I Me Mine

This article published in Quillette is a cautionary tale about what happens when while looking at a painting one only sees their own reflection. As the historian Christopher Lasch pointed out four decades ago, disproportionate concern with “identity” is directly linked to the difficulties of establishing the boundaries of selfhood. And without the certainty of one’s own outlines, the narcissistic self takes over, adding to the cache of hashtag art history.

Art History cancelled

The April issue of the New Criterion has my article about the Santa Barbara Museum of Art debacle—the eleventh-hour cancellation of the “Three American Painters: Then and Now” exhibition, and the firing of its curator Dr. Eik Kahng.

Read and weep.

2024 Whitney Biennial: What to Expect

The upcoming 2024 Whitney Biennial: “Even Better Than the Real Thing” is billed as a departure both from tradition, and from reality. My take on what we might expect in this year’s edition is not up on The New Criterion website.

Tracey Emin’s new paintings

My review of the anodyne show “Tracey Emin: Lovers Grave” at NYC White Cube.

William Blake at the Getty

My last article published in 2023 was about the Getty exhibition of William Blake, the unrelenting radical who once said that “Where any view of Money exists Art cannot be carried on.” One wonders what the famously recalcitrant artist, poet, and religious visionary would have made of his work being presented by an institution whose endowment last year was $8.4 billion.

Pass the popcorn

Last month we have witnessed two art world celebrities—the “prominent proponent [of] big data, machine learning, and immersive large-scale video” Refik Anadol, and the Pulitzer Prize winning art critic, omnipresent Jerry Saltz, going at it on X. To everyone’s amusement, the two exchanged copious ad hominem insults before indicating that a truce is in the making. I expect a colab anytime soon. This will result in attention squared, making everyone happy.

In the meantime, here is my recap of their recent X fight.

The Problem with Open Letters

Artists are notoriously sensitive. Socially, they are often the proverbial canaries in the coal mine, first to detect and react to injustice. I discussed three examples of 20th century artists responding to the inhumanity of armed conflicts in my recent article in The New Criterion. I did so to provide the art-historical context for the controversy prompted by “An open letter from the art community to cultural organizations” undersigned by some 8,000 people and published in Artforum. I argue that venting by e-signing, then e-withdrawing signatures and e-apologizing is not the way to go.