Have you noticed that art critiques (photography, films, and book reviews as well) can be awfully opinionated? Art criticism is supposed to be about detailing, explaining, and educating the public. But sometimes art critics get carried away with their editorial perspective.
“Abigail Solomon-Godeau views her chosen critical agendas as one of asking questions: Primarily, all critical practices—literary or artistic—should be about asking questions. That’s what I do in my teaching and it’s what I attempt to do in my writing.”
Critic Kay Larsen, states that she starts writing criticism “by confronting the work at the most direct level possible—suspending language and removing barriers…you can try to figure out how to explain it, and there are many ways to take off—through sociology, history, theory, standard criticism, or description.”
And lastly, Grace Glueck sees her role as a critic as “being one of informing members of the public about works of art: She aspires to inform, elucidate, explain, and enlighten.”
With the above critical philosophy (from the terrific book Criticizing Photographs, by Terry Barrett Criticizing Photographs
as a backdrop, I now turn to the exhibit of Maurizio Cattelan at the Guggenheim, “All.” Maurizio Cattelan is known for his prankster approach to art and critics have not been kind.
And yet…he is having a retrospective at the age of 51 at the Guggenheim Museum and he cleverly insisted on using the brilliance of Frank Lloyd’s Wright’s space to hang (never-to-be -done-before) his collection of 128 works in the center of the atrium.
Ingenious and fun, you see the art from different perspectives as you walk up and down the ramps: I recommend the exhibit to all. The Guggenheim even gives you free headsets so you can learn about Cattelan.
I have read several reviews—thankfully defacto (since I might have been put off going by the undeserved negativity): The New Yorker, NY Times, and Bloomberg condescend, NY Magazine and The Economist offer useful insights. Jerry Saltz of NY Magazine summarizes in his redemptive article, “All is Cattelan internally fissuring, convulsing into a spectacular grand seizure. It’s full disclosure, nondisclosure, self-martyrdom, panic attack, and jumping-the-shark rolled into one—and it’s also some kind of masterpiece.”
Visit the museum and let me know your thoughts. And notice, I say thoughts; this is when opinions are welcome.