Artblog Celebrating 20 Years!   Support Us Today!

The critic, the purpose, the positive review


[ed note: Mosher is responding to Roberta’s post about artists’ frustrations with getting reviews for their exhibitions.]


Post by Ted Mosher


It’s not just that shows don’t get reviewed – it’s also that the lack of review space and the limited number of serious critics in town helps to ensure that the reviews published are generally positive. Work that a critic doesn’t like (which may be merely work that is produced from premises that the critic disagrees with), or work that doesn’t otherwise serve the critic’s purposes, often just doesn’t get mentioned. The show dies a silent death, along with the artist’s hopes for feedback.

A certain amount of this is implicit in the nature of criticism, of course. However, in Philadelphia the result is a flattening of the available public discourse about local artists and approaches to art. This goes beyond the limitations of the print media (although artblog does go some distance towards providing a wider arena). A limited population of critics

consistently focusing on the same venues, the same artists and the same sort of art makes for aesthetic sclerosis. Which one would think is just what a critic would want to avoid, right?

So, a question: how much valuable space should critics be willing to spend to describe and evaluate art that does not conform to their aesthetic assumptions or preferences? Perhaps the trade-off for artists would be that yes, you will get reviewed; no, you might not like what the critic tells you.

Another way to get more discussion going would be to enable comment threads on the reviews in artblog. Any plans to provide for such a feature? (image is one panel from a ten-panel oil on board work by Mosher titled “The Fools.”) Ted Mosher

[ed. note: That’s a good question. Here’s the answer: We’ve thought about it and we’ve read many blogs with comments threads and we prefer to post comments as edited postings with images, something we’ve done since artblog’s inception.]