Monday, September 26, 2016

Art Criticism vs. Artblicity

 down with thumbs up!

alFreDo tRifF

Our epoch is defined by two distinct & opposing modes of discourse: Art criticism and Art publicity (Artblicity from here on). The latter owns the show. The former is hibernating. For how long?

To bring Art criticism back we need to stop taking for granted the platitudinal, unproblematic picture presented  and defended– by the artMarket and its minions.

Here is a tentative manifesto:

Artblicity presents advocacy as a blessed redundancy: the advocacy is justified merely by its provenance, its provenance by the $ale$.

Artblicity is the abduction of critique for the sake of art entertainment. Its social media equivalent is Facebook Thumbs up!

By leveling pervading conflicts of interests, Artblicity homogenizes positions and disagreements. This process I have called arthoodication.

Being the mouth-piece of the artmarket, Artblicity is opportunistic & sensationalistic. Hyperbole wins the the masses' approval.

Artblicity stereotypes and distorts art & art discourse with travesties of theory (whether formalism, lacanian or freudian psychoanalysis, diverse forms of post-structuralism, hermeneutics, and other subjectivisms). The more arcane the better.

Artblicity turns art discourse into *art fat*.

Artblicity is epiphanic. Masses have a propensity to happily to embrace artMarket's hubristic Logorrhea. 

Artblicity doesn't really address the art. The art is left at the periphery in favor of perceptions of mea$ure$.

Artblicity pretends neutrality on stage while letting conflicts of interest through the back door.

Artblicity reaffirms commodity fetishism by turning a blind eye to the dirty dealings of the artMarket.

Artblicity is structurally & politically disconnected from reality. Money talks! 

In clear opposition to the former:

Art criticism stirs debate, fosters discussion, and reframes positions.

Art criticism is adversarial, not hostile.

Art criticism is committed to exposing the coverups & lousy dealings of the artMarket and its institutions.

Art criticism fights Artblicity's platitudes & distortions.

Art criticism rewards critical courage: Call a spade a spade!

Art criticism is acerbic & lean.

Art criticism is an inter-subjective social practice not a solipsistic ideological masturbation. Don't forget the juice!

Art criticism fights digressions and non-sequiturs with clear explanations. If nobody understands it you don't understand it.

Art criticism is pluralistic.

Art criticism identifies derivative art by:

1- seeking originality, novelty and richness, while,
2- unmasking contemporary art's artfair art, artlibor, arthoodication,
3- deferring easy praise in favor of judicious patience,

Art criticism's relationship with other art practices is unstable, incomplete, uncomfortable and enriching.


Anonymous said...

Very sharp…!. Muy clever, perfectamente clear, love it!…I endorse all ideas from this manifesto!...I should star to practice it. Saludith from Judith G.

Anonymous said...

triff: well done.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Good ideas Alfredo. I'll share it with other artists friends.
Ma. Luisa

Arlene Ellis said...

Hi Triff,

Two questions:

1. How does art criticism not engage in perceptions? Don't art critics perceive before they interpret?

2. While I appreciate the contempt for "art fair art" as it relates to Art Basel, are you looking down on the whole practice?

I know a few talented young artists in NYC who show their work at art fairs. Where else are they supposed to show it? Are you supposed to stockpile your art under a bed or in a basement until it's worthy to show at a venue that has the ever-elusive balance between caring for the public good and having sophisticated taste?

I don’t think the primary goal of art should be to appease the public, as the taste of the masses is notoriously fickle. I also don’t agree that art should engage in navel gazing, as you’ve clearly articulated in this post. I do think, however, that art shouldn’t be “above” publicly engaging the public. There are too many artist who feel they’re work is too precious to share with the “unsophisticated” public. This egotistical view is found in other fields too (as you’ve addressed previously, in your first libor posts). When I was a premed student in college, I was shocked by the aspiring doctors who seemed annoyed by the idea of seeing patients beyond their physiology.

Sorry for rambling. Maybe we’re on the same page. I just feel like both of these worlds, art publicity and art criticism, engage in snobbery. Art publicity may operate in vapid wealth bubble, but art criticism seems to operate in an intellectual bubble. In the former, the art is beside the point; in the latter, the layperson is beside the point. Where is the middle ground?

atRifF said...

thanks, judith:)

thanks, erwin-can

thanks for reading, ma luisa.

arlene: tx for your comment. i'm using "perception" as a social construct. since publicity is so keen on how information is received. i.e., criticism should address the art not people's perceptions.

art fairs are not a problem per se. the problem is when they become as AB a global phenomena dictating styles and trends.

the only thing i disagree with you is on the snobbery charge. first, publicity cannot be snobbish since they by definition cater to the common denominator. on the other hand, criticism should just be direct and clear. is that snob?

art miami said...

Just loved the idea and both the criticism and publicity views for art. Your appreciable efforts in this article made everything clear related with people's views towards art and art shows.

Robert Linsley said...

Good one. Will make blog post in reply. Like "acerbic and lean"

Alfredo Triff said...

Thanks, Robert. Yes, I'll wait for your post.