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.
This week, another reason to leave Facebook, who really invented democracy, and what is “Skimpflation”?
Your list of must-see, fun, insightful, and very Los Angeles art events this month, including Pope.L, Beatriz Cortez, Mika Rottenberg, and more.
International audiences have free access to the media collections of MMCA Korea, Sharjah Art Foundation, and ArkDes through this subscription-based art streaming platform.
The acclaimed composer and noise artist talks to Hyperallergic about his Pultizer Prize-winning composition “Voiceless Mass.”
Her works, depicting objects from Korean markets, invite viewers to marvel at what can be achieved with fabric.
Convened by Erika Sprey, Lamin Fofana, Sky Hopinka, Emmy Catedral, and Manuela Moscoso, the public program unfolds this summer at CARA in New York City.
Salonen’s paintings point to a location in which reality is slippery, ill-defined — a dream or place of play.
The Ancient Egyptian tomb of Khnumhotep and Niankhkhnum, one of the most intricate in the Saqqara necropolis, shows the pair holding hands and embracing.
The Bay Area art book fair is back this July with free programming at three different on-site venues, new exhibitors, and fundraising editions from renowned artists.
In another action yesterday, five members of the group were arrested after they glued themselves to a landscape painting in Scotland.
The New Museum, the American Museum of Natural History, and the Afro-Latin Jazz Alliance also received capital allocations in a “historic” round of funding from the Department of Cultural Affairs.
Your list of must-see, fun, insightful, and very New York art events this month, including Lee Lozano, Cindy Sherman, Tokuko Ushioda, Anas Albraehe, and more.