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.