My Article on Jerry Saltz’s “This is the End…” Lecture on NYFA’s Current


Via NYFA Current, which has ditched their walled garden in favor of a log-in free system…another victory for a free & democratic web:

If the art world had a Department of Art Criticism, Jerry Saltz would be its acting secretary. A veteran New York art observer whose career at the Village Voice from 1998 to 2007 solidified his role as a leading critic, he joined New York Magazine in 2007 and has held court there ever since. A sign of his influence—and also, perhaps, of the anxiety that has plagued the art world in this new economy—were the more than 160 people who had lined up out the door at the New York Studio School for his fancifully titled lecture, “This is the End; The Rising Tide that Floated All Boats has Gone Out and All Boats are in Danger of Sinking.”

In this sometimes tongue-in-check but always riveting multimedia presentation, Saltz mused about the last 15-year cycle of the art world, threading his talk with clips from Hollywood epics that contain apocalyptic overtones of destruction and collapse (Apocalypse Now, Star Wars, and most notably Titanic), as he ruminated on where we stand today. The verdict: who knows, and anyone that tells you otherwise is lying.

One problem with the art world, according to Saltz, is the plethora of over-academicized curators and critics that favors “late late late late conceptualism” and has taken the fun out of looking at art. He traced the problems of our contemporary art world to the Oedipal struggle between Clement Greenberg, Rosalind Krauss, and the October school of criticism. “In the art world,” he explained “the pleasure police came in,” and sterility reigned. He lamented that curators have become a major part of the problem since academia has wrung the joy out of art. “I’m not against the camera,” he said, referring to the preponderance of appropriation and photography-based art that are powerful, if overused, strategies, “but do something original with it.” Curators, too, are guilty of unoriginality. Worse yet, they are immune to its repercussions. “If curators do ten bad shows in a row,” Saltz asks, “what happens? Nothing,” hinting that perhaps there should be some form of penalty for curators who chronically fail.

Read the whole thing here.

4 responses to “My Article on Jerry Saltz’s “This is the End…” Lecture on NYFA’s Current”

  1. Lyra Avatar

    Great piece! I felt like I was right there, but didn’t have to elbow through throngs of people…

  2. Ron Pehmoeller Avatar
    Ron Pehmoeller

    Jerry Saltz is always so insightful. I would like to see late late late late conceptualism take the other connotation and be dead dead dead late conceptualism. We are talking the visual arts and concept is only a part of a piece. Conceptualism, like dada, is best experienced as a brief statement about contemporary art fixations rather than an ongoing rant. Art needs to change and move on. I hope Jerry is right and we see a major shift in focus. The lousy economy should help in the sense that bloated art prices will probably suffer their own changes iin emphasis. I like the view that “advocate for an art world that embraces the plurality of the world and recognizes the importance of art beyond a financial investment.”

  3. James Kalm Avatar

    Great reporting Hrag.
    The surest sign we’ve moved on to a “new art world”, I predict, will be when the unctuous obsequies sycophants stop playing lapdogs to the old line establishment and start forming their own “establishment”.

  4. Jerry's Kids Avatar

    …The easiest way to convince my kids that they don’t really need something is to get it for them.

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