Sunday, October 25, 2009

Criticism Is Needed In Chicago, Perhaps?

Ok, all you out there in TV land, here is your chance to have your voice heard. I know this sounds pretentious, but shut the fuck up, I'm actually trying to help. So...I've talked to a lot of the up and coming, emerging, young, what-ever-you-want-to-call-us, people, and it seems like what people are wanting is criticism. Not fluff, not "here is the show I went to, and here is a soft opinion", and not "this is fucking stupid hipster art, avoid this place at all costs" slander, but actually some thoughtful, critical, and necessarily harsh/objective criticism. Is this what you people actually want? Huh? Is it? Well FUCKING SAY SO!

When I say "criticism," I mean the type of criticism which meets the following criteria:

1. Balanced, in that it gives each work of art a fair shake, rather than plain fluff or mean-spirited dismissal,

2. Grounded in at least a passing knowledge of art history, catching significant references and noting notable precedents,

3. Intelligent, logical, reasoned, and researched, advancing propositions and supporting them with evidence or arguments, rather than simply stating one's taste or opinion,

4. Contextualized within the local art scene, and informed by an awareness thereof, for example Chicago's rich assortment of apartment galleries and alternative spaces, the differences in character between neighborhoods, etc.

For examples of the type of criticism I am talking about, see the writings of Jerry Saltz, Donald Kuspit, Lori Waxman, Dominique Nahas, Clement Greenberg, Dave Hickey, etc. Since I imagine I would have a hard time getting these people to come out to every opening I list, on account of their being too busy, too geographically distant, or too dead, the criticism would be written not by these famous names, but by our peers: local Chicago artists, emergent critics and curators, and intelligent and eloquent folk who are just plain interested in art.

There is a major lack of art criticism in this city, I understand that, and it sucks. We have very few actual professional critics, and those we do have on the books don't have the time or the interest in looking at and talking about the vast majority of the art out there. Do you want that to change? Well, say so. As some of you may know, I run not only this blog, but I also write for Bad at Sports, as well as managing the Friday Night Army, a group of people who write about art for Art Talk Chicago and Chicago Art Map. If there is a call for more criticism, ACTUAL CRITICISM, that isn't going to result in juvenile retribution (it has happened), I can make that happen. I just want to know, do you want it? This is as blog, comment, let me know. I want to help the Chicago art scene, that's why I started this shit. So....?


  1. don't worry, ive got it under control :V

  2. You've been doing awesome Steve, and filling the exact void I've been talking about. I still hear grumbling, which is what surprises me.

  3. If you want to see art without criticism just visit the booooooom blog and you'll see the kind of vapidity and emptiness that site forments. They don't allow any negative comments, because of that they just circljerk about series of photos of hipsters drinking and having fun. When actual art is posted on the blog no one comments, but when photos that are poorly implemented and technically weak are posted, people just spew vapid positive comments.

    Don't allow art to decay like this, art is about discussion, not about feeling good and circlejerking.