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One of my favorite hobbies is to research the Western European art world of the 18th century. My interest in the period was first piqued by a professor at the University of Toronto, William McAllister Johnson, who introduced me to the glory of Enlightenment-era journalism, printing, and publishing. That decadent and tumultuous century witnessed the birth of what we would easily recognize today as art criticism and writing, yet it was a category of literature that was still in a nascent stage. Enlightenment-era darling Denis Diderot may get most of the credit for spawning art criticism but in reality it was the work of dozens of scribes, journalists, and critics who contributed to the development of the literary form.
In 1715, artist and writer Jonathan Richardson coined the term “art criticism” in his An Essay on the Theory of Painting. But it wasn’t until the late 18th century that newspapers, like The Morning Chronicle in London, began to write regularly about art exhibitions and happenings. The “modern artist” was beginning to appear regularly in the mass media of the period and became part of daily conversation in various ways. The Morning Post, a conservative London paper, also wrote about art and artists, and in reading their October 18, 1793 edition I recently came across this mention of “two eminent Artists” (notice the capitalization) in a curious brawl over the “personification of temperance.”
Are we to understand this “news” as real? Is it humorous hearsay? It seems too perfect that this quarrelsome pair would turn to violence after an argument about temperance, which, as you probably know, is defined as moderation or voluntary self-restraint. Many of the stereotypes of the contemporary artist are already evident in this short blurb. A drunk figure who frequents coffee shops and overreacts to an artistic matter could easily translate to our own time (though a string of insults on social media would probably replace the boxing match today).
What’s curious about this item is that we don’t know who won. My guess is they gave up after a few punches and continued drinking.
The University of Virginia researchers wrote that the data “provides compelling evidence that these symbols are associated with hate.”
We are waiting for spectacle and when the quotidian, yet incongruous actions occur I wonder whether there is any real payoff coming.
Hear from Holly Jean Buck, Carolina Caycedo and David de Rozas, Simon Denny, Elizabeth Hoover, Renee Kemp-Rotan, Joseph Kunkel, and more at this free public event.
Tanega’s approach to mark-making comes across as stream of consciousness, as if she’s engaged in a conversation with herself.
Starting Monday, readers can borrow one of 50 rare and out-of-print titles, mailed to them completely free of charge, from Saint Heron Library.
EFA Open Studios offers a portal into the creative habitats of over 65 artists working in Manhattan’s longest-running studio program, including Dannielle Tegeder, Wafaa Bilal, Cui Fei, and Anina Major.
This is Yuskavage’s great gift, turning upside down our settled ways of thinking and seeing and, with ease, transforming the vulgar and ridiculous into the sublime.
51 international publishers and galleries showcase their latest editions in prints and artists’ books at this free public fair, which is fully online this year.
While hardly about the pandemic, or any of the other crises so afflicting us, all are invoked in this exhibition, which is also often tender and profoundly soulful.
These glowing, dynamic artworks reproduce something of Bosch’s chaotic energy, but on an immersive, multi-sensory scale.
This week, addressing a transphobic comedy special on Netflix, the story behind KKK hoods, cultural identity fraud, an anti-Semitic take on modern art, and more.