An Art Critic’s New Year’s Resolutions

01/01/2013 1:14 PM |

On Kawaras Date Paintings at David Zwirner

  • On Kawara’s Date Paintings at David Zwirner

Everyone makes resolutions, and art critics are no different. I could’ve written more, and about the things I really care about rather than the latest news morsel. No matter what we resolve to do in the New Year, as critics, we should keep to that reason why we’ve chosen our particular calling. In my case, it’s because I value art and those who make it happen. But there’s always room to improve how we talk about it, and what we choose to talk about.

With New Year’s on my mind, I’ve compiled my own resolutions about art writing. Regardless of whether I end up keeping them throughout the year, they’re just plain good reminders for anyone to heed while roaming the galleries and reading the reviews.

1. See more art.

This one might seem obvious: art critics should see art. But unfortunately, we don’t see all the shows in every borough of New York. We sometimes keep too much to what we know—galleries and museums in Manhattan—and not as much to the smaller or out-of-the-way spaces where we might find some gems.

Plus, there’s no better way to get a sense for what’s happening in art, and knowing about trends, than by seeing tons of it.

2. Attend more openings.

Openings are parties, and they’re not good places to look at art. Critics should still go, but for reasons other than looking at art. As much as I hate schmoozing, talking to artists, dealers, and the like at openings gives a better sense of what’s happening and what’s important in a way that can’t be gained from spending time on Twitter or Facebook.

3. Act on your beliefs.

This New Year’s resolution goes out to Jones District (Pedro Vélez), who compiled a “Worst of 2012 Art Criticism” on Facebook. His number one complaint: “Art critics who talked too much but you never saw on the picket line.” That’s harsh. Still, he brings up a valid point we’ve all got to keep in mind as we’re writing about today’s protests: writing helps, but it isn’t always enough.

4. Get out of New York.

See number one. Provincialism is a problem that’s easily solved by leaving the city every once in a while.

5. Read everything.

Critics are writers. But most of us aren’t writers by training: we can get better and reading beyond the field of art criticism helps with that. Whether poetry, personal memoir, or sci-fi, taking in a little bit of everything shows the breadth of what’s possible with writing.