13 December 2012

Art Criticism: The State of the Art?

"Without criticism, the only measure of value in art is money, and that measure has proven to be both fickle and stultifying. As a subject of inquiry, it’s a bore. I know why investment bankers and hedge fund managers prefer it, but why have artists put up with it for so long?" ~ David Levi Strauss
I began an earlier post with this same remark from David Levi Strauss. It seems appropriate, after my last post about the market for "art photography." But it also provides a useful segue into this one, which is meant to call attention to this forum at The Brooklyn Rail which has about three dozen critics - apparently because someone named Irving solicited their views - writing briefly about the state of the art, as it were. Here are a few passages from the contributors that seem to me worth thinking about.
"Art’s position vis-à-vis the market is the most important issue for art criticism to address today. Put in Andy Warhol lingo, the question is this: After “the best kind of art” becomes “business art,” what then? How can art possibly re-assume a critical position in the culture after the total commercialization of the avant-garde?" ~ Christian Viveros-Faune

"Bullied by conservative commentators, most academics no longer stress the importance of critical thinking for an engaged citizenry, and, dependent on corporate sponsors, most curators no longer promote the critical debate once deemed essential to the public reception of advanced art. Indeed, the sheer out-of-date-ness of criticism in an art world that couldn’t care less seems evident enough." ~ Hal Foster

"THANKS FOR THE INVITATION. I AM A WRITER. I HAVE WRITTEN A LOT ABOUT ART. I NO LONGER DO BECAUSE THE ART WORLD IS TOO STUPID. I DON’T KNOW ANY WORDS THAT ARE SHORT ENOUGH OR LONG ENOUGH. IT’S A DEAD PRACTICE BUT FUN WHILE IT LASTED. WITH AFFECTION," Dave Hickey

"We might want to separate criticism from theory, at least theoretical mumble-jumble, which certainly not all theory is. Criticism should be about good writing, insight, information, and anything else it can shoehorn in that’s pertinent. It should be bracing, not boring, more heterodox, eclectic, more social, more political, more about life, less about the academy."~ Lilly Wei
A lot of what the contributors say is uninteresting or silly. Some are waaayy too busy dropping names or being self-referential. And none of them, in the end, get it quite right, the way Levi Strauss does in the opening remark. Which is why I recycled it.

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