Read Hrag on Jerry

On the NYFA site, Hrag Vartanian reports on Jerry Saltz's talk at the New York Studio School on April 22.
One problem with art in the past 15 year is that over-academicized critics and curators have taken the joy out of art. Another was the overheated art market.
Quoting Vartanian quoting Saltz: “The problem with the art market,” Saltz said . . . “was that we were all in the same boat. We can only hope that this future art world would probably look like a massive fleet of modest-sized ships, rather than one ill-fated luxury ocean liner." Read the whole thing.
Picture from the NYFA website


Art said...

Considering how crowded it was I'm not so sad to have missed it, but Jerry Saltz is one of my favorite critics to read.

A)Being an older, established critic though, isn't he part of the problem he points out?

B)Sounds like Saltz, unlike some in his field, anticipates and would like Artprize's voting structure that excludes curators and experts?

Joanne Mattera said...


I didn't attend the conference, either, so I know only what I have read in Hrag's report.

But I can respond to your first comment: You're being ageist if you think that being "older, established" automatically puts one in a particular category. Saltz--and I know him only through his writing (and, yes, I'm one of his 4,200 Facebook friends--is passionate about art and artists. If the art world had been on the Titanic, he's the one who says artists should get into the lifeboats.

Stephanie Sachs said...

When I can't understand a work of art visually I never find satisfaction reading dry, wordy criticism as it meanders in historic directions trying to explain it.

Too in the know, such a small circle too boring. Do more than a handful of people even read the stuff? When was the last time you read Artforum cover to cover?

Art said...


I happen to love Salt'z writing as well--but I took his criticism of the art world as one that ought to be less full of criticism and more of good art in general, and I meant to question what his role-inherently influential due his position- should be. Or anyone's would be if the boats are sinking..

But you're right to point out that 'older' is not to the point the way that 'established' is, that's what I meant.

Joanne Mattera said...


I think Saltz was pointing to dry, overly theoretical criticism. Vartanian described in in his report this way: "One problem with the art world, according to Saltz, is the plethora of over-academicized curators and critics that favor 'late late late late conceptualism.' "

Who wouldn't want more good, accessible criticism? Again, without actually knowing the guy, it seems to me that he takes his power seriously--to the point that he looks to open it up rather than gather it all to himself. I've seem him at museum openings, with students--possibly his own--gathered around him. He was asking their opinions and actually listening to what they had to say.

BTW, one of the things about being established in one's career is that you get the chance to dig deeper into a smaller area, really get to know the soil, metaphorically speaking, rather than to rake the terrain for miles around.

Hrag said...

Saltz said he included himself in the "older critic" category. He was so self-deprecating during the lecture it was kind of adorable.

tony said...

Those who can do,
Those who can't
Become experts.

Wild generalisation, with honest & notable exceptions, but when reputation & ego are to the fore it is inevitable that medicrity will rise to the surface.

kim matthews said...

Saw Jerry Saltz at University of MN several months ago. My favorite take-away from the talk was his advice to the young: "Be skeptical, not cynical." Bravo!

Joanne Mattera said...

Is your comment specific to Jerry?

tony said...

Joanne, I did qualify the statement with "honest & notable exceptions."

Anonymous said...

Saltz is a relic and the only reason you see so many people supporting him is because they pray he will look at their work. The same goes for Winkleman and a number of other high profile people who use the internet.

Who tells us what art is good? A handful of relics who are paid to write for art magazines which happen to make big bucks from ads that art galleries buy. So it is no wonder that many of those artists get praise from these relics because it is all about business.

I'll change my mind on that when I see Saltz write an article that focuses more on undiscovered artists that happen to be great. As for Winky he is more known for his blog than for his gallery and most of his shows are dull. But you won't see Art Fag City or any other blog knock him because all of you have your head blown up each others...... choose your oriface.

Look at Art Fag City!!!! You have a blogger who fancy's herself a critic who never got anywhere with her own art but turns around and talks down exhibits that she would have no chance of getting her own work into.

Most art critics and art bloggers are just mediocre artists who clutch their claws in the only way they know how and that is bashing people who are where they wish they had been.

Joanne Mattera said...


Your comment would have more credibility if you were not anonymous. It's easy to bash critics and bloggers if you don't have to identify yourself. In any case you're a little late with this comment; the post is from April 2009.

But I'm game. I'll reply. I don't know Jerry personally, but he has helped to flatten the hierarchy from the top down, just as bloggers have done so from the bottom up. I appreciate that. And I apprecite the dialog he has opened up on Facebook. Sure, some people are sucking up, but many are opening up. There's a lively discussion going on.

As for Winkleman, Ed is a hard worker with a particular vision. His gallery is terrific, and he has a following. Count me as an appreciative member of that following.

Most bloggers are doing it on their own dime and their own time. I don't agree with every artist or writer who has a blog, but I appreciate their commitment. I see them at the fairs and in the galleries. We're not all friends, but we are colleagues, and I believe there is a mutual respect for the commitment we bring to the task.

If you don't like what they have to say, why not start your own blog? You have clearly have opinions.