29 January 2013

Some Diagnoses

Varied and conflicting as they may be...

Barbara Rose:

"Perhaps the devolution of the role of art criticism is inevitable in a declining culture where propaganda, branding, and marketing have replaced measured analysis and discourse and the Museum of Modern Art, once the temple of purity, now resembles nothing so much as a suburban mall. But how could it be otherwise since museums today are run like corporations and the law is that the corporation must grow or die? How it grows, on the other hand, is another matter."

Pepe Karmel:

"The cottage industry of 'critical theory' exists largely to sustain the illusion of an avant-garde. Compensating for the absence of formal innovation, critical theory allows critics to categorize works of art as 'new' because they bear witness to hidden, gnostic truths. This would be a useful activity if only most 'critical theory' were not so strikingly uncritical. Art writers cite Jacques Lacan and Michel Foucault, Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, Bruno Latour and Jacques Rancière as if their writings were gospel. Alas, most of the theories associated with these authors fall into the category of what Paul Krugman calls 'zombie' ideas: theories that have been rejected by an overwhelming majority of scholars in their discipline of origin, but that continue to attract adherents in other fields."

Hal Foster:

"...Not all critique depends on correct distancing. Estrangement à la Brecht is not correct in this sense, and there are interventionist models in art (from Dada to the present) in which critique is produced immanently (e.g., Situationist détournement). As for the other old charges (which come mostly from the Left), they boil down to two in the end: critique is driven by a will to power, and it is not reflexive about its own claims to truth. Often enough two fears drive these two accusations: on the one hand, a concern about the critic as 'ideological patron' who displaces the very group or class that he represents...; and, on the other, a concern about the scientific truth ascribed to critical theory in opposition to 'spontaneous ideology'.... Such fears are not misbegotten, but are they reason enough to throw the baby out with the bathwater?"

Christian Viveros-Faune:

"Art's position vis-à-vis the market is the most important issue for art criticism to address today. Put in Andy Warhol lingo, the question is this: After 'the best kind of art' becomes 'business art,' what then? How can art possibly reassume a critical position in the culture after the total commercialization of the avant-garde?"

David Humphrey:

"Politics; as much as ever! Someone’s got to do it, but I’d rather talk about art institutions over a beer and keep my writing focused on artworks."

Art writers weighing in at the Brookyln Rail, in response to Irving Sandler's recent invitational panel-by-proxy essay, "Art Ciriticism Today."

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