Sunday, December 18, 2005

Saltz on Criticism

This morning I finally got around to reading the newest column by Village Voice art critic Jerry Saltz; "Seeing Out Loud". Saltz for the past couple of years has continuously been one of my favorite art critics for his ability to write readable, comprehensible reviews, while avoiding the heavy handed use of 'art speak'. I feel that too often when reading art reviews, that many art critics either go off on some overly theoretical tangent that fails to actually discuss the artwork or they come off as having a promoting agenda to the point that they fail to even give an opinion of the work. This game of writing only about what artists or shows you like or writing to promote an artist or art scene, in my opinion can be dangerous. Saltz states, "Being critical of art is a way of showing it respect." I must say that I fully agree. I don't think that all criticism should be overly critical and you should also feel un phased to write about the shows and artists whose work you like. I just want more art writers to be more constructive with their criticism, to help me understand their view. Saltz then writes, "Yet people regularly say, 'You shouldn't write on things you don't like.' This breaks my heart. No one says this to theater critics, film reviewers, restaurant critics, or sports writers. No one says, 'Just say all the food was good.'' Having worked at the (recently closed) Castleton Arts Cinema for more than seven years, I have read my fair share of film reviews. This statement made me think of something I have discussed before with customers and friends about what makes a good film review, or more precisely, what is the role of a film reviewer/film critic. I came to the conclusion, or should i say the opinion, that a good reviewer should be able to take a stance on whether the work/show is good or not, to shed some insight as to what it is they like or dislike about it, to describe what the viewer should expect to see when going, and then, how the viewer should approach the show so they can like the work/show as much as they can. Well, enough of my jabbering, go read "Seeing Out Loud" by Jerry Saltz and then consider all the art and film reviews you have read recently... for more writings by Saltz head over to Artnet.

1 Responses to “Saltz on Criticism”

M. Travis DiNicola said...
December 20, 2005 at 9:48 AM

On this same topic, that art criticism has been failing contemporary art by NOT being criticial enough, there is another recent article worth reading: Barry Gewen wrote "State of the Art" for the New York Time Book Review on December 11, 2005 - worth checking out. The link is

Additionally, congratulations to OnTheCusp for being a great addition to the discussion of art in Indianpolis.

Travis DiNicola

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