As serious, trained professionals who care deeply about art and artists, and place a high value on the disciplines of art history and art criticism, we regularly reflect on the role of the art writer/critic—what it is today and what it should be in a rapidly changing art world.
I learned from so many people: artists, writers, dealers—really, whoever would bother to talk to me. But sometimes there didn’t have to be that much talk.
The brightly colored, hard-edge dots and lozenge shapes that Larry Poons painted in the early 1960s, against expansive, monochrome grounds of contrasting tones, appear to dance on the surface, flicker and bounce, in primal rhythmic beats.
When asked to write about a quiet visionary who has left an indelible mark on the art world, I immediately thought of Hudson.
I’m writing these lines in late September just a few hours after learning that Shirley Jaffe died in Paris at the age of ninety-two. Last week, knowing that she had little time left, I flew to France to see her one last time.
If it wasn’t for my relationship with Meyer and Lillian Schapiro, who had adopted me as their surrogate Jewish grandson, I wouldn’t have had the vision and the stamina to work to shape and sustain the Rail since its founding in October 2000.
JUDITH STEIN with Susan Harris
Eye of the Sixties: Richard Bellamy and the Transformation of Modern Art
You’ve done a beautiful job, a great service to us all in bringing to light so much valuable information on this quiet visionary, Dick Bellamy, who, by your account, was unintentionally drawn to, and pinpointed artists who went on to speak to and define a whole generation.
It’s very difficult to write about people you know well. The moment you start, you immediately suspect your own words and perceptions—you haven’t said enough? Made your point clearly? Or is it too simplistic? Obviously nobody perfectly fits a description.
For almost a decade I have been writing—and pushing to publish—the first accurate biography of the neglected photographer, Baron Adolph de Meyer (1868 – 1946).
Among the people I’ve had the very good fortune to know, and want to recognize, are a couple of formidable teachers (Leo Steinberg, Rosalind Krauss); a few artists who early on prodded me by their wisdom and invention (Scott Burton and Siah Armajani); and one editor, who, I’m guessing, I won’t be the only person to thank, profusely: the inimitable and indomitable Betsy Baker.
I know that I am scarcely alone in my admiration and respect for Betsy Baker. In my case, that appreciation is leavened with a very large helping of gratitude.
Absolutely nothing: that’s how much I knew about the art world when I left graduate school (Ph.D. unfinished) in the early 1960s and moved from Cambridge, Massachusetts, to New York.
Like most people in this august profession, I stumbled into art criticism in the early 1980s through a slew of unlikely meetings. Following my failure to secure a “real” art job with my newly minted MA in art history, I found my home as an art writer through a series of encounters with remarkable individuals.
Most of what I know about art I learned by listening to artists in their lofts; at The Club (which I ran from 1957 to 1962), where the Abstract Expressionists met for panel discussions, lectures, drinking, and dancing; the Cedar Street Tavern; and the Tenth Street cooperative galleries, notably the Tanager Gallery (which I managed from 1956 to 1959).
She grabbed my wrist and pulled me close. “What do you think of my work?” Yayoi Kusama asked, peering at me intently from under the bangs of her trademark wig in her Tokyo studio.
There are few people in the course of your life who totally change your trajectory. For me, John Perreault, former AICA President, art critic, poet, artist, curator, and editor was one of them.
By the 1950s, there was much fallout in the air from developments in scientific reasoning.
As a curator who has worked at The Jewish Museum in New York for decades, the specter of Alan Solomon looms large. Solomon served as its director from July 1962 to July 1964, a mere two years.
Due to unforeseen and unexpected circumstances, I arrived in the 1980s at a boarding school in Wallingford, Connecticut. I immediately liked my surroundings. The students were smart and came from all over the world.
The influences that shaped me as a writer came from teachers in several disciplines. Many of these people I never actually met.