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Who is this, and what have you done with Jerry Saltz?

Post #1368 • June 22, 2009, 10:03 AM • 7 Comments

Entropy in Venice (via):

[The Venice Biennale] looks pretty much the way these sorts of big international group shows and cattle calls now look; it includes the artists that these sorts of shows now include. It's full of the reflexive conceptualism that artists everywhere now produce because other artists everywhere produce it (and because curators curate it). Almost all of this art comments on art, institutions, or modernism. Basically, curators seem to love video, text, explanations, things that are "about" something, art that references Warhol or Prince, or that makes sense; they seem to hate painting, things that don't make sense, or that involve overt materiality, physicality, color, or strangeness.

Any critic who says this, of course, is accused of conservatism, of wishing for a return to painting. I'm not for or against video—or any medium or style, for that matter. Nor am I wishing for a return to painting, which can never come back because it never went away. (That said, it's hard to imagine anything more conservative today than an institutional critique. That sort of work is the establishment.) My beef is with the experience that "Making Worlds" produces. It's just another aesthetically familiar feedback cycle: impersonal, administratively adept, highly professionalized, formally generic, mildly gregarious, aesthetically familiar, totally knowing, cookie-cutter. It is time we broke out of that enervated loop. ...

"Making Worlds" is further evidence, if any is necessary, that curators need to take more chances, work outside their comfort zones, stop defaulting to the same answers and issues, try their hand at smaller shows, and stop trying to be so intellectually clever. Birnbaum's show is merely a flat rerun of numerous exhibitions of Relational Aesthetics with some history and new relational aestheticians thrown in. By trying to do too much, he ends up doing very little.

Bonus link: This Summer, Some Galleries Are Sweating. One gallery did not even survive the publication of the article, issuing an unintentionally telling statement on the matter.

Comment

1.

MC

June 22, 2009, 10:18 AM

I've noticed this recent trend in art criticism: writers who used to be all wrong, suddenly have become half-right.

It's encouraging, I guess.

Let's see how far it goes...

2.

Jack

June 22, 2009, 10:26 AM

Is that half-right or only half-wrong? And where's the mojo angle? Isn't that the guy's trademark? Incidentally, that Smith woman's exceedingly telling statement is priceless. You can't make stuff like that up.

3.

opie

June 22, 2009, 2:52 PM

Good comment, MC.

Half right is generous, perhaps. I have noticed that he is about three-quarters there when crtiicizing the establishment (nonspecifically, of course; we mustn't stick the precious neck out too far) and maybe somewhere around 2 percent otherwise. If he really thinks this way let him name names.

I won't hold my breath until he does. This is a fashion business, not an art business. Any curator who "works outside the comfort zone" will sit comfortably at home, out of work, and any critic who gets tough will keep him company.

4.

Jack

June 22, 2009, 9:09 PM

A little something to clear the palate:

http://www.fujiarts.com/auction/k70/259k70f.jpg

5.

Harlan Erskine

June 22, 2009, 9:56 PM

Thanks for linking to this review. I love at the end when he talks about Swoon:

Just before closing time, as guards herded stragglers toward the entrance from the far end of the Arsenal where I was, three marvelous-looking vessels cobbled together from urban detritus motored past Mike Boucher’s wonderful sunken suburban house, and into the small lagoon. A band played a haunting song, a woman sang, a girl swung on a swing. The boats are the work of the artist Swoon, who was profiled in this magazine’s pages a couple of weeks ago. I’m told that Swoon wasn’t even invited to the show. She and her gypsy friends simply entered of their own accord and did what they wanted to do. Like the best work here, Swoon’s work doesn’t come out of academic critique; it comes from necessity and vision. These are the perfect tools for making things as old as time new again—including an art world turned dangerously into itself.

I love her work and I really love this "Swimming Cities of Serenissima" work check it out here: http://www.swimmingcities.org/

I cant stop looking at these boats I loved them when I saw then chugging down the east river last summer and It makes me happy they invaded the Biannual. Such a wonderful mix of quality draftsmanship of her moody drawings and the intricacies of the puttering barges complete with a traveling troop of pranksters. This has the potential of the Magic bus but the quality and the smarts of the next generation

6.

Franklin

June 22, 2009, 10:19 PM

Amen to necessity and vision.

7.

David Richardson

June 23, 2009, 12:19 AM

Nice headline Franklin. lol. I liked the review too. I also saw the article on galleries closing. I told a painter friend this may be the time to make a move toward the high end galleries if they're looking for less expensive art.

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