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This video is a tall glass of cool water and worth your time just to learn the six types of art bollocks (more commonly known as “artspeak”).

Sure the art world is plagued with artspeak but I don’t think it’s the only aspect of society infested with this meaningless language — remember truthiness?

Charlotte Young, who is speaking in the video, makes an important point about artspeak, which is the fact that it flourishes where there are no facts or solid opinions involved. I would add that artspeak thrives when people aren’t held accountable for their ideas, words and actions.

And what were those six types of artspeak?

  1. The Uncertainty Principle
  2. “Great” Art
  3. The Comfort of Mediocrity
  4. Nothing to Say and Saying It
  5. Conditionals
  6. Banality, The Critic’s Friend

And the Golden Rule:

Don’t write (or speak) facts or opinions: these are too easily challenged. Write/talk concepts. Any concepts.


Via Art Bollocks (or Stupid Kunst) – by Charlotte Young from chichard41 on Vimeo.

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Hrag Vartanian

Hrag Vartanian is editor-in-chief and co-founder of Hyperallergic. You can follow him at @hragv.

9 replies on “You Stupid Kunst”

  1. Hmmm, I bitch about “the comfort of mediocrity” all the time, especially when people can’t draw. Guess I’m guilty of artspeak?

  2. Seems like it’s getting to the point where there are more people complaining about artspeak than actually speaking it. Sort of like right-wingers complaining about political correctness in the 90s (which hasn’t really stopped). 
    Generally, calling bullshit on art is about as new and clever as jokes about airplane food. I wonder if she thinks there’s too many Starbucks.

    1. Do you read gallery press releases or artist statements? If you do, then you’ll notice it’s a MAJOR MAJOR issue. Also, many art magazines (especially Artforum) are fluent in this language.

      1. Good point. I live in a small city so it’s probably a lot easier for me to avoid all that nonsense than if I lived in a bigger city. Nevertheless, that seemed like a bunch of cheap shots culminating in an argument against difficult ideas. And using Bachelard as an example was just wrong. That guy is so clearly on the good team. 

  3. Artspeak is only a problem when it is used incorrectly, as a crutch, or is just plain incoherent like, say… making a presentation using only a series of unrelated quotes taken out of context and paired with nonsensical google image search results.

  4. woody allen would love this. His greatest conflict as an artist is this; to understand how to be specific about creation, sans pomp. 

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