The racially charged debate
over the Kehinde Wiley review in the Village Voice
is the talk. Overall, the critical shots rely too heavily on archetypes (predator/prey)... which doesn't work because it is obvious that Wiley is all about personalizing archetypes and giving them the kind of projected confidence that provokes viewers. It is the the intellectual equivalent of critiquing an insult comic for being insulting. Or to use an art world equivalent it is kinda like criticizing Warhol's interest in celebrities. Of course of course he is and it works because it is a little uncomfortable with their bold but deliberately obsessed/hyperfocused opening moves.
Technically, it is what Wiley and Warhol do after the opening "obsession move" that keeps them relevant and complex. I'd argue that all interesting art... and people for that matter make you a little uncomfortable with their presence at first because of their intensity (quiet or loud). The problem here was the editor not going back to the critic and telling them, "too facile an argument, it will be branded racist." Personally I like Kehinde Wiley's work... it is bold and personal as Amy's review of Wiley's show at PAM explored
. Portraiture thrives on conflicted characters and chutzpah that mocks itself a little. The reviewer focuses too much on the audacity of Wiley's success to actually undermine it and it comes of as someone who rightly or wrongly seems like they cant effectively see past the forms. Racism is everywhere... it is common because it relies on established forms and archetypes that remain unexamined (yet that reliance on archetypes is something criticism is supposed to examine).
Conversely, professional art criticism is actually quite rare
because there aren't many editors that really understand how to cut close to the bone (at the right time) and still remain valid. Perhaps the main reason journalism and criticism aren't natural bedfellows is a true critique isn't a blunt instrument it is a scalpel and with the gutting of expertise in generalist publications they have shot themselves in the foot. I've always seen PORT as a trade journal dealing in expertise, not journalism, which at some point tries to separate itself from its subject. That "objectivity" is an impossible thing when it comes to art criticism and a crucial distinction always needs to be made... is it criticism first? In the VV's case it is but the lack of editorial savvy hangs them out to dry...
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