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Post #340 • August 6, 2004, 8:23 AM • 12 Comments

Nicholas Spangler for the Miami Herald: Mr. Happy Cat: Romero Britto may not be a critics' darling, but pop-art consumers are going dotty over his creations.

The Miami Herald: Spotlight on Visual Arts: Jean Pierre Rousselet.

Alfredo Triff for the Miami New Times: The Case for Critics: There must be more than simple judgments of good or bad.

Michael Mills for the Broward/Palm Beach New Times: Artbeat: American Seascapes: Artists at the Shore.

Gary Schwan for the Palm Beach Post: The woman in the mirror.

Gary Schwan for the Palm Beach Post: Animal art needs something special and, apparently, rare.




August 6, 2004, 4:36 PM

Not much to pick on here. I don't think Britto's work is really worth talking about as art; he does what he does and seems to be very good at it, but trying to evaluate it as art is a waste of time. The Rousselet interview is bland and the two pictures reproduced are bright, graphic, cold and vacuous. The seascape show seems to have some interesting stuff; he mentions a couple pretty good artists, and also Jane Peterson, about whom we seldom hear but is worth seeing. The ever-lively Gary Schwan slogs through some animal art - it must have been a painful assignment - and the photographs of Florence Henri, which I am not familiar with.

The only heavy here is Alfredo Triff, making a "Case for Critics", which does little else but provide a venue for him to parade his erudition. It is not uninteresting, but the subheading "There must be more than simple judgments of good or bad" gives it away as yet another repeat of the "many points of view" point of view, which by now has become so tired it needs to be put on the shelf. Great critics have great eyes and they see what is best and say so with clarity and authority, and the art they point to (which is the only real job of the critic) becomes part of our cultural heritage and the rest goes away. There is nothing fair or dispassionate or impartial or nondiscriminatory or conditional or relativistic about it.



August 6, 2004, 7:46 PM

Well, Oldpro, my response to the Triff piece was similar to yours. He apparently means well, but the last thing I want from a critic is wishy-washy, nebulous, tentative, "objective" writing. If s/he can't take a definite stand and make a good case for it, s/he's in the wrong business. A critic, any critic, can be wrong--it's happened to the very best. That's why the reader should not be a passive recipient but should judge the critic, and, in effect, function as the final arbiter in the matter at hand. That's my approach, at any rate. I don't look to anybody to make up my mind for me, but rather to stimulate (and, ideally, enhance) my own judgment.



August 6, 2004, 8:33 PM

Jack, I have noticed that you are a much more aggressively independent observer that most people, and I wouldn't expect everyone to be that way, but I suspect that if a person is reading the paper and if they bother to look at the art section that even the most timid among them would appreciate a little more description and direction, better writing and a better choice of subjects than they are getting, especially in the Herald, which is our daily paper, after all. There seems to be some lack of confidence and clear footing, as if they do not know their constituency. It's not as if art advertising means much to them, and anyway, if there were a more lively art section it would draw readership and advertising, not chase it away. There is simply no excuse for the kind of bland pap we see exemplified by Turner's comment on Britto and the Rousselet interview and the stuff Franklin has had to put up in these Roundups to represent the level of art writing around here.



August 6, 2004, 8:53 PM

The Herald is also picking up AP art stories - usually about shows outside of Miami, but I decided not to link to them because, well, why bother? They don't tell you what's going on down here and often they've been sliced up like they've been lying on a sushi bar.


that guy in the back row

August 7, 2004, 2:33 AM

Thank you Affredo Triff for finally coming clean with your muddled incoherent views. Now if your editors would only read it and ask you to resign, we would be getting somewhere beyond your inability to seek out the best new art in town. Your job is still to go out there and rustle up something worth looking at. However much you would like to hide from this critical task. Not sure which dictionary you are working out of, but mine defines critics as persons who evaluate and report on the worth of something. Try it, it works. Go get em Tiger. Better luck next time.



August 7, 2004, 7:05 AM

I chose to waste the time it took to read the Herald pieces linked above. Britto may be rolling in money, but he still sounds quite pathetic. The Rousselet article reads for all the world like an advertisement for the guy, complete with an e-mail address at which he can be contacted. It raises a strong suspicion that he may know the writer, or somebody at the Herald, and got free promotion thinly disguised as an "interview." Regardless of whether or not my suspicion is correct, no decent editor should have approved the piece as published, if nothing else because it IS suspicious, and thus potentially damaging to the Herald's image (of course, being more or less the only game in town may have something to do with such carelessness). There's no point commenting on Rousselet's work, other than to say he can comfortably be spoken of in the same breath as his countryman, Othoniel, he of the giant glass knick-knacks. Othoniel, in turn, can be spoken of in the same breath as Britto.



August 7, 2004, 2:48 PM

You must be out of breath, Jack.



August 7, 2004, 2:56 PM

Jack, the Rousselet piece is part of a new Herald project that they're calling South Florida's Indie Spotlight. The very idea is a failure at trying to be cool, but it also looks like the execution isn't panning out.



August 8, 2004, 3:22 AM

"Indie", as I understand it, indicates something made without the backing of an established producer. I understand it when used to describe movies and music, but I don't see how it applies to art. Unless there is something someone hasn't told me, we are all "Indies",



August 9, 2004, 12:30 AM

What's up guys I'm knew to this thing so I'll introduce myself: I'm a painter, I'm broke and I live in Miami. Exciting, I know. Anway, I was thinking some of you guys were missing Alfredo Triff's point, then I got to the end of his article. At first it seemed as though he was saying an art critic shouldn't limit his reviews to declaring something is just "good or bad" but offer a more rounded critique of the work. This obviously is true or atleast expected from a published art critic. My question is, why is Triff even making this point? Is it in response to some bad review work out there? Or maybe Triff just felt like stating the obvious becuase he had nothing better to write about. Also towards the end he seems to whine a bit about the burden of the possibilty that he might label something as bad art, becuase he missed something in it and it turns out that it truly isn't bad art. Well Alfredo, as someone already stated even the most reveared art critics make mistakes and all artists should understand its o.k. to make mistakes; some of us even count on it.
Ok with all that said, I happen to like Triff and I know he Does take definite stands on art (both for and against) eventhough may not sound like it in this article. He is also alot more involved in the promotion and overall appreciation of art culture in our city than many of our other critics. Which are actually not many.

Anyhow, the other articles I read were the Brito comment, and the Rousselet interview. Rousselet expresses himself and his interest in painting well but I can't say much for his paintings. They look like interior decorating of the 1980's...bad interior decorating. Woops theres that whole "good or bad" thing. Let me address there failure in a different way. He states he doesn't want people to have to think about his paintings.
He would be alot more succesful at this if he just didn't make them.



August 9, 2004, 1:33 AM

I know, Eddie. If he didn't make the paintings no one would have to think about them, not even him. I think your take on them - including the interior decoration comparison - was accurate.

I understand that Triff is very involved, and from what I have read he is conscientious, knowledgeable and careful about what he says. These are virtues and much to be preferred to ignorance and dogmatic factionalism, of course. On the other hand I get the feeling that these very virtues can be a liability when the subject in question (art) is so much a question of value, and the job of the critic is so much a matter of discerning value and pointing it out to us. Most of the art we are shown is very bad, so the nasty necessity of ranking and culling will end up with almost everything on the cutting room floor. You can't do this and be mister nice guy.



August 9, 2004, 6:46 AM

Yeah that's a good point oldpro. Shooting down a large percentage of artwork is a necessary evil I suppose. The only way to weed out the less ambitious stuff. And really not so evil if you know how to take negative criticism.



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