What's up with that? Art Crit and Life
Critics are deliverers of a message that should kindle interest in the discourse about art and society. Unfortunately, Art Criticism has been marginalized and brought into question by the monetization of the art market and the loading of museum boards with collectors who have a huge interest in influencing who will be included in a new "Academy". This commercialization has diluted the meaning and value of art to society-at-large. The last time art itself was a topic of intense discussion was when Art Criticism was a battlefield of ideas rather than what we have now-mere reportage with no education. Many art critics are trying to redefine the roll of criticism and move it back to a more personal, subjective style. They believe in making value judgments and gauging the relative worth of art works and artists. If they are successful art will become more of a merit-driven part of society. This is what art is supposed to be, a qualitative picture of where society is at any given time.
The soul of art has been kidnapped and is being held for ransom! In the late 20th Century art became viewed mostly as a commodity. It had a monetary worth first. Less and less value was placed on its intrinsic worth to society. Artists like Basquiat and Warhol were able to change art and society in ways we are just starting to understand. This is potentially dangerous and unsettling to some. People like to have a preconception of what art is so they give it meaning by asking, "How much is it worth?" The problem with this compass is that when the material possession of a thing called a piece of art is more important than the subtle ways it works on society, society itself becomes numbed even more than it already is to its own soul.
We have broken the connection between artist/public/society. We need to get back to the artist's studio, a return to an art that identifies with the individual not with what a gallery or collector sees as a mostly commercial opportunity. I think there's a good chance that the pendulum will swing back. Look at the music industry. We can make our own state of the art recordings now and reach an audience on the web. Art will go that way and we will have a new Avant-garde. It has gone so far in the other direction it has to come back.