Tuesday, June 10, 2008


African-American contemporary artist Hank Willis Thomas will speak at the Birmingham Museum of Art tonight, June 10th, at 6 PM. Given the response to his recent work, installed on the museum's facade, critiquing the culture of violence in the African-American community, it should be a fantastic talk. It doesn't seem often, in one of the cities in America with a top-10 per capita murder rate, that contemporary artworks are actually part of significant social discourse.

See you there.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Blank Verse

It’s not new, but it’s certainly relevant. Or so I felt when I finished reading James Elkins’ short polemic on the state of critical writing, “What Happened to Art Criticism?” Elkins argues eloquently that over the course of the last century the idea of critical writing was somehow transformed from the analytical to the descriptive, save for the voices of a few thinkers willing to work outside the dominant paradigm.

What seems clear is that apart from the apparent demise of opinion-making, the vast majority of readers of critical thinking seem to be little more than chimeras, somehow managing to hoist vast bricks of advertising somehow masquerading as writing on the visual arts.

Even more apparent is the shift from art as cultural debate to art as design fodder, somehow being grouped into contemporary lifestyle publications as high-value trophies of contemporary consumerism.

Highlight of the New York summer season? Mapplethorpe’s polaroids at the Whitney. Lowlight? Write me about it when you decide.