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Wednesday 06.27.07

« PNCA Street Party | Main | Big Money In a Little City »

WSJ way off base on Robert Storr

Tyler Green is 100% right about this. When the Wall Street Journal questions Robert Storr's curatorial understanding as possibly anti-Semitic it comes off as one of the most flippant, unsupported swipes I've ever seen in a major newspaper. Look, PORT doesn't have an editor but there is no way I'd let that serious a charge pass without some hefty case building. We have a saying on the internet: PPOR!

Plus Storr is one of the most open-minded, impossible to fathom as anti-anybody people I've ever met. Storr is a class act.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on June 27, 2007 at 15:37 | Comments (5)


From Artnet, in an article by Walter Robinson, entitled "Kvetch Fest":

"The punk cartoonist Raymond Pettibon contributes a particularly listless room -- didnít he do an installation here before? -- as if he had decided that it would be easier to be a graffiti artist and work on a large scale than to make all those intimate, labor-intensive drawings. It reminds me of Basquiat, with its Tourette-like outburst of scattered found texts, including one thatís anti-Semitic."

Posted by: jerseyjoe [TypeKey Profile Page] at June 27, 2007 04:08 PM

Yeah I read that a while back too... that is way different...

That Artnet quip was within the context of Pettibon's "Tourette-like" stance. Robinson's remark shows he understands Pettibon is tryng to offend.

The WSJ piece infers that anti-semitism is somehow part of Storr's philosophical makeup and understanding of contemporary art. That is a HUGE difference and a good editor should have caught it and had it worded more carefully. Otherwise an assertion like that needs some serious backup.

Robinson's remarks made me think, "eh Ive seen that too." The WSJ's piece dropped my jaw and started a huge debate in a Portland coffee house where several other writers were also typing away. Everyone just dropped what they were doing.

It is such bad form. I see it all the time on blogs and sometimes in newsprint... rarely do I see it in something like the Wall Street Journal.

Posted by: Double J [TypeKey Profile Page] at June 27, 2007 04:47 PM

"Elsewhere, Raymond Pettibon has graffitied up a room with a diatribe against American politics. "America loves (adores) Israel," "Hillary Clinton, Hillary Kristol, Hillary Kramer: Post-op or same person" and "Alan Dershowitz, David Horowitz" are scrawled besides images of the Star of David.

One can only imagine that anti-Americanism and anti-Semitism are the natural extensions of Mr. Storr's understanding of avant-garde art."

I'm not getting it. Robinson says the piece contains text that is anti-Semitic, while WSJ imagines that anti-semitism is an extension of Storr's understanding of avant-garde art.

Nobody is saying that Pettibon or Storr are anti-semites.

Posted by: jerseyjoe [TypeKey Profile Page] at June 27, 2007 05:21 PM

Once again Robinson doesnt cross any lines... he's in on Pettibon's conceit... that is no big deal.

Now maybe you didnt read the WSJ article in the way suggested but writers and editors have to consider the many ways something can be read. A skinhead would read it and think.. right on! Which does misrepresent Storr. The art can have multiple interpretations but you have to be careful when claiming those are the curator's views or fundamental underpinnings of his practice.

For the WSJ to even suggest that Storr's understanding of contemporry art naturally requires anti-Semitic remarks foregoes "the conceit" found in Robinson's comment... and places the Pettibon piece as odd inclusion in a political art show. (to me it seems like a too obvious inclusion)

This leaves the door open to the idea that Storr is using anti-Semitism for cheap political effect or condones a truly anti-Semitic undercurrent... and is therefore a thoughtless or possibly ill intentioned curatorial inclusion.

That is a really thoughtless thing to even imply.

The WSJ writer by being a bit indiscriminant in his wording leaves open or even invites that reading, which is at best lazy wordsmithing and at worst a really really cheap shot that misrepresents Storr in a profound way.

To put it this way... in art to present something does not automatically mean it is condoned.

Sometimes art picks at the scabs of civilization and that was what Storr was probably after... the ugly scab and the rawness underneath. But to take that particular shot at Storr for including it smacks of a kind of moral censorship which isnt good for art. Art should be allowed to explore the darker parts of humanity.

The WSJ's very PC move is also pretty out dated too.

Only in arts coverage would that swipe have been let past with that wording... in sports or hollywood being a labeled bigot destroys careers fast and the WSJ would have been way more careful had Shaq been the collector of that Pettibon piece and they had been doing a tour of his art collection.

Posted by: Double J [TypeKey Profile Page] at June 27, 2007 09:55 PM

Considering the source (managing editor of the New Criterion), "anti-Americanism and Antisemitism" are probably just things he says about things that make him feel grumpy.

Without having seen the show I can't say for certain, but it seems like Petibone was using the Star of David as the symbol on Israeli flag and not the symbol of Judaism or the Jewish people, which is a subtle and tricky distinction because it's both, or all three. Maybe Petibone handled it badly, I don't know. That said though, what Mr. Panero wrote looks to me like failing to distinguish between Isreal and the Jewish people, which is way more racist than what Petibone did. After all, aren't distinctions between the apparatus of a state and the autonomy of its citizens the difference between a democracy and facism?

Posted by: Liam Drain [TypeKey Profile Page] at June 28, 2007 10:30 AM

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