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Post #921 • December 13, 2006, 10:59 AM • 61 Comments

..is resting.

In 1923, Marcel Duchamp staged a retirement from art-making, supposedly to work on his chess game. Me, I'm going to brush up on my go.

At least through the end of the week.

I left Miami with the idea that I would pursue a dual career as an artist and art critic. Recent events, culminating in Art Basel/Miami Beach, have demonstrated to me that I'm going to have to pick one or the other. They're contradictory exercises, professionally and temperamentally. I'm an artist, so that's that. I told people at the fairs and the ICA that I would cover them. I'm sorry, but I changed my mind. I threw away my notes and everything.

Realizing this, well, let's just say that it induced a few of days of intense rumination. I have no regrets about anything I've done, and a sense of relief comes with a correction of course, even if accompanied by the knowledge that a shorter, straighter route lay open all along. What I elected to do, I did well and with gusto.

Artblog.net will persist in a form more agreeable to my studio practice, extending from it somehow. I'll write, but as an artist, not a critic. The blog will likely become even more painting-oriented and even less with-it, as it adopts a meandering, yet monomaniacal attitude, all but ignoring current events, which is how I get when I'm on an art-making bender.

A conversation needs to take place about the declining fortunes of art criticism: its ceding of the field to journalism and apologetics. The art system has become impervious to hard questions about integrity and success that criticism ought to be asking with more force. But I can't be a part of it - I have a horse in this race. Pardon me while I go bring some oats to the studio. Best wishes, and thanks, to all of you.

Comment

1.

Caleb

December 13, 2006, 11:31 AM

Any man who may come in here and try to assualt your opinion is a fool.

I guess the true respect lies in the fact that you did take the step and make a decision. Blessings on the new road.

2.

Marc Country

December 13, 2006, 1:02 PM

R.I.P.

3.

Arthur Whitman

December 13, 2006, 1:25 PM

I trust that you're saying that being an artist-critic is merely difficult, and not impossible. (Of course, difficulty can be a sufficient reason to stop.) The professional contradiction is obvious, but what exactly is the temperamental one? Don't artists criticize--both their own work and others?

4.

catfish

December 13, 2006, 2:03 PM

A conversation needs to take place about the declining fortunes of art criticism


Art criticism never had much in the way of fortune as far as I know.

5.

opie

December 13, 2006, 2:06 PM

meandering and monomaniacal suits me just fine.

6.

Bunny Smedley

December 13, 2006, 2:10 PM

Writing will always be there in the future, when it's the medium that's right for what you need to do. There is nothing more pointless than trying to do critical writing if your heart isn't in it.

I agree with Caleb. Deciding what you want to do is often the hardest part of doing anything. At any rate, please do let us know how you're getting on - and, obviously, good luck with it all.

7.

jordan

December 13, 2006, 2:35 PM

Yah, painting!

8.

Franklin

December 13, 2006, 2:51 PM

Don't artists criticize--both their own work and others?

They do, but petty hatreds and unjustifiable loves that are unbecoming in a critic are a necessary part of an artist's inclinations. I'll continue to criticize to the extent that it helps me think about art, but I am stepping out of the role of capital-C Critic, and the title's implications of fair-mindedness and responsibility. I relinquish efforts to make my writing strive for either. As a critic, that wouldn't be right. As an artist, it's fine.

9.

Arthur Whitman

December 13, 2006, 3:17 PM

They do, but petty hatreds and unjustifiable loves that are unbecoming in a critic are a necessary part of an artist's inclinations

I think they're unbecoming if you put them up front and in the center. Indeed, a Critic should strive to be open-minded and go beyond idiosyncratic likes and dislikes. But it also seems disingenuous to me to pretend that criticism is a wholly neutral, disinterested affair. The critic is a judge, but also somebody who takes genuine pleasure (or displeasure) in artworks, just like anybody else. So it seems like there should be a middle ground, a way of letting two voices speak.

10.

opie

December 13, 2006, 3:41 PM

"The critic is a judge, but also somebody who takes genuine pleasure (or displeasure) in artworks"

There's a difference?

11.

catfish

December 13, 2006, 3:57 PM

Open mindedness, fairness, responsiblity and the like are not really relevant to being a good critic. You need just threequalities: a good eye, honesty to that eye, and skill in writing clear prose.

12.

Arthur Whitman

December 13, 2006, 4:04 PM

There's a difference?

Yes. There is a difference between recognizing that something is tasteful, well-conceived, and well built and being deeply passionate about it.

13.

opie

December 13, 2006, 4:38 PM

Well, that's different, I suppose, but isn't it more to the point to just say I like it so i think it is good? (I don't think "deep passion" has to be invoked). Otherwise aren't you making judgements outside of your perceptions?

We just had a form of such a discussion re Currin; several people thought he was a "good painter" but did not like his pictures much. I don't think he is that good a painter and I don't like his pictures much. If I thought he was a good painter I would like his pictures. Same goes for, say, Andrew Wyeth and others. I don't quite understand these separate judgements. For me it is all one thing.

14.

Franklin

December 13, 2006, 4:51 PM

Open mindedness, fairness, responsiblity and the like are not really relevant to being a good critic. You need just three qualities: a good eye, honesty to that eye, and skill in writing clear prose.

This is absolutely right, but the role nevertheless has baggage. This is more a professional issue than a temperamental one, I guess.

15.

Arthur Whitman

December 13, 2006, 5:27 PM

Opie,

I mentioned "deep passion" so as to make my distinction as clear as possible. Of course, in practice things are much blurrier. But I think that as an elaboration of Franklin's "professional" distinction between artist and critic, it makes some sense. Speaking as an artist turned Critic, I would say that yes, there are things I really hate and that yes, I would call these things bad art. And there are things that I find fascinating and would call good art without hesitation. But there are also things in the middle. It may hard to find something specific to object to, but the artwork just doesn't inspire another look.

16.

Hans

December 13, 2006, 5:35 PM

Hi Franklin,

I didn't realize you as an Art Critic. But as a painter, who also blogs. I am convinced, that these days even a purebred art critic can not make a living alone on his single blog. Somebody who combines almost perfectly his passion with blogging is the good known http://edwardwinkleman.blogspot.com/
But it seems, that his priority is still the Gallery Business and the love to Art and next to it comes the blogging (This may change in the future).

I think and hope, you come back to blogging soon, as your voice is heard all over the world and it is some of the finest Art blogs I know and it was always so refreshing not to read about the latest changing of this or that artists market value. Yes, right, post more of your new works, but do not forget your reflections.

By the way, how do you like Tomma Abts ? ( I really like her works a lot)

Best regards,

Hans

17.

Hovig

December 13, 2006, 5:42 PM

To a certain extent a critic is also expected to review shows they would not otherwise have chosen to attend. As an artist first, you can review shows or works that are meaningful to you, are relevant to your practice, or pique your curiosity. By discussing what's important to you and your work, you open yourself up to the critical feedback you find valuable, and give yourself a type of publicity that supports your own practice, rather than the type that supports your ability to give an opinion upon demand. The only question is how far you'll open up your studio door to the public.

18.

opie

December 13, 2006, 5:50 PM

Good, bad & middling sounds OK to me, Arthur. I was just concerned about the implication that a critic should say something is "good" without having a direct experience that says "good" loud & clear. No critic wirth his salt should ever accept as good any art that doesn't do it for him.

As a qualifier, there are are a a few artists and works which people who have eyes agree are good and although they don't come across as being bad I just can't see what is so good about them. I am willing in those cases to simply reserve judgement.

19.

Franklin

December 13, 2006, 7:51 PM

But as a painter, who also blogs.

In that case, Hans, I have arrived where you already find me.

By discussing what's important to you and your work, you open yourself up to the critical feedback you find valuable, and give yourself a type of publicity that supports your own practice, rather than the type that supports your ability to give an opinion upon demand.

That sums it up better than I said it myself. I'm going to be discussing the work of other people in support of mine, even if indirectly.

The only question is how far you'll open up your studio door to the public.

Wait til you see the webcam!

20.

lola

December 13, 2006, 9:56 PM

What is the best frame speed?

21.

jordan

December 13, 2006, 10:08 PM

I'm going to be discussing the work of other people in support of mine, even if indirectly.

Franklin, in terms of appearance, practice, medium,format, scale, content or process?
Or all of the above?
Are you continuing with making clean sellable work or expressive paintings?

22.

ahab

December 13, 2006, 11:36 PM

What I elected to do, I did well and with gusto.

Did you ever, Franklin.

All together now, in the key of F major: "FOR...he's a jolly-good fellow, for he's a jolly-good fellow, for he's a jolly-good fellow...which nobody can deny." (Anybody does, you sends 'em to me, see.) "WHI...ch nobody can deny, which nobody can deny - for he's a jolly-good feLLOW...which nobody can deny!"

Unless he drops the Friday Roundup.

23.

jordan

December 14, 2006, 12:46 AM

Ahab, I'm not sure what you are getting at here...

24.

ahab

December 14, 2006, 1:02 AM

Just sing along, Jordan, just sing along.

25.

sedg

December 14, 2006, 5:59 AM

F, You can now have time to improve your art, I hope, for your sake.

26.

Franklin

December 14, 2006, 7:04 AM

Are you continuing with making clean sellable work or expressive paintings?

I'll believe that they're sellable when I sell one of the damn things.

I have doubts about that whole "expressive" thing. Are they really more expressive because the paint's thicker and put down faster? I see it as the difference between yelling and singing.

You can now have time to improve your art, I hope, for your sake.

Me too, Sedg. Me too. What improvements would you recommend?

27.

Marc Country

December 14, 2006, 9:51 AM

C'mon, F-man, you know better than to ask or concrete examples from commenters like 'sedg'... If you haven't figure that out by now... I don't know... maybe you should take a break from this 'blogging' thing.

As for your paintings, Franklin, I think both styles are singing ('yelling' doesn't do justice to the complexity and consideration that is evident in either).

As for 'sellable', well, "March: Nude (B.R.)" looks at least as 'sellable' as "Artist and Model" (Hey, I guess you already DID sell the earlier work... so much for the new stuff being more 'sellable').

28.

beWare

December 14, 2006, 9:56 AM

one day we will put it all behind we'll say that was just another time we'll say that was just another day on earth

it's just another day

29.

Franklin

December 14, 2006, 1:42 PM

BeWare is quoting from the title track of a wonderful eponymous album, which I have added to the bookstore.

30.

Marc Country

December 14, 2006, 4:49 PM

Hey Franklin,
What about taking a break from the daily blogging grind, get back to the studio, focusing on painting, and in your off-moments, whenever the writer's urge strikes, you could tinker around with a slightly different project... something book-length, perhaps?
A series of essays, maybe? A "Homemade Esthetics" a la Einspruch? I'm sure, over the years of running artblog.net, you've got reams of archived material (a range of aesthetic arguments and counter-arguments, ec.) that could be built into something a publisher might be interested in...?
"A conversation needs to take place about the declining fortunes of art criticism...", this might be one way to get the dialogue going.

31.

jordan

December 14, 2006, 6:08 PM

Franklin, I'm sure that many people admire your work, sellable or not. I'm one of them.

32.

Franklin

December 14, 2006, 6:14 PM

Thank you Jordan. Your opinion counts more than most.

... something book-length, perhaps?

Hmmm...

33.

Bill

December 14, 2006, 8:16 PM

A gallery in [Vladivostok] that specializes in American Art.

34.

Jessica

December 14, 2006, 8:19 PM

Bill, thank you for suggesting [that gallery in Vladivostok]. Their art exhibitions are very amazing and entertaining. [Ooh! Sock puppet spam! That's a new one. - F.]

35.

necee

December 15, 2006, 9:35 AM

wow. i turn my back for a couple of weeks and THIS happens.

anyway, franklin, as one who knows the challenges of trying to do too many things and do them well, i understand your decision to dedicate yourself to one path. though i doubt you'll be able to keep your two-cents to yourself and your fingers away from the keyboard...but at least the pressure will be off. (that would be the pressure you put on yourself!)

so: hooray. happy painting this winter. nothing better than the glum, gloomy days of winter in boston to make one hunker down and work. see you & supergirl when the snows melt. (metaphorically for now, as it's been a balmy december.)

36.

beWare

December 15, 2006, 10:02 AM

If the art shown this past weekend represents the best we got, I say we are in a whole heap a' trouble.

Contemporary avant garde music is doing a much better job of keeping the ball rolling!

What do you say?

37.

Marc Country

December 15, 2006, 10:13 AM

... Maybe, but, of course, people still listen to music in much the same way as they always have; whereas, many people don't really look at art anymore...

38.

Curious

December 15, 2006, 10:20 AM

I've read your exhibition reviews and this blog daily for over a year and have really enjoyed your voice and writing style. [for example the recent Sensorium review]. You made some very funny, clear and concise observations and remarks.

I may not have agreed with your opinions, but I have appreciated your ability to clearly express yourself.

I've also seen your ink drawings, recent paintings [on line] and your past work at Dorsch.

Your visual work offers me less enjoyment and benefit, but I understand your need to do what you enjoy.

I'll miss your writing and perhaps your visual work will eventually strike me as useful and engaging.

good luck.

39.

Franklin

December 15, 2006, 10:28 AM

One of the reasons that I have a semi-regular Department of Skills feature in the roundup is because it shows how distant art has become from every other creative effort pursued and presented for the sake of human delight, including music. I really have been playing Go lately, online, where you can witness high-ranking players rip at each other, and it's amazing to watch them. I've been learning a new programming language, and I'm convinced that what we think of as intelligence in the art world wouldn't get you through two years of a good BS program in computer science. There is amazing music out there that doesn't make excuses for itself and is great fun to listen to. The amount of art in the world that matches the levels of entertainment, intelligence, or skill achieved by average practitioners of the above disciplines is galling tiny.

Thought I would mention that new content is slated for Monday.

40.

opie

December 15, 2006, 10:41 AM

You are absolutely right. The permissiveness of the artworld catches the bottom feeders, those who want to be "famous" but have neither the intelligence, talent or energy to get there.

41.

Curious

December 15, 2006, 11:04 AM

...and one more thing, Thank you for exposing me to world of GO, my seven year old son and I are looking forward to learning. I printed out a PDF file of instructions, we have been playing alot of chess and GO seems like a perfect addition to our weekend activities.
Chess
Parcheesi
Dominos
Checkers
and now GO!
thanks a million.

42.

Franklin

December 15, 2006, 11:26 AM

Go's a great game. If you're interested, the online go takes place at IGS Pandanet, where hundreds of players of all levels are on at any given time. I just played someone from Czech Republic last night. They have a really slick client as well, complete with audio for when the stones hit the board. Enjoy!

43.

Franklin

December 15, 2006, 11:31 AM

IGS Pandanet also has an art gallery.

44.

ALBERT ZAPRESKO

December 15, 2006, 11:49 AM

yOU SOUND LIKE A N ART CRITIC.
iAM 90 YEARS SOLD. CAN i SEND A PAINTING FOR COMMENT.
ALL IN FUN OF CQURSE.

45.

Franklin

December 15, 2006, 12:05 PM

yOU SOUND LIKE A N ART CRITIC.

I apologize.

46.

George

December 15, 2006, 12:30 PM

F. I've been learning a new programming language,

Care to state which one? I promise I won't comment on it's "visibility"

47.

Franklin

December 15, 2006, 12:49 PM

Python. Actually, I've been switching off between that and javascript, a horrible, horrible affair, but the only game in town for browser behavior.

48.

George

December 15, 2006, 1:02 PM

I read via Digg that YouTube is written in Python.

I don't have a dev setup for javascript and without one it seemed brutal to code.

Did you learn Ruby?

49.

Franklin

December 15, 2006, 1:23 PM

Significant parts of Google are written in Python too. Reddit is built on web.py, which is significant because they imported it from Lisp. Blender is a Python app. Python also has the coolest-named framework in existence: Django.

If you're using FireFox, there's a native Javascript console and ton of dev plugins, notably Firebug. Javascript is still brutal to code.

I couldn't get my head around Ruby. For reasons still unclear to me, Python is much easier for me to understand.

50.

Jack

December 15, 2006, 6:43 PM

I hate to depart from this fascinating computer programming chit chat, but someone has to do it. In a newly announced development, which is presumably relevant for the Miami art scene, MAM and MAC have formed a more or less official partnership. Go here:

http://www.miami.com/mld/miamiherald/entertainment/16243534.htm

Everyone, of course, is thrilled to bits and vigorously cheerleading. I, on the other hand, insist on the proof of the pudding becoming material reality that can be seen and experienced, as opposed to theoretical projections that anybody can concoct and launch like smoke rings. But I I'm funny that way.

51.

Franklin

December 15, 2006, 6:49 PM

I saw that. Personally, I fail to see how this is going to make the art world a better place, or even a different one.

52.

miami artist

December 15, 2006, 9:25 PM

Tonight
form is norm
and night
is light.

53.

canadian artist

December 15, 2006, 9:37 PM

Yes and like "how pride, pursued to the full, opens the door to demonic powers, and terrible, frightening things can follow." (Stedman)

54.

Marc Country

December 15, 2006, 10:51 PM

Powerful words... I can see what Oprah sees in him...

55.

Jack

December 16, 2006, 12:17 AM

Wait, Marc, is that business still going on? Are you sure? I'm pretty out of the loop for that sort of thing, but don't these celebrity people have some statute of limitations or something, whereby they have to rotate ostensible partners after a certain period of time? I would have thought the tabloids and People magazine and so forth would absolutely insist upon it. I mean, fresh meat has to be thrown to the animals, I mean the public, every so often, you know.

56.

craigfrancis

December 16, 2006, 3:02 AM

And Goodnight. This is the blog whereupon someone actually asked: "Why don't we have more new commenters here?"

Good luck Frank. You'll need it.

57.

Franklin

December 16, 2006, 8:02 AM

You'll need it.

No, Craigfrancis, this is where I stop needing it. I'm no longer going to be trying to make Artblog.net a commercially self-sustaining font of exhibition reviews. I'm going to use it to record my thoughts about art as they come to me, a bit at a time. If it works for you, thanks for reading. If not, good luck finding your thing.

Thanks to many others for their expressions of support.

58.

Caleb

December 16, 2006, 10:10 PM

Amen, man.

59.

eddie

December 17, 2006, 7:39 PM

welcome to the world of "artist bogging".

60.

eddie

December 17, 2006, 7:42 PM

i meant "blogging". see what happens when you don't blog regularly.
p.s. i'm giving up blogging, painting and sleeping to play non-stop Oblivion on Xbox 360.

61.

jordan

December 18, 2006, 3:27 AM

Check out Wang Wenji at Dartmouth galleries!
Pleasant Hollidays to all!

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