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Friday, October 08, 2004

The Adjective that Must be Stopped

Today's offending modifier is "pretty," and today's offending publication is The Washington Post.

I thought it was bad when Blake Gopnik, in his otherwise entertaining video review of the Dan Flavin exhibition, used the word six times to describe Flavin's work. (Yes, I watched his piece a second time and counted.)

But today's paper contains another, shorter review of the show by Michael O'Sullivan that uses the P-word twice to describe Flavin's work and once more in its adverbial form (which doesn't really count against him). But O'Sullivan does get a double demerit because all three instances occur in the same paragraph.

Let's all try not to use that word anymore when we describe Flavin's work (or anyone's work, for that matter), OK? If Michael Kimmelman can do it, so can the rest of us.

(Update: I just double-checked Kimmelman's review, and I was wrong. He makes reference to critical discussions in the 1960s about the "prettiness" of Flavin's art. New challenge: if any readers find a review of the show that doesn't use the P-word, send me a link and I'll give the reviewer a pat on the back in this space next week.)

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