Art criticism in the contracted field

Bowman, Matthew (2021) Art criticism in the contracted field. The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, 79 (2). pp. 200-212. ISSN 1540-6245

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Just over a decade-and-a-half ago, a roundtable discussion published in the pages of October worried that the periodic renewal of critical discourses had slowed to a standstill and that art criticism was faced with obsolescence. Such an obsolescence should be understood in a broadly Hegelian manner: the danger is not that art criticism would disappear from the cultural field, but that it will continue—although drained of its previous necessity.
Such fears perhaps run the risk of exaggeration, yet this paper shall suggest that there seems a sense in which the field of art criticism has contracted in recent years. Self-reflexivity in art and the popularization of “para-curatorial” approaches, for instance, often underpin the artwork discursively before the arrival of art criticism upon the scene. To be sure, such circumstances are viewable positively as interdisciplinary dialogical opportunities, but the negative flipside here is that art criticism’s potential contribution becomes increasingly minimized. From another angle, critics such as Isabelle Graw have contended that the economic-cultural regime of post-Fordism, with its attention on intellectual labor and knowledge production, might actually hold possibilities for the contemporary art critic—but even here, I shall argue, art criticism becomes contracted, albeit in the other meaning of the word.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: arts, aesthetics, visual arts
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > B Philosophy (General)
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BH Aesthetics
N Fine Arts > N Visual arts (General) For photography, see TR
N Fine Arts > NX Arts in general
Divisions: Faculty of Arts, Business & Applied Social Science > Department of Arts & Humanities
Depositing User: Matthew Bowman
Date Deposited: 30 Sep 2020 12:19
Last Modified: 31 Dec 2022 01:38

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