291 recently wrote about “Click!” and “The Golden Calf.” I was glad to see that, despite the summer slowdown (mine included), both shows have led to interesting stories elsewhere.
Here, Leon Wieseltier rages against Hirst’s “Golden Calf” on the pages of The New Republic. The first section of his story is pretty typical Hirst-bashing. Yes, Hirst is the widely trumpeted stunt- or even con-man of the art world, but it’s writing like Wieseltier’s–furious, polemic and cynical–that keeps Hirst in the headlines as a public controversy. (I’m so tired of hearing people bash “art-porn,” “food-porn,” “real-estate-porn,” “travel-porn,” and every other kind of porn. It’s B.R. Myers-like intellectual posturing. To attack something on the basis of a metaphorical relationship to pornography is intellectual slacking: all the titillation of debate with none of the analysis. Or, put more simply, it’s “thought-porn.”) Wieseltier gets to the meat of Hirst’s work on the second page of his piece, but he still ends on a moralistic note that cuts his critical analysis short. I assume that most thoughtful people can see what’s money-grubbing and spectacular about Hirst’s work, but not everyone can delve into its art-historical background and tease out its relations with older works and the initial golden calf story–something Wieseltier does, but always with condemnation as the driving force of his prose. Too bad.
i heart photograph’s Laurel Ptak noted today that she was one of five curators asked to comment on “Click!” for ArtInfo in a series of three- to four-question interviews. The interviews are good, brief but informative, although the pullquotes are a little misleading (as pullquotes often are). The overall response could be distilled into a quote along the lines of: “I think anything that gets people thinking about art is good, but I’m reluctant to praise the show too highly.” That sounds like the same response a pro curator would give to any smalltown art show featuring amateur work, which is unfair, given the conceptual rigor of “Click!”. But then, these are also short interviews; taken collectively, they at least touch on most of the strengths and weaknesses of the show. Certainly a worthwhile read.