Saturday, October 12, 2013

Is Painting Dead? Again? Jerry Saltz Rocks the Art House.

Jerry Saltz, perhaps the top critic of the moment (and there are damned few left), in Vulture declares painting dead. [Link]. He begins by recontextualizing Mannerism into the present, into Neo-Mannerism, which he claims is universally self-evident and defines as: " That ever-expanding assembly of anemically boring, totally safe artistic clich├ęs squeezing the life out of the art world right now."

There's a scorching and surgically insightful paragraph on the status of sculpture, which he describes as "Anarchy Lite". When he gets to painting, he writes he is close to pronouncing it dead. He also has similar thoughts on mixed media works as well.

He then generalizes out: "If art comes from everywhere and everyone thinks differently, why does so much of what we see these days look the same? Reams of artists influenced by and using the same art-history, artists, styles, and stuff. You know what that leads to. As Keith Richards wrote of a former dope dealer of his who got addicted to his own stuff, 'Brad's dead now. It was the usual old story. If you're dealing in this shit, don't dabble in it.' Artists making this generic work are Brad."

He's not saying painting is dead or having an NDE, it is Art that is nearly dead.

He is railing against homogeneity, generic art, a lack of daring/risk-taking, and slavishness to authority. It's not so much that anything is dead forever, simply dead as we know it today. His gripes are self-evident and everywhere, even at the local level. Art has largely become, like so many other things, a Baudrillardian simulation of itself. This is in part related to his "Neo-Mannerism is an art of infinite regress. Defensive. Predictable. Safe. Well-defended. Loved by brainy magazines, websites, and curators but so far up its own ass that it can't breathe." It has become a game of producing and conforming to the signifiers loved, required and demanded by the market, brainy critics in blogs and magazine, galleries, Museum curators, auctions and collectors. As always, a mirror of the culture it exists in.

--- Luis

PS. Two years ago I was solemnly informed by a local artist that photography was dead, and mixed media/directorial/collages/composites had taken its place.  


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