Jerry Saltz on the New Whitney is today's must read, though it is kind of a rehash that uses the new building and program as a testcase
. I agree, many museums have lost their way and the art (along with the serious curators that serve it) have been getting the short end of the stick for about 15 years now. The Whitney here seems to be finding a clarity of purpose through this building rather than the muddle that most recent building campaigns have produced. Going pure timeline and ism-dogma is a kind of intellectual death and the Whitney is right to avoid it. Question is if programmatically/curatorially it can utilize this new breathing space? (My forthcoming Guenther piece goes in depth into how curatorial programs have shifted... yes it is still coming, likely closer to PORT's 10th anniversary on June 1
since it is kind of a retrospective on PORT as well). Basically, we live in an age that requires more incisive critical thinking precisely when it is in somewhat shorter supply than any time I can remember. Still, I like the way Saltz has focused on Weinberg here. He's a major reason this museum expansion seems less craven... somehow the Whitney now seems to be curious about itself and what it and NYC has been missing lately.
Surprising discoveries as the Glasgow's incinerated Macintosh masterpiece begins to emerge from the ashes
I've waited to chime in on Robert Storr's pronouncements on today's art critics
because I Love both Storr and Saltz... both are true critics and just like having wolves and bears in a confined space, conflict is pretty much preordained. First, we are in a moment of authority bashing (any misstep and someone will call for heads) and Saltz and Storr both being ubiquitous authorities have an impressive cache of detractors (a sign of achievement). Familiarity breeds contempt and an art market/system that would rather farm careers rather than critique them is often shortsightedly adverse to thekindof criticism the each dish out. That is especially true if it is spot on and obviously there is more than one type of criticism. In the past I've compared the art world's dwindling supply of critics as similar to national parks losing their superpredators (supercharismatic too) that weed out the weak, many dealers and institutions would prefer coyotes level criticism to the wolves
. I see these two as from different packs. Jerry is a gadfly whose populism (which is genuine) gives him strength, Storr is arch serious... a true academician who is valid beyond the academy... not the sort of low-midlevel word muddler who serves to grease the CV's of other careerists. The problem isn't Jerry or Storr, but the incredible rarity of similar critics. They are both somewhat (and only somewhat) lone wolves. In general, critics often appear delirious but their role is to follow their experience publicly, which looks like mere narcissism but isn't, they are bravely sharing the process of discernment... leaving existential breadcrumbs as it were and yes critics discussing other critics is part of it.
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