Sunday, April 06, 2008

It's not a good time to be an art critic

It's not a good time to be an art critic. Much of what's written is pale. It is weak and descriptive to no purpose. Or at the other extreme it is pure jargon, laughable if read aloud to the uninitiated. Junk. In fact, if art critics actually believed that anything we said or wrote mattered, we would probably be shooting ourselves in droves.
Read Morgan Meis' really good article here... and if you don't even want to waste a few seconds to click onto the link... read some more:
Even a knowledge of art history antique and contemporary won't help you much. These days art isn't an insiders game so much as a contest in private languages. The artists are often working in their own heads and they don't feel much compulsion to translate.

This puts the critic and the curator in a hilarious position. Stripped of most of our authority, we fall back on tortured syntax and dubious vocabulary in order merely to say, in essence, that it is tough to talk about art these days. Here's a typical sentence from the Biennial catalog: "Charles Long's interest in opposing formal and metaphysical forces informs a complex sculptural lexicon marked by radical stylistic shifts that are difficult to categorize."

The simple translation of this sentence: "Help, I don't really know what Charles Long is doing or why."
Read it here.