Death of the Art Critic

The Guardian’s art critic Jonathan Jones is questioning the role of the art critic in a recent blog post..
“What has passed away is a certain kind of revered and influential critical voice, it is sometimes said: where are today’s equivalents of the poet and critic William Empson, the art critic Clement Greenberg, the critic of the novel FR Leavis?” Guardian

The arts writers at the Guardian might be concerned that the sports writers can do their job just as well as they can.

I think the art critic will live.. just as painting still lives (even though painting supposedly dies every generation.) In my opinion, art critics become irrelevant when they start thinking their writing is as important as the art they review. They start to see that their words have some kind of influence, which causes their ego to inflate, which leads to art reviews about the art reviewer rather than the art.

About Dion

Australian artist and observer of things.. all kinds of things. I like a wide variety of art, from the weird and wonderful to the bold and beautiful.. and everything in between.


  1. Donald Frazell says:

    I agree Dion, but most art writers dont even review work anymore, but are busy describing the lilieau in which they are viewing it, they are socialites, and the wallpaper they are viewing is just a excuse for people watching and brown nosing. Read anything at Art Forum. And they love these Russian thieves coming in with their gobs of money, whores. A true revolution is required again, the world has changed, bypass them, cant compete as the arena is owned by them. Start anew. Isnt the arts supposed to be creative? Well then, Create!

  2. Donald Frazell says:

    Sorry, meant to write milieau, damn weak typing skills. If a work can be described completely in words, it isnt art at all. But illustration of an idea these people want to see, so they can babble on forever. Art is its own language, as music is. See Wynton and willie Nelson are performing together. Music has its own languae, so do the visual arts, and different categories can enjoy each other. Problem is, the critics and academies have wittled it down to only one, then scream freedom and there are no defining borders. Only the ones they have created. And deny exist. All words ARE definitions, symbols, they dont exist outside of that, and so have limitations. Art does also, but within it has freeedom to present it in any way imaginable, as long as the artist understand and feels his subject matter, his motive, and for of creation. But the intent is the same as always, or was til the 60s. Man, our survival, our future, our growth, US. WE. The arrogant individual has taken over, and that means the rich folk.And neutered what was. The lack of sensuality and tenderness and anger and all complex emotions are the earmarks of a decadent society, at least those who control art.

  3. steve jones says:

    You said it all Dion…

    Let’s just hope for the best now that Inspirationism is emerging again in a new path, let’s hope that the critic understand the value of post-contemporanean art.

  4. The individual artist can now have just as much control over his/her destiny as any “rich folk”, gallery, or arts commentator Donald.

    The internet is probably the revolution that youre seeking in art.. or at least the tool to deliver that revolution.

    The internet has given the individual artist complete control. An internet savvy artist no longer even needs an art gallery to pay the bills. Press releases can be more powerful than a good review from an art critic. The artist determines every step along the way.. where previously he had to rely on the powerful few.

  5. Donald Frazell says:

    In theory, sounds great. But do you know how frustrating it is to go through THOUSANDS of galleries and artist websites, you cant find what you are looking for, its tedious and way too time consuming, I got work to do.
    Which is why I do like your site, cuts through the BS, and without the gallery attitude. i have had galleries in the past, just getting back to work the last year, and cant find any without their heads up their…..
    I get along with the older gallery owners, but they are few, and often not looking for new artists. But do talk and give suggestions. And also frustrated with the current crop of vanity galleries, MFAs who dont want to get a real job and get daddy to bankroll a gallery with their names on it. Culver City whre I work has exploded in them the last two years. Chinatown is a horrible joke, my wife and I thinking about doing the rounds writng postits comments and photographing them, damn its absurd. Meaningless fluff. Really, art schools have poisoned the environment. Idiots wouldnt know a Cezanne from a Chardin, but do know cheap chardonnay.The last two generations are brain dead, and soulless, from electronic gadgets, want immediate gratification, shallow stuff that is easy to comprehend, too lazy to work at seeing how the layers of meaning come together. They cant figure out a Braque, or understand Coltrane, how they gonna recognize something powerful and spiritual when they see it? They are aching for it, but the art world is not delivering. no one cares, except the few who are myopic. Its a big world, learn it first.
    Times are changing, but not sure the internet will do it, been around long enough already, adn filled with trash. Phone books are easier to find things. We wil be having fewer things in the future, and perhapsn people will be more selective, and less childish. We will see.

  6. “Art History doesn’t care who paints a masterpiece, just so long as someone does.” -John Link-

  7. As an influential art critic myself I feel compelled to point out that we critics are far more important than any mere artist. Afterall it is we who decide which of the living artists will make a living while they live and which artists will make a good living when they are dead. Rich patrons need to be told what is good art and what is not. They haven’t a clue themselves so where would they be without us? Probably being ripped off by some fly by night painter flogging them an oil on canvas when what they really need is a vidio instalation or some found objects carefully arranged in a plastic box.

    Without us critics you artists would be running around painting and drawing and maybe still even using bits of chalk and half burnt bits of stick instead of producing meaningful stuff like Brit Art.

    Can’t write more … must dash… got a pile of bricks to review and a urinal to visit.

  8. Earl, that’s funny, and so true, unfortunately.

    Donald, I used to know some of them people that knew cheap chadonnay very well, just hopping from one opening to the next, being seen, pretending to take an interest in the art, and filling up on free booze. I have never liked gallery openings. I do like good red wine though ;-)

    My prediction is that internet will become more important than art galleries for working artists. From personal experiences, small and affordable works sell easily online, but as trust develops, larger and more expensive works sell too. I have heard from artists with no gallery represetation making much more than the average monthly wage just from selling work online.

  9. Donald Frazell says:

    Problem is I work big upto 10′ but always easier selling the smaller ones. Got a show upcoming at LA Artcore, but she wants the photos. Paintings smaller and smiple now, can bang them out, but the large one of my wife will take awhile, going remarkably quickly though. Actually easier than pure color synthetic cubist types. Both are fundamental. Still have my copy of a Cezanne of Mt St Victoire over my dining room table. Now that the kids are gone, its a little easier not carting around to school and basketball games, all over the country in high school. Ahhhh, my vegetabes, wife, and time for paintings. Niiice. And actualy getting non anorexec models lately. Tring to sell in other ways, especialy the nature phtos, selel tehm easily on a personal basis, trying a company that decorates hotels and cruise ships now, but no way could they handle my paintings. Or the more advanced rock abstrations. They come into the room, and are alive, as art is supposed to be, having a presence. The nature ones are well designed, but comfortable. What people usually want, not exactly sure what art types want, but it aint art as was known through 1960. You do have to know your market, but what ever happened to the creative arts one? Sidetracked on cuteness, pseudo intellectual ideas. We need art now, after the administration of Dr Pangloss(Dr Strangelove, Dick Chaney).

  10. donald frazell says:

    See, I look around trying to find something interestng and get depressed. Amazing what gets over. Was looking at your site and saw the Turner awards for 2006, first woman and painter in a decade, works small, and thought I would give it a chance, thinking I would see Paul Klee type works of wimsy and color and poetry. Got sterile nonsense painted in the kitche while watching Oprah, or the teutonic maiden version.. Horrible, even as a screen saver. No flow, no light, no life, no texture, no anything,. Bad design. Damn. Depressing, really love when I find something good. Beena long time. When I quit to raise my kids, Eric Fischl, Julian Schnabel and one other guy were all the rage, now seemm to be the butt of jokes. And things are even worse. Amazing. Sad.

  11. Donald Frazell says:

    Artists crating their own virtual gallery might work. These sites that post anyone have thousand, no way can you find anything worthile when 20 year old kids who havent lived, and frustrated older men and women who just want to be artistes in colonies of npartygoers.
    I wouold love to find thsoe with similar intentions, styles are irrelevant. Hell, I got at least four plus photography. Its teh purpose, the complex emotions involved that matter. you are good at this, try doing something in groups of those you enjoy. Would be much easier to market. and that is the name of the game. I am far too old to kowtow or change, I will go alone, as I like. Solitude is bet, just with loved ones surrounded by the work of thsoe you love. Aint no party boy, been there, irritated there.
    Most groups like that are interior designers, who sell corporate wallpaper. There are too many artists on the wewb. gotta stan out to get attention somehow, thats where these damn critics, gotcha. They got the publics ear those left who actually listen. The silen majority of those who respond to visual art are neglected, between the mass appeal stuff and the pseudo intellectuals.
    In the old days, there were few single artist exhibitions, Cezanne didnt have one till his old age. But then, those galleries didnt put ten postage stamp size fetishes in a room of white walls and polsihed concrete 50′x100′ What a waste of space, more about the gallery owner, just as bad as the critics. Need ood art dealers, what happened to them? Ones with connections to other cities. They all want to be Kahnweilers, yet are just the opposite. Sad. i hate isms, critics creations, But artists need to join up, knowing real talent is rare and will be in other cities.

  12. Donald Frazell says:

    Damn, trying to come up with an ism, tried neomodernism, but already done and for retards. Just as bad as the postmodernists it supposedly criticize, more like bad neoPlatonists or preRaphaelies, more bad art school education.
    Stupid thing is it supposedly says modernism made some groups over others, ridiculous, its the first and only international art, as jazz is in music, not that horrible simplistic KCRW hippie stuff. Say ethnic minorities are put down, while Diego Rivera and all native american Rufino Tamayo are major players as was in a secluded way Romare Bearden, african american. Not many wmen, oh well, it is what it is. Diegos neohip wife with one eyebrow just was mediocre, movie or not. My wifes designs kick ass over her stiff work, and again Jazz IS modrern music. Exactly the same concerns, and 90% of the best were black, only a few top white playes. Asia art has progressed as much, but love some of their work that stick to the past, the asian girls taking graphic design with my wife at UCLA were all the same, weak rice paper designs and all want to use that vodka ad over and over and over. No imagination. just is, for now.
    God I hate the art world, willful arrogant self absorbed ignorance.
    I am just a lowly Modern. Oh well, fine with me. I will stick with listening to music, Americas true creative gift to the world.

  13. The art Critic doesn’t die, but maybe the newspaper critic will die. The internet has changed things very quickly. Once your only option to get your art seen was an art gallery and the only way to get it respected was with art critic approval. Well now the internet is opening up ways to find and see art and the way it’s critiqued has changed too. Now everyone has a chance to be an artist and everyone has a chance to be critic. Our only problem seems to be how to sift though the straw and find the needles.

  14. For artists the internet is a revolution. Although I have and still exhibit in established galleries, I find new and exciting art blogs and artists on the internet. Who needs all of this BS from the so-called art critics, museums, and the new rich? Sure the Jeff Koons and Damien Hirst’s are laughing all the way to the bank, and I am glad that they have suckered those parvenus who only sell to themselves. Art for the hell of it, is my mantra, and I am quite happy and successful, thank you.

    Sculptor Jerry Harris
    San Francisco

Speak Your Mind