Friday, April 15, 2005

I just checked ArtsJournal's home page and saw this mention of The Art Newspaper's article on critics by Marc Spiegler called "Do art critics still matter?" where he states
In the popular imagination, the art critic seems a commanding figure, making and breaking careers at will, but one hard look at today’s contemporary art system reveals this notion to be delusional.
Although he does admit that the delusion still operates on a functional level:
Granted, today’s critics still have the power of directing their spotlight. “I can’t tell you how often I go into a museum or gallery and have someone practically beg for coverage”, points out Tyler Green, the Bloomberg News art critic better known for his blog Modern Art Notes.
And oddly enough, Tyler Green's blog is hosted at ArtsJournal ... some nice circular references that support each others' publications. Who says the art world isn't chummy?

On a more serious note, he uses Clement Greenberg as a measuring stick and points out that we need people who can authoritatively make evaluations in the "now" who aren't in bed with the people making a business of art (collectors and gallery owners).
The art world, like any organism, requires a certain amount of pruning to stay healthy. So the disempowerment of critics—our putative pruners—should cause concern.
And in order to help critics do the necessary pruning, he thinks they need to learn how to write. Really.
Obviously, an unremitting emphasis on clear, compelling writing would give critics some chance of actually being read.
There you have it. Although I'm not clear on how such reading translates into a renewal of their power to prune?