"In the last decade, art fairs mushroomed and became all-encompassing, fully comped VIP monstrosities and entertainment complexes for the one percent. So I went off art fairs. Way off. I’ve never told anyone this, but I hit my art-fair bottom at Art Basel, in Switzerland, where I was invited to be on a panel in the mid-aughts. I checked in alone to a hotel and had a meltdown. Feeling alienated, realizing a critic had no business there, intimidated by the socializing yet afraid to be excluded, I freaked out. I made up a story about an imminent death in my family, packed, and flew home early. I’ve been too scared to ever leave New York for an art fair again. But I’ve made peace with them. Last month I went to seven local fairs. I’ll go to Frieze and NADA in May. I’ll smile. I now like leaving my office and refrigerator, putting on real clothes, facing the larger world."
#the art world
Jerry Saltz, on breaking down at an art fair.
I love that he wrote about this. But I call bullshit that he never told anyone.
(Source: New York Magazine)
"But now, all of a sudden, more art is coming from private places, looking almost outsiderlike, untaught, odd in ways that feel pressing, impatient, and important. In from the wilderness. A lot of it is smaller, made of less expensive or found materials, and more provisional, or at least bad in ways that aren’t so annoying. After too much art that made too much sense, artists are operating blind again."
#the art world
"I love my work— she’s the real deal […] She’s not as user friendly, she’s hardcore, you know? A gatekeeper, you know? I’m more of a keymaster. Like, “Oh, take the key, I don’t care. Stay out late… Just be home by 2 if you can.” Where Roberta’s like, “Where were you?! What have you done?!”"
Jerry Saltz, on his wife & fellow art critic Roberta Smith
"Fail for me, but fail flamboyantly. Don’t fail the way we’re doing in Chelsea, which is mediocre. We can’t help it, because our airwaves are so expensive […] it gets out of scale in New York. And as a result we have great shows, but that’s all we have. Even if they stink, it’s always the same top of the Himalayas. You don’t know how high the mountains are unless you see the whole picture."
#the art world
Jerry Saltz, to curators and artists at the Contemporary Art Museum in St. Louis
(On kind of a JS kick, please forgive me, I promise something else soon.)
"The art world had been academicized, and I’m afraid that we lost a generation of critics to the academic discourse. I believe in that discourse, because without it… women would not… there’s a… liberation philosophies and theories are part of that discourse — so never throw out the baby with the bath water […] We lost a generation that was afraid - I think it was fear - to simply put out opinion - to say, “I like this and this is why.” […] If you put out the reasons in a clear and articulate way… a generation is lost in language, seduced by the very high level, intense English translations of French theory, never read in their original. Which is fine […] The language is what became inaccessible and defensive and kind of authorative. The opinion is gone, the juice is gone, the life is gone, everything is gone. The taste of the fathers is worshipped by the children in this generation. A Freudian nightmare takes place. And this is no good. And it’s changing right now— right now — right now. I’ve been seeing it over the last four or five years that the language has been loosening up, and the language is smart."
#the art world
Jerry Saltz, in his talk at the Contemporary Art Museum in St. Louis in October 2010.
If nothing else, he’s a very entertaining speaker. “We are all dark, but splendid. You understand?”“
Watch on Youtube: Part 1 // Part 2 // Part 3
On my imaginary shelf.
Edited by critic Jerry Saltz, published by Frieze in 1998. The world’s foremost artists, writers and critics name the books they’ve found most relevant to contemporary art.
Feeling super sentimental on this Friday night, so here’s Jerry Saltz’s countdown the amount of time he’s spent with seminal art works.
"Here are guesstimates as to the five longest times I’ve spent looking at a work of art in a single sitting, or in long consecutive sessions. I’m not tallying cumulative time, because I couldn’t possibly. I’m not including video, otherwise I’d have to admit to spending 56 hours watching Matthew Barney’s Cremaster IV 75 times. No buildings, either, or else I’d go on about days spent in the Pantheon or the Hagia Sophia.
1. Giotto, The Scrovegni Chapel: 36 hours. When I was in my early thirties, I spent three-straight twelve-hour days in this walk-in ecstasy machine — not eating, not moving, just looking. In that tremendous fresco cycle, I saw the birth of Western Painting, and the death of any doubt I had that maybe art wasn’t enough.
2. Caravaggio, Bosch, and others: 12 hours. On my first trips to Europe as a young adult, I often spent entire days in front of a single work of art. Hieronymus Bosch’s The Temptation of St. Anthony in Lisbon; Rogier van der Weyden’s Descent from the Cross in the Prado; Piero della Francesco’s chapel in Arezzo; Correggio’s swirling ceiling Assumption of the Virgin in Parma. I could go on. These were the best days of my life. My favorite: the shock-and-awe in Caravaggio’s three paintings of Saint Matthew in San Luigi dei Francesi, in Rome. Here I saw the invention of modern drama and experienced the electrifying jolt of seeing a single second come to life.
3. Diego Velazquez, Las Meninas: 11 hours. Two years ago, feeling my age, I grew scared I might not ever see it again. I’d spent five straight days of eleven hours each in the Prado (maybe the best vacation to and from myself I’ve ever had). On the last day, I sat in front of this one painting from opening until closing. I think I entered some sort of mushroom-based universe of timelessness. (I have looked at the work of Velazquez, Goya, and Cézanne more than I have any other artists.)
4. Matthias Grunewald, The Isenheim Altarpiece: 9 hours. To me this is the greatest painting in France. Housed in a church turned museum in Alsace, this extraordinary pictorial healing machine has drawn me back several times. The first time, however, a miracle happened. I went in at 9 a.m. At noon, the museum closed for two and a half hours, and everyone left. Except me. It was pre-9/11. Maybe the museum was used to obsessed viewers. I decided to jam my fourth chakra and alter the flow of my kundalini in order to become invisible, and for some reason I’ll never know, the staff agreeably locked me inside the museum with one guard. I had the painting completely to myself for two hours. It changed my life.
5. The Basilica of San Vitale, in Ravenna, Italy: 8 hours. My wife and I walked into this amazing early Christian-Byzantine church. We were smitten for eight straight hours by the dazzling sight of walls, vaults, columns, and stones covered in fifth-century mosaics. A full day came and went, completely without our realizing it, as we were transported to other astral planes.”
"I hope “Skin Fruit” is the final scene of the New Museum’s uneven first act in its new building. For two years, the institution has emphasized cheek, playing to the obsolete mind set of “Love it. Hate it. See it!” It’s time to change the formula. Shock value, savvy, and being adversarial are fine if they are hacked up by credibility and vision. Too many shows here have lacked both."
Jerry Saltz, “Less Than the Sum of Its Parts: Skin Fruit, the New Museum’s show curated by Jeff Koons, highlights the cracks in the institution” New York Magazine, April 5
#new york mag