Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Salz on Art Criticism

Picked up from several places, yeah, everybody's talking about it. But, it's worth a read.

From Jerry Salz - Seeing Out Loud

The best critics look for the same things in contemporary criticism that they look for in contemporary art. But they also have an eye. Having an eye in criticism is as important as having an ear in music. It means discerning the original from the derivative, the inspired from the smart, the remarkable from the common, and not looking at art in narrow, academic, or "objective" ways. It means engaging uncertainty and contingency, suspending disbelief, and trying to create a place for doubt, unpredictability, curiosity, and openness.

Dishearteningly, many critics have ideas but no eye. They rarely work outside their comfort zone, are always trying to reign art in, turn it into a seminar or a clique, or write cerebral, unreadable texts on mediocre work. There's nothing wrong with writing about weak art as long as you acknowledge the work's shortcomings. Seeing as much art as you can is how you learn to see. Listening very carefully to how you see, gauging the levels of perception, perplexity, conjecture, emotional and intellectual response, and psychic effect, is how you learn to see better.

Edward Winkleman has a response. There's a pretty good discussion in the comment section.
With art, in New York City, there's no such guarantee you'll ever know [whether a critic liked a show], even when you know they saw it, even for the largest artists or most powerful galleries. If The New York Times, for example, on average, publishes 7 major reviews and two articles in each Friday edition, that totals about 470 reviews each year. The problem is there are more about 470 exhibitions per month*, meaning that more than 11/12ths of all exhibitions will not be reviewed in the Times. For the Village Voice, the number of reviews is fewer than half that. So if you are the lucky artist who gets a review, you've already beaten incredible odds. At that point, for the review to be unfavorable seems almost cruel.


At 10:39 AM, Anonymous susanplatt@speakeasy.net said...

Engaged Art Criticism. Thats what Jerry Salz does!

As a fellow art critic committed to engagement, I suggest that you see Olive Ayhens Extreme Interiors at
Frederieke Taylor until November 21

Susan Platt


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