Scolding artists on Vulture today, Jerry Saltz reports that he is almost ready to declare painting dead. His rant reminds me of an old art professor who would read the whole class the riot act for not working hard enough, and then double back to assure his favorite students that he didn't mean them. Here's an excerpt:
Call it Neo-Mannerism. We all know it. That ever-expanding assembly of anemically boring, totally safe artistic clichés squeezing the life out of the art world right now....
Scads of artists are trying to be junior postmodernists. A phalanx of work has appeared that might be called "Modest Abstraction" or "MFA See, MFA Do." It's everywhere, and it all looks the same. In sculpture there's Anarchy Lite. Those post-minimalist formal arrangements of clunky stuff, sticks, planks, bent metal, wood boxes, fabric, old furniture, concrete things, and whatnot leaned, stacked, stuck, piled, or dispersed around a clean white gallery. There's usually a subtext about wastefulness, sustainability, politics, urbanism, or art history. That history is almost always straight out of sixties and seventies Artforum magazines or the syllabi of academic teachers who've scared their students into being pleasingly meek, imitative, and ordinary.
Looking at 2-D work, I'm this close to that old Carter-administration-era croak of "Painting is dead." Again. Nowadays we see endless arrays of decorous, medium-size, handsome, harmless paintings. It's rendered mainly in black, white, gray, or, more recently, violet or blue. Much of it entails transfer techniques, silkscreening, stenciling, assemblage, collage, a little spray painting or scraping and the like....Read more.Hmm....I wonder whom, specifically, he has in mind. Perhaps he should pen some critical reviews of their shows instead of posting a group scold.
[Image at top: Josh Smith @Luring Augustine, selected by Two Coats of Paint]
A death exaggerated (2013)
Quote of the Day: Jerry Saltz (2012)
Critic on critic: Jerry Saltz tells DC blogger to get a grip (2009)