What I Love & Hate About Art Blogging

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Like any passion, blogging (and art blogging in particular) makes me feel like I’m cheating on my boyfriend with a lover that attracts and repels me at the same time….here are some thoughts on that mercurial relationship that I manifest in front of my laptop…
WHAT I LOVE

  • Art blogging is to art criticism & art journalism what hip hop was to the music industry in the 1980s;
  • The free form of blogging allows unfiltered reactions to appear without the calcifying touches of some editors;
  • Art blogs tell me about the art world right now more than art magazines or newspapers ever could;
  • The integration of multimedia (Flickr, YouTube) into the blog makes print and even video mediums appear passive, archaic and inflexible;
  • It always surprises me who reads blogs and which ones they read;
  • Art blogs are going to endow the voice of the art public with a new power;
  • Art blogs will (and have) diversified the art public (if it got any whiter or blonder, the art world would be a country in Scandinavia);
  • Art blogs will wrestle away the power of galleries to represent art and its quality (maybe that’s why they are so afraid of letting us take photos of their shows);
  • People who comment on posts (no matter how asinine) always inform blog debates, irrespective of the bloggers perspective or beliefs-even stupid comments tell you something;
  • Blogs are instantaneous…the rapidity is sublime;
  • Blogs rock!; and
  • Blogs are well positioned to speak truth to power.

WHAT I HATE

  • Art bloggers are far too nice to one another, we need more flaming, but then again it is such a lonely process that most bloggers probably need as many friends as we can muster online;
  • Some bloggers don’t realize that the blog form strains under the weight of long verbose rhetoric, which coincidentally has long crippled the field of art criticism…least we forget that Denis Diderot–that great 18th C. French art critic–was often at his best when he offered short quips about paintings that would be interpreted as conversational nowadays;
  • While artists can make great bloggers they should NEVER blog about their own work unless it is predominantly to reveal issues of process or to give us a sneak peak of new/evolving work (otherwise it’s BORING!!!!!);
  • Art blog commentators can at times respond brainlessly, preferring knee-jerk reactions rather than thought-out remarks;
  • Bloggers that don’t take the time to consider the user’s experience peeve me off;
  • Many bloggers don’t consider the issue of typography and layout (of images in particular) on their blogs and feeds;
  • No one has figured out a way to make a living off the medium;
  • Bloggers can be clannish and hermetic and stranger still, try to recreate the “A-lists” that drove many bloggers away from the traditional arts media (like the recent list of art blogs posted by Modern Art Notes, and another by the MetMuseum via Art21); and
  • I wish there was more diversity among art bloggers, and by this I mean ALL types of diversity (cultural, economic, political, etc.)…our homogeneity in terms of politics or cultural identity just proves that so many other potential readers don’t care about what we write. Any healthy field of endeavor needs diversity to evolve.

Feel free to comment and flame me for my list.

12 responses to “What I Love & Hate About Art Blogging”

  1. Interesting comment about the homogeneity. I have often felt that the “annointed” artworld was too politically homogenous. I was given the opportunity to curate a show during an art fair as part of a curatorial group. My suggestion was to go out and find right-wing (or right-leaning) artists who were working in portraiture and do a group show of portraits of President Bush. I believed it would be an interesting show of art being made today in honor of a president that, in our little NYC artworld, is regularly maligned. And I thought it might be eye-opening to see work that, by its conservative nature, would appear transgressive via context. Needless to say, my suggestion was shot down immediately and I was considered a heretic for even suggesting it. I still want to do it, although it seems the appropriate time has passed.

  2. -Bloggers that don’t take the time to consider the user’s experience peeve me off-
    And I hate bloggers who don’t realise hypocrisy when it bites them.
    Let’s take for example the picture accompanying this entry. The actual image is 720px (from clicking and then right clicking and choosing properties) wide yet you have the temerity to stuff it into a space that is only 493px wide.
    Don’t you see that the art you suggest you support is done the greatest of disservices by being presented in such a distorted manner??!!
    You either have to make 2 images : one that displays on site at 493px wide and clicks through to a second image: the 720px wide original; or you have to open the 720px wide one, reduce it in size to 493px wide and use that alone.
    (well you did ask to be flamed and to me, this is a first principles/number ONE priority – I turn off listening when I see this unnecessary phenomenon, which is, I might add, fairy rife among the artsy blogger world. WTF?!)

  3. RE: Peacay
    WOW! That’s why I love comments on blogs.
    I admit I can be a little lazy when it comes to formatting image sizes on my blog. I insert larger images and shrink them so that readers can click to see details, I never realized it would piss people off…now I know!
    I know the best way would be to link directly to Flickr but I refuse to litter by photostream with EVERY image I post (some, I admit, are just fun and whimsical).
    Having said that I think I’m going to take your advice and either post the exact size I post or else upload two sizes. Thanks for sounding off on this….and feel free to let me have it if I diverge from my promise.

  4. I agree whole heartedly that blogging and the internet in general is helping artist connect to the world without a gallery interpreter.
    Unfortunately while all artists are being told “Get on the Internet..write a Blog!!” what we are not sure about is what about us is interesting beyond our art. How much can we share (“cultural, economic, political, etc.”) without interfering with the viewers perception of our art?

  5. […] One of the reasons I began to blog was because I was searching for a new medium to convey ideas about culture and art. With video, photos, hyperlinks and other tools at my disposable I thought I could get closer to my goal–I posted about this a while ago. […]

  6. I get so tired of those lists. The list that Art in America really annoys me as well. First off, a blog is only as popular as the traffic to it. So a blog with great traffic is more influential than some little known blog maintained by a gallerist if you ask me.
    There are blogs that have dozens and some with hundreds of interviews with artists that are never mentioned on these lists. If you ask me those blogs are very important because the info comes straight from the mouths of people who are making the scene what it is.
    It just seems there is a already a buddy system going on with art bloggers. Some of these guys could post lame content from this point on and they would still be mentioned in Art in America.

  7. Why should art blogs be respected? There are opportunists like Barry Hoggard who have turned art blogging into business instead of true criticism. Hoggard owns Tristan Media LLC which runs ArtCal, ArtCat, and Culture Pundits. Barry Hoggard owns all of those businesses. He also runs bloggy.com which is part of the Culture Pundits network and has reviewed some ArtCat clients.
    Hoggard’s ArtCat has designed websites for artists and galleries that end up reviewed on ArtCal and on blogs that are affiliated with the Culture Pundits network. This could mean that people affiliated with Hoggard’s networks are buying online reviews or that Hoggard demands Culture Pundits and ArtCal writers write about his clients and other people associated with his online businesses.
    The Winkleman Gallery is a good example of Hoggard’s corrupt online art empire. Hoggard is an editor for ArtCal so the reviews and promotional spots for the Winkleman gallery by Paddy Johnson and James Wagner on ArtCal and their personal blogs have no critical merit.
    These writers or art bloggers have put a cash sign in front of criticism. They can be bought or sold on the whims of Hoggard and his businesses. These are reviews and critiques based on a business model linking back to Hoggard and his Culture Pundits system that includes ArtCal. His reach extends to other allegedly “reputable” online sources for art criticism.
    Barry Hoggard has a monopoly on online art criticism in the blogosphere. This should be exposed or the people involved should explain themselves. The conflict of interest is thick. Even the ethics of Newsgrist can be questioned since the editor is a represented artist at Winkleman Gallery. I bet you will find Winkleman review after Winkleman review on that site.
    Online art criticism and the blogs that have been praised for it are bogus. Support real criticism and subscribe to a magazine that has been around 100 years. Should we be surprised that most of the blogs under Hoggard’s hand have played the tune of art blogs replacing newspaper and art magazine criticism at least once.
    I can see why the Culture Pundits writers want to enforce that idea. It is self serving for them to create the idea that art blogs will replace a time honored tradition. By promoting it they promote Barry Hoggard’s business.

  8. Tim,
    While I respect your opinion I think you have a distorted perception of how much money there is to be made art blogging.
    Most (if not almost all) of us art bloggers don’t even cover blog hosting costs with ads never mind the time we put into our online sites. I know for a fact that Barry is not drawing a salary with Culture Pundits or ArtCat so that’s another misconception on your part.
    That’s not to say we all don’t hope that entrepreneurs and critics in the field (myself included) won’t one day be able to pay our expenses and afford to eat but I don’t think that’s very likely (criticism has always been a badly paid profession)…so until then I will keep my day job (and all my freelance ones).
    In terms of the death of print, I don’t think it is the Culture Pundits that are the only ones beating that drum…it’s everywhere. When Artforum drops 50% of its ad pages from Sept to Dec 2008 that tells you something…even though the economy is surely a big factor in that. But general print stats say that ad buying is over 10% down in mags & newsprint last year…and the reality is that with no ads there will be no print media.
    And btw, who do you think is easier to buy, an art magazine who receives a $20,000 full page ad purchase or a series of blogs (dozens, in fact) that receive a $600 media buy…in other words don’t hold your breathe we’re all independent and we can’t even agree on what blog platform to uniformly use (though I still think WordPress is the best).
    As a point of fact, I’ve recently been very critical of the Brooklyn Museum’s 1stfans paid twitter feed and the Brooklyn Museum has still purchased ads on the Culture Pundits network (including this blog). So, I think media buyers are pretty sophisticated and know that the art community thrives on diversity of opinions and isn’t hindered by it.
    And no, there is no art blog cabal and we don’t hold secret meetings deciding who to praise and who to trash (unless I haven’t been invited to them…hmmm).

  9. hey, maybe we’re all terribly naive and should start holding secret meetings in order to better serve our nefarious ends. I for one could sure use some help setting up an off-shore account for my millions, which I’ve been hiding in pillows for years…
    jg
    firstpulseprojects.net
    newsgrist.net
    :-)))

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