abstract art, a systems view

Role of the Critic, Updated (via Slow Painting)

with 3 comments

I  saw this two-years-old-blog-post recently, I had been re-reading Peter Fuller’s Beyond the Crisis in Art and blogging about it. (Slow Painting continues to be a good blog by the way. It reads like a press digest of what’s going on in art). What a good photo of Fuller this is!

Role of the Critic, Updated Savage… the art critic Peter Fuller by Jane Bown, 1988 Photograph: Jane Bown/Observer Do art critics have a point any more? Can they contribute anything to the development of art? For a long time I’ve ducked this question. If you’d asked me any time over the past few years, I’d have replied that criticism does not seriously influence art. It has its own justification, however, as literature. If literature seems a pompous word, let’s say enterta … Read More

via Slow Painting

Then, a year after the blog post, there’s a comment by Wallydevilliers that suggests that the role of the critic is to find what’s really good and bring it to our attention. Good point. However, Fuller’s refusal of so much that was going on when he was writing was not really bad publicity (I recognise that the comment was actually about Robert Hughes in relation to Damien Hirst) the publicity had already been had. He was interpreting the meaning of the art works and establishing a position within a Marxist framework. So, reading Fuller was also a way of learning about Marx and socialism (he was just as critical of the positions taken by the Left as he was of the art) and I think he was a good teacher.

He also showed us how to criticise. I don’t always agree with his judgement, but I do find his approach, and his commitment to imagining a world different to the present one, to use an old-fashioned word – edifying.

It is that committed position that I think exemplified his approach and that informed his understanding of the role of the critic: not to entertain but to imagine.


Written by Andy Parkinson

July 3, 2011 at 7:44 am

3 Responses

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  1. The “commitment to imagining a world different to the present one,” as you put it here, this resolute utopianism, is the only responsible position of art and architecture under modernity. The retreat from this commitment in the art of recent decades does not so much reflect a shift in the function or purpose of art as it is symptomatic of the apparently shrinking possibility of realizing a world that is different from our own. As Adorno said of philosophy, the same can be said of art: Art must continue to portray new worlds, a different reality, precisely because it has outlived the moment of its potential realization. Marx’s early proposition “to make the world philosophical” could just as well be fused with art — “to make the world artistic.” This is and should remain the goal of modern art, and the drift away from this utopian imagination over the last forty years attests only to the regression of social consciousness, the degeneration into the so-called “post-modern,” and the decline of the Left.

    Ross Wolfe

    July 3, 2011 at 1:47 pm

  2. Agreed!

    Andy Parkinson

    July 3, 2011 at 4:36 pm

  3. […] going on about Theosophy, occultism and mysticism, and suddenly there is this brilliant article by Peter Fuller, who unsurprisingly is rather scathing about it all. It’s not the spiritual as such that he […]

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