Post #928 • December 29, 2006, 4:20 PM • 71 Comments
Dreary? Oh, that won't do. For the record, those Renoir pastels are extraordinary. And this: "He can't afford to buy great works by top-tier artists, so he looks for lesser and cheaper works by famous artists and good works by lesser artists. ... He's not a connoisseur, he's a bargain hunter who sometimes gets lucky." I listened to Mr. Black speak about his collection at the press preview, and the man clearly knows what he's looking at. With all due respect to Mr. Johnson, this rather sounds like he's criticising the upper limit of Black's considerable wealth, and it would surprise me if a better group of work from these periods, particularly later Impressionism, could be assembled over the course of the last two decades, even given more money.
Rodin's Cambodian dancers show in Cambodia.
I become concerned when my opinion intersects with that of Holland Cotter, but, well, yeah: "In an age of universal competence and a democracy of art-schooled polish, criticism could have cast a cold eye on the field, but it took a pass on ethical issues and stuck to product placement instead." You'll remember my saying that it is "ceding of the field to journalism and apologetics." If anyone thinks criticism is in a good state, it is time to pipe up now. (Please note that I cringe at some of the rest of the Cotter piece, notably, "Boilerplate shows ... went to the expense of assembling scads of sexy pictures, then not only failed to tell us anything fresh, but also reinforced every art-historical cliché we cherish.34 Ah, there's no cliché in art like the cliché of challenging cherished clichés.) See also this essay by David Thompson (via AJ), which concludes: "Academia has always had its fashions, but the pervasiveness of this particular fashion is troubling insofar as it has explicitly marginalised expectations of accuracy and truth in favour of ostentatious political conformity." I think these are the two tines of the fork in the damned soul of art criticism, and it's worth regarding how they reinforce each other despite their ostensible opposite positioning.
Parties that were calling for a cultural boycott of Israel during its battle with Hezbollah earlier this year might enjoy knowing, or not, that Aliza Olmert, wife of Israeli Prime Minister Ehud, is an artist whose politics were described by the Associated Press last weekend as "dovish."
Department of Skills: Super Bad.