I've been thinking about art criticism lately. The way we talk about art as a community affects the way art is viewed in the wider community. This is especially true in Australia where art is often tucked away in galleries or a part of a festival rather than as say, in Italy or France where art is just jumping off every cornice and peering at you from amongst the Coca Cola signs and mopeds.
The Sculpture Garden at the Louvre, Paris
I recently heard this discussion on Radio National with Raphael Rubenstien the editor of Art in America. I realize that what I was thinking I hate about art criticism is not really art criticism at all but publicity written by either the artist or someone working for them. Rubenstien points out that there is very little true criticsm around but plenty of these promotional/bureaucratic blurbs. One of the highlights of my week is reading John Macdonald's criticism in the Sydney Morning Herald each Saturday. Macdonald illuminates the work he talks about, giving greater insight into the art.
I haven't read much of her work but Joan Chitister writes about a Canadian potter called Brother Thomas Benzanson- I find her wrtiting inspitring and beautiful. This is what she says about the role of the artist:
“Beauty, in other words, lifts life out of the anaesthetizing effects of the pedestrian and gives us reason for going on, for being, for ranging beyond our boundaries, for endeavouring always to be more than we are. It enables us to pause in time long enough to remember that some things are worth striving for, that some things are worth doing over and over again until they become their breathless selves...Beauty is a moment in time that must be captured so that the human heart can, in the midst of pain and despair, cling to the notion that that which is capable of bearing beauty is capable of bringing new life, is capable of pervading the world, is able by penetrating our own souls to penetrate the ugliness of a world awash in the cheap, the tawdry, the imitative, the excessive and the cruel.” (pp.11-12 Creation Out of Clay, Wm B. Eerdmans Publishing Co, 1999)