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Re: <eyebeam><blast> The Net. and the Art Media

Re Olu on criticism and media:
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> even at the height of the vogue of the critic as superstar, the critic > was
> almost always no more than a wimpish scrounger at the mercy of the
> editor, the proprietor, and the organ through which 'criticism' was 
> made possible.

As a critic publishing for 20 years in everything from newspapers to art
mags to my own little mag I somehow missed the superstar phase (alas).
If you're referring in the US to the now-historical Clement Greenberg to
Barbara Rose period, the superstardom came from these writers pursuing
the European model (a la Germano Celant and arte povera) of criticism,
ie individuals partaking of ever-expanding conflicts of interest as
simultaneous writers, curators, consultants to collectors and museums,
and collectors. The notion of (financially) disinterested criticism is
probably one of the worthy products of the ridiculous American notion of
objective journalism. BTW, fellow writers, is the Village Voice (for
whom I wrote for many years) the only publication demanding that writers
not write about artists whose work they collect?

>today when a new crop of independent curators seem to drive
>the art business, mercurial and loose, undermining the critic as the
>ethical precepts that governed curator-artist-critic relationships in
>the past collapse under their own inherent inconsistency and the triumph
>of free-agency, many would still argue that the art media remains
>crucial to the art machine as a trader in visibility and strategic

I think you'll find that most of those curators (at least the
influential ones) have connections--former or present--to institutions,
ie pubs and museums. But I disagree that they (who are they?) are
driving the biz. It seems to me that power in the art world is balanced
among curators, critics, dealers and collectors--never artists--and
those power relationships are constantly shifting in accordance with the
zeitgeist. In New York, the international art market capitol/capital,
the mid-late 80s saw power shift almost entirely to dealers and
collectors (who as museum board members encouraged insipid, unnecessary
museum shows of the Schnabel/Salle/Stella ilk.) As Wall St boomed, art
became almost as liquid as stocks with canvases frequently changing
hands--and locations--more than once daily. All this of course to the
detriment of critics and curators.

>what in your opinion are the implications of the
>net. for art publishing, criticism, and the art media in general, and
>perhaps for media-artist-critic-impressario-consumer relations? in the
>age of electronic and network publishing and practice, whither the art
>mag. and its all-powerful editor, and why?

Art mags are struggling like Hell now to survive, implying ever closer
editorial/advertising collusion. (BTW: the all-powerful editor is really
an all-powerful publisher and advertising director.) To me, the net has
offered far more in the way of discourse about art than art itself--eg
this list. This means that non-advertising-linked subjects such as
public art or graffiti can be well-covered online. Likewise the
avant-garde little-magazine dream of the modern era, which cable TV
betrayed is perfectly suited to the net. Long live such niches!

Robert Atkins
TalkBack! A Forum for Critical Discourse

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