When critics, gallerists, curators or artists get their knickers in a knot over the need to promote traditional - generally figurative - art as an antidote to the rising tide of decadent, superficial, sensationalist hucksterism, they are relegating themselves to crackpot status. The issue isn't so much the viability of figurative work, as the mainstream art world easily embraces a handful of token figure painters like Elizabeth Peyton or John Curran [sic] every few years. Nor is it merely the fact that they are swimming against the tide of Modernism with its utopian sense of inevitability and its flagship aesthetic of reductive minimalism. What truly isolates them is the siege mentality with which they declare their dedication to representational craftsmanship, a passionate testifying that is out of place in the convivial social whirl of the art marketplace.Harvey rants against "sixty-something New York based art critic Donald Kuspit" here, as if Kuspit's age has anything to do with his views.
It's all supposed to be a review of a show curated by Kuspit called "California New Masters" at Gallery C in Hermosa Beach, but ends up being somewhat a tirade against Kuspit and Kuspit's opinions on modern art and it even crosses into diminishing the exhibition space and showing a crack in California'a art armor and inferiority complex with NYC:
Kuspit can hardly be described as an art-world outsider, though. A contributing editor to Artforum and several other major art magazines, professor of art history and philosophy at SUNY Stony Brook, and the author of a score of books as well as the official Encyclopedia Britannica entry on art criticism, Kuspit is more of an insider than most Duchamp scholars will ever be. In Columbia University's National Arts Journalism Program's 2002 survey of visual-arts critics, he ranked as the 33rd most influential art theorist in all of history. Still, when the opportunity came for Kuspit to curate an exhibition demonstrating the kind of work he believes offers "the possibility of making a new aesthetic harmony out of the tragedy of life, without falsifying it," that opportunity was nowhere in or around Manhattan, but in the unlikely community of Hermosa Beach in a clean, well-funded space called Gallery C.Does that mean that it can only make an art statement in Manhattan?
Harvey doesn't like Kuspit's views on modern art and uses the unfair broad brush of generalizing, which is his right as a writer and critic, as as he clearly submits that he's partially in the right side of the argument because he is an artist: "it has been my impression from my own study of art history, my experience as an artist (I myself am a Master of the Fine Arts)..." blah, blah, blah...
People on either side of this "argument" are not crackpots; they are people with opinions, just like Harvey. The "argument," by the way, doesn't really exist other than in the words of puerile writing like Harvey's (in this case - I've never read Harvey's writing before, do not know it, nor him and will not paint all of his writing with one adjective) and fools like me who bite this kind of hook every time.
Me? Mossback and Crackpot and proud of it! And I guess I'll miss the "convivial social whirl of the art marketplace."