"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."
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."
Jerry Saltz, “Reject the Market. Embrace the Market.”
(Source: New York Magazine)
"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
"Art is the power to be able to embed thought in materials. For the poet, poetry is the material."
"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."
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."
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?”“
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.