Category: Culture

What has happened to art criticism?

In his Spiked article, What has happened to art criticism?,  J.J. Charlesworth investigates the decline of art criticism over the past 30 or so odd years.  He misses professional, culturally alert, independent, and historically informed criticism. Criticism has been replaced by what he calls ‘art writing.’  Art writing is that amorphous, subjective, non-judgmental  style one sees everywhere in the art…

‘Works of art may be offensive”

I read this laugh-out-loud piece in the NY Times. The blog post by Jeffrey Kindley is directed toward the college-age population of delicate hothouse plants who require trigger warnings on art and other cultural artifacts.  Columbia university students who found Ovid’s Metamorphosis ‘offensive and triggering’ provide a recent example. Surrounded by Disturbing Art I was triggered…


The new Whitney.

The Whitney Museum recently opened its new digs in Chelsea. My first (tiny) apartment in New York was in Chelsea (20th & 8th), of course, that was before Chelsea became an art center. I plan to pay my first visit this summer.

I read a slashing review, A Monument to Tastelessnessby THEODORE DALRYMPLE in the City Journal. Dalrymple is a doctor and an author. I enjoyed his book about Africa, Zanzibar to Timbuktu. The review, subtitled The new Whitney Museum looks like a torture chamber, is scathing. He also excoriates Michael Kimmelman’s piece in the NY Times, A New Whitney, saying, “I have seldom read a piece of criticism in which the fundamental question was avoided in so pusillanimous a fashion.”

As I have yet to visit the museum, I’ll withhold comment. Dalrymple is an incisive thinker. His experience as a doctor to the poorer classes in Africa and Europe infuse his writing with an interesting perspective, although his liberalism is old fashioned by today’s standards, That’s fine by me because so is mine.

Here is a different review–a typical art world fawning-type review–of the new museum.


Movie review: Nightcrawler

For an artist, Nightcrawler is a fascinating movie. Nightcrawler, released in 2014 and starring Jake Gyllenhaal, is about a bottom feeder, Lou Bloom (Gyllenhaal), who discovers the world of crime scene photo-journalism. Bloom, armed with an internet account and google, is an autodidact who envisions himself an entrepreneur. As the movie opens, Bloom uses his…


David Hockney at 77 is still in the game.

In a long, sympathetic article in The Guardian,  Hockney maintains that he is and has always been a workaholic. I have no idea if that’s true, of course, but it seems unlikely. Although I like some of his paintings, his work seems really uneven and strikes me as exhausted. I do like his Rousseau-like landscapes. I also enjoyed his book, Secret Knowledge, and never understood the hoopla surrounding it.

Book review: the War of Art

Steven Pressfield’s the War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles  offers pop psychology advice to struggling writers and artists. Pressfield is most known for his novel and film  The Legend of Bagger Vance. Before reading this book on my Kindle, I’d read nothing by the author. Mimicking Sun Tzu’s classic The…


Julian Barnes writes about his love for art and art museums in The Guardian. One point he makes, one which I agree with, is that you can go your own way but you must come to terms with modern art.  Although I do not share his passion for some of his favorite artists (Gustave Moreau, for example), his journey as a youthful art lover mirrors mine in many respects.



This article in The Week provides a perspective on the Baltimore riots that mirror my own. As a Baltimore native, the author, Tim Kreider, has a dog in the fight. The author, although white, discusses the alarming and dramatic changes in the nation’s police since 9-11. The author maintains, and I agree with him, that the militarization of the police has increased the number of unfortunate incidents like those in Baltimore and Ferguson. It’s dismaying and off-putting to see the police arrayed in military paraphernalia confronting U.S. citizens once again. The changes are evident even in small-town America where we live.

Of course, I don’t condone the riots, but the police appear to be developing an ‘us vs them’ mentality.  Read the article.