ELEANOR HEARTNEY is a New York-based art critic and the author of numerous books about contemporary art. Eleanor Heartney's Postmodern Heretics: The Catholic Imagination in Contemporary Art has just been reissued by Silver Hollow Press.
On a stage above the audiences eye level, men in white shirts murmur discreetly to each other as they page through dusty folios. They rummage through old books strewn on a long table, piled on the floor and stashed haphazardly on shelves.
Andres Serrano gained international fame—or some would say notoriety—in 1989 when his photograph Piss Christ became embroiled in the battle to defund the NEA. Over the years Piss Christ has continued to ignite controversy and is periodically attacked and defaced when it is publically exhibited. Meanwhile, Serrano has continued to create beautfully crafted, provocative photographs that touch on such themes as faith, sex, death, homelessness, race and bigotry.
In old movies, I’ve noticed that the critic is always a snooty older white manincredibly well connected, frequently corrupt, wielding enormous power over fate of artist, and very often graced with an upper-class British accent.
Newness was at the core of modernismHarold Rosenberg extolled the Tradition of the New and Robert Hughes explored The Shock of the New. In 1936 Alfred Barr theorized the emergence of the New with a complicated engineering-style diagram that illustrated his theory that art evolves through a process of exhaustion and reaction.
| Ad and Spirituality
The convergence of the death of Arthur Danto, the invitation to write something for the Rail on the 100th anniversary of Ad Reinhardts birth, and the first anniversary of Superstorm Sandy has set me thinking about Ends.
| Critics Page
Like most people in this august profession, I stumbled into art criticism in the early 1980s through a slew of unlikely meetings. Following my failure to secure a “real” art job with my newly minted MA in art history, I found my home as an art writer through a series of encounters with remarkable individuals.
| In Memoriam
I wrote about Tim and his group for various books and publications, we spoke together on panels, he helped me on various projects, and we shared many a tipsy conversation on the meaning of art, the messed-up-ness of the world and beauty of the spirit.
The fantasy of art objects having lives of their own has a long history, encompassing everything from the story of Pygmalion to the Hollywood franchise Night at the Museum. Painter Russell Connor has made a career of speculating about what characters from various iconic art historical masterpieces might do if allowed to mingle and interact.
“I thought I could just walk my dog and make my garden but Petzel has this ability to persuade me. I have known him for three thousand years in Cologne. He teased me about not working, so I started again, with no idea what I was going to do. Give me bait and I rise to it. Im lazy but Im also a workaholic.”
Is there any way to mitigate the pernicious impact of the algorithmic takeover of life? Refiguring the Future, a conference held this May in Chicago, positioned artists as a first line of defense against Big Tech.
Men have entered the world of Lisa Yuskavage’s paintings. Of course men and boys have made fleeting appearances before, but in the past they always seemed to be there on the sufferance of the damsels, coquettes, witches, and Lolitas who are the native inhabitants of Yuskavage Land.
| Critics Page
I can’t think of an essay that has been more influential on my thinking than Linda Nochlin’s seminal (if we may use that term in this context) “Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?”
| Critics Page
The 1970s saw the simultaneous emergence of environmentalism and feminism as important social forces. At the time, it was obvious to many observers that the two movements were related.