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Tuesday, August 10, 2004

What Happened to Art Criticism?

Modern Kicks' review of James Elkins' pamphlet What Happened to Art Criticism? intrigued me enough to make me pick up a copy of the little book for myself. I was able to get through it in a short sitting over the weekend.

The pamphlet exhibits what is admittedly provisional thinking on the topic. Modern Kicks and others have pointed out some weaknesses that I hope will be strengthened when the material is published as part of a larger work in the future.

That said, for those who are interested in writing about art, the book does prove useful. It presents three frameworks for thinking about the craft (what's being done today, what won't work for fixing the weaknesses seen in these approaches, and what Elkins would like to see more of in the craft) that prove useful enough to pay back the inexpensive sticker price and the 75 minutes the book takes to read.

If nothing else, the book will force you into a heightened state of self-awareness as you write about what you've seen. And that can never be a bad thing.

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