February 24, 2005

A Slurry of Art Writing

Dan at Iconoduel is jetting off for a vacation and he leaves a few links to chew on in his wake, this from Terrece Hannum, who writes about the state of art writing today:

I am not writing this to lament the current state of criticism, because for all those lamentations (of which I too am guilty) writers seem to have responded and are filling up space with ridiculous cheerleading and show hopping appeasement. This is regardless of venue - artblog or art publication - virtual or physical. I think a large surprise of the internet age is that less sites post much that strays outside the party lines. These "critiques" are far cries from being critical of very much and instead enjoy a realm of complicity that erases any chance of actual criticism. I would rather there be less volume of writing that was of a better quality, analyses, and substance than the parade of what so-and-so did on such-and-such a night, or who is about to go huge, or some boring list, or how much something costs. I don't need to make the connection between art and commerce because how can the two really be separated? And I am not sure that they need to be. Rather does criticism need to be the lapdog of commerce? Of course the question hangs around; why all these words when all that is needed is an image, a description, and a price? Why have a review or express a lack of 'criticism' at all?

There's more where that came from.

Posted by Dennis at February 24, 2005 1:06 AM


Funny, I was thinking the same thing recently. I was reading the reviews in Art in America and noticed how utterly banal they are now compared with the mid-80's.

I've seen a similar lack of criticism in other art magazines, so I don't think it's simply AiA's editorial policy.

Writers I've been reading since forever, Stephen Westphal, Evelyn Heartney, Holland Cotter (or is he still writing? don't recall...); they now seem unwilling to write a negative review. Yet they once did this with pistol-packing panache.

I think there is a general awareness of trouble in the big art world, witness Hannum's words: "...lament the current state...". I see it all the time in the dialog, we all notice that something's missing.

(Lord help me, here comes a reference to... ZARDOZ!...)

We're like the Eternals living in the dome. Hot house flowers unable to leave the hydroponic santuary and return to the world outside. The best of us are incarcerated by forced aging, condemned to an endless senile party, and the rest of us are Apathetics, all zombied out. But where is our Aurthur Frame? And where is Zed?




"returning to a state of effective contradiction.." the reason it's been avoided is due to the prescription itself, stop thinking about "returning" and start thinking in the present as per "beginning" ...

Hey check out Peter Plagens' article in Feb. ArtForum, "At the Crossroads." Definitely worth your time.

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