If you have been reading Tyler Green’s Modern Art Notes and are wondering if he has ever said anything good about the head art critic at the New York Times Michael Kimmelman, indeed he has. It takes a bit of archive digging mind you, but in an effort to provide a little MAN balance I have listed a few of the positive ones below. If you don’t give a shit about this, feel free to scroll down past these links. They have been provided for the purposes of background, but it’s not necessarily required reading.
NYT chief critic Michael Kimmelman is usually one of the clearest, most direct critics around. Sometimes this manifests itself in hyper-gushy reviews. Sometimes, as on Sunday, it results in a fine essay. AFC agrees.
MAN on Kimmelman coverage of the Venice Biennale: Meanwhile, NYTer Michael Kimmelman and LATer Christopher Knight (he has strippers!) and even WPer Blake Gopnik took the more traditional approach, finding actual art and ideas between the parties and dealmaking that preoccupied everyone else.
In response to MAN’s ongoing Kimmelman critique, I would like to add that while the guy has proven himself to be a provincial ass as of late (and when I say as of late, I mean for the past several years), he does have some value as a critic. However, situating his importance is much more complicated than it would appear. The most significant contribution he has made as a critic arrived in the 1999 essay “The Importance of Matthew Barney” first appearing in the New York Times Magazine. In this essay Kimmelman says two things that the art world has not forgotten. One, after teasing apart several Cremaster movies that have no linear narrative, but are rich in personal metaphor he concludes “Ultimately, the cabala is less complicated than Barney’s cosmology.” Now, I am willing to bet that most people who read that essay, did the same thing I did when I saw that statement, and breathed a sigh of relief. Finally you could admit you only kind of got the movies, but saw enough metaphor to come to some sort of conclusion about it. This statement in conjunction with Kimmelman’s assertion that Barney is the most important artist of his generation has had some very profound effects on art making and criticism over the last seven years, and not all of them are good. Essentially this review gives a green light to art that can’t be critiqued because it’s too personal for anyone to be able to fully understand, and that’s a problem. Don’t get me wrong, I love Kimmelman for having made Matthew Barney’s work somewhat accessible, but I will never forgive him for the endless Barney inspired “complex cosmology artists” that now litter the contemporary art world, and paralized critics who have nothing but praise for the shit.
In other news, AFC will be covering the ADAA fair.