This week, The Stranger‘s art critic, Jen Graves, wrote a blog post titled, “Should We List Prices With Art Reviews?” When I first saw the headline, I had a knee-jerk reaction to the effect of, “No!!”
You’re digital! I’m digital! We’re all digital! No better way to stir the pot than to bring up the post-IRL condition that has us all confused: What does it mean that we spend so much time online? How are artists engaging technology? Everyone’s arguing, from the curmudgeonly Artforum-approved art historian Claire Bishop to curator Lauren Cornell and author Eleanor Heartney. Here’s what they’re saying.
As soon as we published Samantha Villenave’s essay “Kate Middleton Portrait Buzz: Art Criticism, Sexism, or Something Else?” (01/11/13), we immediately saw readers respond, particularly on Facebook.
VALENCE, France — The internet has its royal panties in a bustle, once again. Today’s unveiling of the portrait of Kate Middleton, or rather the British Duchess of Cambridge, met with gasps of horror, followed by a cascade of sarcastic media and Twitter wit. The subject of much of the outrage and verbal discourse being the pressing matter of whether artist Paul Emsley portrayed the future queen as being pretty enough.
Stendhal on Correggio, Baudelaire on Guys, Zola on Manet, Proust on Moreau. It’s a long-standing practice, French poets and novelists taking up art criticism. In the 20th century, the roster continues: Apollinaire,Breton, Leiris, Malraux, Sartre, Bataille, Bonnefoy, and there’s the French poet-painters: Picabia, Cocteau, Nouet, Jacob.
Is there such a thing as an independent art criticism? The Rotterdam-based Witte de With Center’s symposium I AM FOR AN ART CRITICISM THAT… tackles that topic and many others in a series of panels and discussions, livestreaming today.
Is it just me, or has art writing hit a little bit of a rough patch lately? Some verbal missteps by New York Times art critic Ken Johnson have triggered accusations of buried racism and sexism.
CHICAGO — A friend who was in London recently went to see what was on at the Tate Modern, and at the end of his visit he did something I never do: he went into the gift shop and bought something. “I’ve got something to show you, Philip!” he told me on his return. My heart sank. Was it a set of dinner plates decorated with Hirst’s diamond-encrusted skulls? An Ai Weiwei themed board game? Some other piece of dreadful museum kitsch?
At one point, Arts & Labor member Blithe Riley, who was in the audience at the round table, made a comment about “freaking out a little.” This highlighted the disconnect between the political and social aspirations of Arts & Labor and the general role of art critics for me.
The MFA program in Art Criticism & Writing is one of the only graduate writing programs in the world that focuses specifically on criticism. This program is not involved in “discourse production” or the prevarications of curatorial rhetoric, but rather in the practice of criticism writ large, aspiring to literature.
The practice of criticism involves making finer and finer distinctions among like things, but it is also a way to ask fundamental questions about art and life.
To see sample programs, faculty bios, news, the Degree Critical online journal and recordings of past lectures, go to artcriticism.sva.edu, or visit applyweb.com/apply/svag, to download the application.
‘Tis only a flesh wound! Newly-crowned Artinfo deputy editor Ben Davis (née Artnet) posts a rant about the State of Art Criticism, pointing out that even though serious criticism may look dead, it’s actually just become increasingly eclipsed by the more hit-friendly version of art writing he deems “art news.” Davis conflates this new world of web-based art criticism with a drop in quality, but I think serious criticism is actually more relevant now than ever. While we may not have journals full of October-style criticism, we do have an engaged community of artists, curators, reporters and critics who all contribute to a group dialogue that is a composite of so-called art criticism and art news.
She’s one of New York’s old skool art critics and has penned books on everyone from David Smith to Edward Gorey. An authority on 20th C. modernism, Karen Wilkin agreed to talk to Hyperallergic about her experience as a longtime observer of the art world and in the process she spoke about an art world “afraid of missing out on something,” and she offers some advice to aspiring critics.