18 April, 2007

Art Critic Pool - Art Criticisms for Trade

Detail of Yellow Trees in a Blue Forest
Pastel on Board
Casey Klahn

What do you think of a pool where we artists can trade critical pieces written about one another's art?

This is what I mean: one artist offers to write a one sentence, one paragraph, or one page art criticism of your corpus (or a given show, or whatever) and you offer to do roughly the same thing in trade regarding their work.

There don't seem to be as many critics functioning anymore, and it can be a worthwhile tool in your portfolio to have a third party wordsmithing about your art. (I promise not to use the word "wordsmithing" in my critique).

Here's what I'll do. I will take your e-mails for opting "in" to the Art Critic Pool, and I will offer you a match-up with another artist in the pool who is after about the same length of piece. For instance, Johnny writes me and wants to offer a three paragraph short essay about another artist's work (viewable on a blog, or website or even in a mailed packet if you're that into it), and Jane writes to offer a one pager as a trade with someone and I link them up via e-mail. They can decide if it will be a peachy trade or not, and if not, get back to me and re-enter the pool.

You won't get a document as authoritative (supposedly) as that from a professional art critic, but those types are few and far between, anyway. However, a third party written essay about your art is, at face value, a working tool that many artists can use. And, a petite essay from another artist (read: arts professional) is what it is - most likely an honest testament to the quality of a given artist.

One of the byproducts of the Abstract Expressionist movement is the revision of the influence and authority of the scholarly or vocational art critic. I am not prone to say something like, "here's your chance to stick it to the man," but each artist will do with this product what he will.

I would not, for my own part, present this as anything other than an essay written by another artist. By the same token, pick up any one of the many artist's monographs in your own library and take a look at the testimonials written by regular schmoes just like yourself. Or have a look at the membership of any number of arts concerns, and feel a little self-empowerment in the fact that you work body-and-soul in the field of fine art. You count.

Do this to participate:
  1. Post an e-mail to me at caseyklahn@msn.com.
  2. Important: this e-mail will be changing shortly to one at Hughesnet, so check this post for my address update before you post.
  3. Put the words: "Art Critic Pool" in the subject line so I don't flush it as spam.
  4. Offer to write a one sentence, or a one, two, or three paragraph review or even a petite essay, if you are really good at writing.
  5. Have a written one or two sentence description of yourself as the potential author of this piece. Such as: "Casey Klahn, full time artist and self-published art essayist." Well, I'll have to work on that one ;=}
  6. Send no money at this time. I always wanted to say that. Actually, this whole thing is free gratis on my part, and barter system (or filthy lucre, if you must) among essay traders. Of course, I get to chose the best writer I see to trade with me.
  7. Of course, I can't guarantee any match-ups or products.
  8. If I get swamped by e-mails, I will be looking for volunteers to split the effort with me.
Writing an Essay Links:

English Works! on Essays.
How to say nothing in five hundred words.


"I don't know anything about art, but I know what I like."
Gelett Burgess (1866-1951).

"Then we went to Matisse's studio. He's one of the neo, neo Impressionists, quite interesting and lots of talent but very queer. He does things very much like Pamela's [Fry's 7-year-old daughter]."
Roger Fry (1866-1934), British art critic. Letter to his wife, 1909.

"I am now completely Matissiste . . . after studying all of his paintings I am quite convinced of his genius."
Roger Fry. Letter to Simon Bussy, 1911.
"What distinguishes modern art from the art of other ages is criticism."
Octavio Paz (1914-), Mexican poet.

"Art criticism everywhere is now at a low ebb, intellectually corrupt, swamped in meaningless jargon, distorted by political correctitudes, anxiously addressed only to other critics and their ilk."
Brian Sewell (contemporary), British writer, Evening Standard, November 10, 1994.

Thanks ArtLex.

Extreme Navel Gazing:

Clement Greenberg.


Anonymous said...

Hi Casey

this seems a cool idea! ... I wonder if you will get many takers.
But I won't be offering myself ... as I know nothing (... but I know what I like, Ha-ha).

And thanks for all the great links ... I have just read most of them and bookmarked Clement Greenberg to read later at my leisure.

I must say that some of the published 'critiques' of current art I have happened to come across have seemed to me to be pretentious crap, and full of meaningless jargon (well, meaningless to me at least). So I am sure that actual artists writing about other artists work is a worthwhile thing to encourage.

So I hope the venture is a success, and wish you well.

Casey Klahn said...

Yes, I don't "savvy" half of the things that are said by art critics. My personal favorite (peeve) is when they go after art(s) institutions and bicker back and forth.
I have decided that I am not going to wait around to get noticed. I'm going to get 'er done myself, as the farmers say.
Are you sure you won't participate, lesly? I could match you up with another "know nothing" artist!
Actually, I've seen your writing on your blog, and you know more than you let on.

Abstract Expressionism, Art Criticism, Artists, Colorist Art, Drawing, History, Impressionism, Modern Art, Painting, Pastel, Post Impressionism