays a visit to his Brooklyn studio, where she purrs, “These are outstanding. So much life. You have a beautiful way with light.” She pauses in front of one painting. “Now this one is really special.” He tells her, “That’s my yeshiva. I wanted to capture the exuberance of youth.” And then they totally do it on the floor! “Daddy’s little Episcopalian princess in the arms of one of God’s chosen people,” Carrie says. But is his art good, or is Charlotte merely drawn to the forbidden nature of their love? The painting that draws her to Schmuel is a dense blue and red abstract—and a particularly mawkish Chagall rip-off. Any Smith art history grad like Charlotte would see through it.
9. Unnamed Chelsea performance artist putting herself on display for sixteen days, season 6, episode 12: “The One”
“When Charlotte and I heard that there was a woman in Chelsea not talking or eating,” Carrie says, “we were there in a New York minute.” There, the unnamed artist is on a raised platform, accessible only by a ladder with knives for rungs (yes!!!). You know it must be good, because art world hottie Alexander Petrovsky is checking it out, and later, Alexander takes Carrie on their first date to see the artist in the middle of the night. “When I was working at the gallery, performance art was more theater than installation,” Charlotte explains. “She’s moved it to the next level.” Get Charlotte on staff at Artforum!
8. Neville Morgan, season 1, episode 5: “The Power of Female Sex”
Much more compelling than Schmuel is the work of Neville Morgan, a wizened artist from upstate New York who asks Charlotte to visit his barn so he can paint her vagina. While this sounds totally creepy, Morgan executes his work with care and empathy. His charming wife offers Charlotte lemonade and cookies before posing, and the resulting show is filled with lush abstracts in nude and blue tones—bonus points for not just copying Georgia O’Keefe!
7. Yael, season 2, episode 6: “The Cheating Curve”
Yael is another of Charlotte’s artists, “a lesbian painter from Brooklyn Heights” with a built-in posse of Prada loafer-wearing power lesbians who adopt Charlotte. Not only does their divine sisterhood manage to recruit yo-yo-preppy Charlotte, but her art is actually kind of cool: ’40s tattoo-inspired doodles of mermaids and babely women, with messages like, “DEATH BEFORE DISHONOR” and “PAINTING NO. 700” in kiddish script. It’s a tad basic, though; you can totally see a poster of one of these hanging in Rachel and Monica’s apartment in Friends.
6. Steven Miller, season 2, episode 10: “The Caste System”
One day, a hunky movie star named Wylie Ford enters Charlotte’s gallery, where she’s showing a bunch of bad abstract art—primary colors, applied in a slapdash way to suggest meaning or whatever. “STEVEN MILLER,” reads his name on the wall, and underneath is a fire extinguisher. “How much is this one?” Wylie asks Charlotte, and then, in a fit of embarrassment, she has to tell him it’s just a fire extinguisher. He says he must be an idiot, and he later proves he is, but I have to give him credit: the rest of Miller’s oeuvre is so stupid, and Charlotte’s gallery so pretentious in its white-cube pomposity, that you can’t really blame him! Charlotte offers the extinguisher to him: “People will probably think it’s a Jeff Koons!”
5. Charlotte, season 4, episode 7: “Time and Punishment”
They couldn’t let Charlotte exist so close to art without having her try her hand, could they? Well, kind of. In season 4, her marriage to Trey finally on steady ground, Charlotte decides to quit her gallery. When the girls ask her what she’ll do with all that free time, she says she might cook, or volunteer, or “sometimes I walk past one of those Color Me Mine pottery places, and I see a woman having a lovely afternoon glazing a bowl.” It would be very 2018 of Charlotte to do a show of her glazed pots and make all her friends pay $120 a pop for a mug decorated with little flowers and “ELIZABETH TAYLOR IS THAT BITCH” stenciled on the side. Creativity takes courage!
4. Unnamed artist who makes the terrible art Samantha gives Richard, season 4, episode 18: “I Heart New York”
Samantha is finally willing to give her heart to a man, and because she can’t do anything without making a horrible pun, she decides to give Richard a gnarly triptych of three hearts—one pristinely painted, the next less so, and the third totally messy. Love contains multitudes, okay? Then she slams it on the ground when she catches him cheating, yelling, “Now your heart’s broken too!” Wow. From a purely aesthetic point of view, this is absolutely the worst art on the show. It looks like something on the sale rack at Z Galerie! I would put it lower, but there are artists whose horrible biographies mean they outrank this anonymous fool….
3. Bear Johnson, season 3, episode 4: “Boy, Girl, Boy, Girl”
In another episode that uses Charlotte’s gallery as an enticing melting pot, the gang attends the opening of photographer Bear Johnson’s “Drag Kings: The Collision of Illusion and Reality,” for which he’s dressed up women as men and photographed them. After the girls mutter million cringe-worthy remarks about “knowing how to be a woman,” Bear greets them with, “Am I rich yet?” He then utters, pretentiously, “I feel we have dual powers within each of us…Gender’s an illusion—sometimes a very beautiful illusion,” and then totally gives Charlotte a once-over. Soon after, he gets her to pose in drag. She’s like, “I am just so feminine!” but as soon as she swaps her Prada lipstick skirt for a suit and a giant sock, she’s game! Still, you’d think he’d be a little more, like, self-aware or at least less into using gender politics as a mask for his simplistic misogyny.
2. Alexander Petrovsky, season 6, multiple episodes
Alexander is the most-hated man in Sex and the City history, who is pretentious and self-centered and humorless and rich in the way you really hate people to be rich. He also has an obnoxious alarm system in his apartment, though perhaps that’s because he has to protect his art, which—very unpopular opinion here!!!—wasn’t that bad. His whole wall of lights thing in Paris? Pretty cool! The “Rain Room” of its time! Still, he was a bad man—but should an artist’s biography interfere with our opinion of his work, or not? Wow: this TV show, ahead of its time! Still, there is one artist whose personality and work and behavior makes him worse than even Alexander.
1. Barkley, season 1, episode 2: “Models and Mortals”
Barkley is a lame painter who spray paints pastel blobs, is very cute, and has no money—aka a classic New York boyfriend archetype. Plus, as Carrie says, “he’s never even sold a single painting.” But Barkley is like, a total sociopath: a serial modelizer, he refers to them as “things.” Then he tells Carrie a secret: “This is my real art,” he says, asking her to sit down, though says he can’t really show it to the public, “at least not yet.” It’s a wall’s worth of televisions simultaneously playing footage he’s secretly taken of himself having sex with models. HORRIFYING. Alexander may have been a lunatic, but Barkley should literally be in jail.