Reactor

Required Reading [UPDATED]

by Hrag Vartanian on March 13, 2011

R. B. Kitaj, "The Killer-Critic Assassinated by His Widower, Even" (1997) (via Paris Review)

This week, we start with a number of items that have appeared in response to Hyperallergic posts over the last two weeks.

First is artist William Powhida‘s response to Rachel Wetzler‘s critical reviews (link) of I Like the Art World and the Art World Likes Me. In his disagree with Wetzler, he offers another reading of the exhibition, which he says, raises questions we are still uncomfortable to confront not only in the realm of art but life:

What the show makes clear after you have assessed the data and identified some problems, we are left still looking for ways to prompt action through provocation, debate, discussion in hopes that enough people might arrive at some tentative agreement to work towards solutions. This is why I think the show may leave you less than satisfied, because while the problems may seem self-evident, the established art world carries on if they aren’t.

UPDATE: In the comments of her post, Wetzler has responded to Powhida’s “Dear Rachel Wetzler” letter, it begins with a little disappointment:

Though I’m admittedly disappointed that I didn’t get a trademark Powhida skewering, I genuinely appreciate your response. Ideally, the purpose of criticism is to open up a dialogue, not to just throw down a definitive verdict about a show or a work of art …

Since we’re on the topic of Wetzler’s review, I want to take this opportunity to point out the post received the best comment we’ve been privileged to have on Hyperallergic in a quite while. It was submitted by Wat Tyler and starts with a quote from the post:

“a sense of anxiety or anger about the artists’ own marginalization and lack of mainstream success.”

You just described my life. I’m even bitter that I wasn’t invited to be in this exhibition, despite the fact that the organisers have never heard of me, and that I wouldn’t have accepted anyway, because I hate the art world so much.

Our post on “How to Sell an Animated GIF” during Armory Week, elicited many comments when it was posted, including from artist and blogger Tom Moody and artist Sara Ludy, but now Moody has blogged a few thoughts and suggestions, including this:

If there’s a reason for using a “democratic” medium only to elite-ify it for a select person I’d like to hear it.

Now onto other topics … William Benton writes in the New York Review of Books about renowned American poet Elizabeth Bishop’s other art:

Bishop’s paintings have much more in common with the work of a later generation of artists, who found in the post-modernism of the sixties and seventies the possibility of new ways of returning to figurative art … Bishop enjoyed being innovative and invisible at the same time. As a painter, she discovered in the limited range of her skills an intrinsic value. To see it made it so. Meyer Shapiro, the distinguished art critic, said she “writes poems with a painter’s eye.”

I can’t think of anything more lovely on a Sunday morning than reading poet John Ashbery’s words (circa 1981) about deceased painter R. B. Kitaj, which were reprinted in The Paris Review this week:

If his pictures could, in some cases, be illustrations for [T.S.] Eliot’s poetry, the poetry itself often sounds like an approximation of Kitaj’s brushwork …

Over at the Brooklyn Rail, artist and critic Shane McAdams shares his conservative thoughts on Banksy’s Exit Through the Gift Shop, though I disagree with some of what he writes (particularly what seems like disdain for street art and graffiti and its practitioners) I still think it’s valuable to explore opinions I don’t agree with:

Street artists like Banksy, Invader, and Neckface are prefigured by Situationists like René Viénet and Guy Debord who saw interventionism as a purely political act meant to confront and subvert the stultifying, commercialized metropolis. This was in the late 1960s in France, when the stakes were high and the avant-garde in Europe was healthy. Since then, those strategies have become an open source playbook for anyone, from advertisers to narcissistic urchins to legitimate artists, to use as a guide for colonizing one’s consciousness. And by the looks of the 2011 cityscape, they all have.

Is contemporary art the new Mannerism? Ben Street, writing for the Art:21 blog, thinks there are a lot of affinities between the 16th C. art style and today’s art.

A Q&A with the meglomaniac that was the former Antiquities Minister of Egypt, Zahi Hawass … I have to say that it really takes a big ego to publish an interview with yourself on your own blog.

Required Reading is published every Sunday morning at 7am-ish EST, and it is comprised of a short list of art-related links (10 or less) to long-form articles, videos, blog posts or photo essays worth a second look.

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