Thursday, September 16, 2010

Art Critic Jerry Saltz is licking the salt from his Work of Art: The Next Great Artist wounds.

Art Critic Jerry Saltz appears to have endured a few professional barbs due to his involvement with Bravo’s Work of Art: The Next Great Artist. The reality show pitted fourteen emerging artists against each other for a $100,000 prize and an exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum. Now that the first season is over-- Saltz is licking his wounds in that he is admitting-- at least from what I gather from his article-- that Work of Art: The Next Great Artist was a bad move for the respectability of art and perhaps a bad move for his career as an art critic.

As Saltz pointed out in a recent New York magazine article titled ‘How the reality show Work of Art changed me as a critic, for bad and for good.’-- the art blogging community “blasted” him for being a “sellout and fraud”. In fact, some artists who once raced for Saltz’s favor now have mixed feelings concerning the validity of how important his praise for their artwork is on a professionally level. One artist, William Powhida, has apparently described past praise by Saltz as being “more like an anchor around my ankle than a life raft.” due to Saltz’s involvement with the reality show.

On Facebook Jerry Saltz reflected on his Work of Art experience-- stating, “Just last night a famous 40-something sculptor, now probably a millionaire, sniggered at me saying “You don’t think what you were doing is actually talking about art with people, do you?” People have such bad manners. I just said, “All conversation start somewhere.”.

Saltz‘s Facebook wall post stuck out to me-- especially his reply of “All conversation start somewhere.” to the artist who criticized his work on Work of Art. That statement stuck out because in the past Jerry Saltz removed me from his Facebook friend list after I included my viewpoint concerning some of his criticism. It leaves me to ask-- who exactly does Jerry Saltz want to converse with concerning art? Obviously he did not want to converse with me. Perhaps I was being "rude" for being critical of an art critic of his stature? Thus, I find the noble-- dare I say humble-- Jerry Saltz of today curious. Contradictions are always intriguing.

I ask myself-- did a reality show focused on artists achieve anything? I suppose it depends on how you look at it. One could suggest that the greatest accomplishment of Bravo’s Work of Art: The Next Great Artist is that it has muted-- at least for the next 15 minutes-- one of the most powerful voices in the mainstream art world-- which in reality is not great nor is it good for art as a whole. That said-- the question always goes back to who should have the power in the first place...


Update: I received a friend request from Jerry Saltz on Facebook about twenty minutes ago-- the same day this article was posted-- perhaps communication is indeed open.

Link of Interest:

The Future of Art Criticism: Art Critic Jerry Saltz Interacts on Social Network -- Brian Sherwin / Myartspace Blog

Take care, Stay true,

Brian Sherwin
Senior Editor


Anonymous said...

who do you think should have the power brian? jerry has done so much for artists by giving us hope that maybe the art world is not so narrow.

Balhatain said...

Anon, that is a tough question. Obviously the structure we have come to know within the art world is not exactly working to benefit artists-- that much is for certain.

There is so much money involved in 'professional' art criticism. When money comes into the fold artists are always forced into playing the role of the little guy.

Face it, alot of what we are told is great art is spurred by publications that just happen to rely on many of the galleries-- and thus artists-- that they report on. Thus, you always have to ask if we are getting the whole story-- the truth.

Also consider that the art world does have a certain shared bias towards some ideas-- there is obvious prejudice. This is often why artists will conceal their religious or political affiliation.

If artists share their views-- or at least act as they do-- they have a better chance of being represented or published. I think visual artists have it worse than musicians or actors when it comes to that.

I think this bias is also why the public-- by in large-- has never really connected with the 'art world' as it should.

If we truly want the public to embrace art we must see gallerists, art critics, and curators embrace a plethora of ideas that represents the diversity that is the United States-- instead we see specific social issues promoted time and time again in galleries and other issues mocked relentlessly in those same venues.

I'd hate to break it down to a political line-- but if it comes off that way it is because the powers that be have structured the art world in that manner.