Christopher Knight isn't convinced that Warhol's Shadows on display at MOCA are a top tier work
, which is hardly a radical art historical position to take as Warhols late work is often derided. Then MOCA's Director Philippe Vergne took the controversial step of responding to the criticism
. I tend to disagree with Knight on the importance of this particular work as it is a somewhat elemental late work that adds a new dimension to one's understanding of Warhol (maybe not top tier but provocatively near it). As for the Vergne responding to criticism publicly... those who are more old fashioned might not like it but we live in an era of fluid debate and response and Knight can certainly take it (that separates him from mere internet trolls). It is healthy and Knight's reputation is hardly at risk... a weak critic needs some protection, great ones survive, even grow ever stronger from having some pushback like this. Lastly, Vergne is European, they simply have a stronger tradition of pointed critique and I think it is an important step for the West Coast to publicly step out of the very passive aggressive cycle in discourse that we have been known for. Admittedly, I have a dog in this hunt. I cut my teeth with British art publications and that tone does threaten some other west coasters in the visual art scene. What it does do is cuts through all these false politeness that doesn't serve the work or ideas in question. Overall, I think the Warhol will fare just fine as will Knight and MOCA... So is the opiece in question a masterpiece or the birth of the zombie formalism that Jerry Saltz and others including myself have been railing against? The jury is out.
Indeed, all of these are deficient designs in Portland
Jerry Saltz on Robert Gober
Checkout this fascinating video on the conservation of Matisse's Swimming pool. I think it is right to treat the burlap as a support to be swapped out and not as a relic. Going back to the studio version is also provocative though a thornier issue. Do we present paintings the way they were stored in the studio? It is an interesting pickle.
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