What Happened to Art Criticism? by James Elkins

By James Elkins

Artwork feedback was passionate, polemical, and judgmental; now critics are extra frequently drawn to ambiguity, neutrality, and nuanced description. And whereas paintings feedback is ubiquitous in newspapers, magazines, and exhibition brochures, it's also nearly absent from educational writing. How is it that while feedback drifts clear of academia, it turns into extra educational? How is it that sifting via a numerous array of colourful periodicals and catalogs makes feedback appear to slip even farther from our clutch? during this pamphlet, James Elkins surveys the final fifty years of artwork feedback, presenting a few fascinating causes for those startling changes."In What occurred to artwork Criticism?, paintings historian James Elkins sounds the alarm concerning the perilous kingdom of that craft, which he believes is 'In all over the world predicament . . . dissolving into the historical past litter of ephemeral cultural feedback' whilst progressively more individuals are doing it. 'It's loss of life, yet it truly is all over . . . vastly produced, and hugely ignored.' those that concentrate on different different types of feedback may possibly realize the issues Elkins describes: 'Local judgments are most popular to wider ones, and lately judgments themselves have even come to appear beside the point. of their position critics proffer casual evaluations or transitory ideas, and so they shy from powerful commitments.' What he'd wish to see extra of: bold judgment, mirrored image approximately judgment itself, and 'criticism vital sufficient to count number as background, and vice versa.' Amen to that."—Jennifer Howard, Washington publish e-book global (20051211)

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56 \ 1 , f 1 II 1 E I Ii 1. " Kramer's dislike of politically-inflected art criticism prompts him to stress Fry's interest in finding laws of art in "a realm apart from life"-a phrase Reed uses to WHAT HAPPENED TO ART CRITICISM? remind readers that is not all that Fry did. There's nothing to stop Fry from being reborn for each new generation: that is the nature of historical reception. " Clearly, Kramer's polemic is driven by nostalgia. He wants things the way he imagines they once were, and that is not a plausible model for contemporary criticism.

Why did I write that? such a critic may ask, or: Who first thought of that? Art criticism is a f o ~ u ~for n the concept and operation of judgment, not merely a place where judgments are asserted, and certainly not a place where they are evaded. At the same time, criticism cannot become exclusively a fomm for meditation on judgment, as Krauss once said, because then it would lose itself in another way-it would dissolve into aesthetics, or into trackless meditation. 83 WHAT HAPPENED TO ART CRITICISM?

On the other hand, a ferociously strong position or Theory of Everything limits discourse with other critics and historians, and in Greenberg's case it even seems to have limited his articulation of the genesis of his own preferences. Clearly, it is dubious at best to reform art criticism by requiring art critics to have positions: it leads back along an uneven path toward a kind of commitment so ferocious even the person who held it, Greenberg, described it as a force outside himself. It's not that the opposite is best-it's that positions are not things to which a person can return.

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