Some weeks back, an old friend who is particularly grumpy about the contemporary art scene/market/criticism, etc etc, sent me a long, typical piece by TNR's Jed Perl that I didn't have the stomach to read; happily, some folks have stronger stomachs:
reblogged via Artworld Salon:
Monday June 23, 2008 | 23:49 by permalinkin |
Before New Republic art critic Jed Perl penned his latest insights, he visited a good number of recent exhibitions, including
* The inaugural exhibition at the Broad Contemporary Art Museum, Los Angeles County Museum of Art
* "© Murakami" at the Brooklyn Museum
* Take Your Time: Olafur Eliasson, at the Museum of Modern Art
* "Unmonumental: The Object in the 21st Century" at the New Museum
* "Jeff Koons on the Roof" at the Metropolitan Museum of Art
and within his essay, he referenced a good number more–including some not-so-recent shows and installations (although when, if indeed ever, he visited each of these is not clear to me from his text):
* Damien Hirst in "Beyond Belief" White Cube, London
* Richard Serra at just about any museum of your choice, but in particular at Broad Contemporary Art Museum
* "Cai Guo-Qiang: I Want to Believe" at the Guggenheim
* "Color Chart: Reinventing Color, 1950 to Today" at the Museum of Modern Art
* Tony Feher's March-April 2008 exhibition at PaceWildenstein
and yet, he found precious little in any of them that seems to have moved him. Indeed, he goes on for nearly 6000 words explaining how all he can offer "after all this museumgoing and gallerygoing, is a series of postcards about nothing written from places that felt like nowhere."
About three-quarters of the way through his opus, he does mention some artists he seems to like, though, including Ry Fyan, Carroll Dunham, Jess, and R.B. Kitaj (although with Kitaj, you get the sense Perl only likes him after he turned away from Pop art and embraced "tradition"). But just in case you’re not sure how he really feels about the state of contemporary art, Perl goes that extra mile to note that "you cannot possibly understand what a safe haven for frauds and con artists the art world has become."
As fate would have it, I read Perl's piece just after having slogged my way through Carlos Basualdo's essay "The Unstable Institution" (from the collection of essays "What Makes a Great Exhibition?") in which Basualdo berates the general and specialized art press for their "enormous disparity and lack of analytical rigor" in their published reactions to international art exhibitions, like Documenta and the Venice Biennale. It's not fair to Perl, I know, that his essay was the first I happened upon after encountering this charge (and Basualdo is clearly focused on what international exhibitions are attempting to do, not other types of shows), but it did lead me to read Perl's text with an eye toward judging the rigor of his analysis. I found several of his arguments rather convincing contradictions of his other assertions.