Monday, August 08, 2005

our greatest critics

First Roberta Smith spends half a NYTimes article reviewing the catalogue(!) and "preening, self-important personality" of Jean Helion and now Charlie Finch reviews the catalogue ONLY of Albright-Knox's Extreme Abstraction. What are you, bloggers?? Why does Roberta's review of Helion make me think that the more obsequious an artist might be the more likely she is to say something positive?

Finch calls one painting "stunning", another "lush", another "surprising" - and adds "as with all great curations, "Extreme Abstraction" compels you to re-examine artists you may dislike or ignore."

Wow! You guys are great! Super! The bar is set so high!

P.S. The Albright-Knox website lists one of the Extreme Abstraction artists as "Arthuro" Herrera. I have a funny related Arturo Herrera story. How elegant!


Anonymous said...

Yes, its weird to reveiw a show based on a catalog. Charlie Finch is a rank, bloviating train wreck of a man. He also has no eye, is pretty sexist, and relentlessly gets his facts wrong so I really don't think it makes a lick of difference whether he saw the show or not. I don't know if he is considered a real critic or a gossip columnist.
Roberta Smith did write about that work and seems like the catalog got in the way of her seeing the show. It seemed like she was taking the curators to task for including all of those quotes from the artist which did to me sound pretty annoying. Some artist are better not quoted.

Anonymous said...

Dear Martin,

Thanks for bringing this to our attention. I’m thinking about gluing my photographs in a Cracker Barrel Old Country Store catalogue and mailing it to Roberta Smith and Charlie Finch to review. The exhibition will be the catalogue. No doubt they've never been to a Cracker Barrel and will find the mythological imagery fascinating and thus open the catalogue to discover that it's really an exhibition. I think we’re in ground-breaking territory here that holds many advantages for artists – think of the savings to artists and low-budget art centers now that it’s no longer necessary to spend money catering opening receptions that these art critics aren’t going to attend anyway? Invitations as passe - catalogues are the wave of the future!


Anonymous said...

uh..Roberta Smith did go to the exhibition before she reveiwed the show.

Anonymous said...

Could there be any remaining question that current art criticism ranges between mere adequacy to sheer inanity? Kuspit drones endless connections so faint and obscure that they can be shared and enjoyed by perhaps 3 other people on Earth. Matthew Collings is at least conversational and readable, if somewhat fashion-bratty. And then there are all these lost in-betweeners, the Finches and Smiths, who are enough to turn Mr. Hand into Mr. Fist.

The few truly useful art critics remaining, for me, are the artist-critics, in particular Joe Fyfe, Chris Martin, and Stephen Westfall (does Westfall still write?), and, to some degree, Eleanor Heartney.

Bill Gusky

Martin said...

Anonymous #2 - I think we understand that Roberta went to the show, just saying that the first half of the review is all about the catalogue and what a wanker the artist supposedly was. Who cares?

Bill Gusky - I agree, the artist-critics are generally my favorites. I knew Chris Martin was an excellent painter (thanks to James Wagner and Roberta Fallon) but hadn't known he was also an art writer - thanks! All three of those guys are good painters - Stephen Westfall's "Dogwood" at Lennon Weinberg was a recent Chelsea standout for me. Merlin James would be another one from that crowd - he recently reviewed Helion on artcritical.com.

Okay, that is four painters who also write art criticism - mostly about other painters. What about non-painters? Artists in other mediums?

When is artcritical going to update???

Anonymous said...

What about female artist-critics? I hate this crowd of guys idea.

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