Wishing for Irrelevance

by Art Fag City on February 13, 2006 Events

Undoubtedly the most important critique (outside of the Getty) in the blogosphere right now is that of art critic Charlie Finch. Best known for his reviews at Artnet magazine, and as the co-author of the book, Most Art Sucks: Five Years of Coagula, Finch is by all standards a success. His position within the art world more than any thing else is a testament to the empty shell that is criticism today, because for years this man has been writing shitty reviews that offer little insight into how art functions and does even less to contextualize work historically. He is a bad gossip columnist who on more than one occasion has written unabashedly misogynist write ups of women artists. His latest piece while typical, has finally solicited a published reaction.

Last week, a number of bloggers responded to his most recent sexist piece including Edna V. Harris (the Militant Art Bitch) who wrote two posts effectively issuing a call to action against the man and the magazine that publishes his work. It remains to be seen if Artnet will respond to this, though given the email correspondence that has already been posted the chances are slim.

AFC has a two minor annotations to the critique that has been issued thus far, and has thusly listed them below.

A note on the Edna V Harris post title Most Artnet Sucks: A generalization that proves to be true outside of the discussion. Artnet has a terrible reputation for grossly underpaying their employees, and as I noted previously, their auction database service has taken a turn for the worst since they lost their production manager of eight years to Artinfo. Incidentally, the two most important employees Artnet production lost were both women.

A note in response to the response: Heart As Arena provides a great run down of blogs that have discussed the topic thus far and previous objectionable Finch reviews. Blogger Brent Burket observes “The good news is that nothing will change. Finch will remain irrelevant. I mean, seriously. When was the last time you had a conversation about anything other than misogyny in response to one of his columns?“. There is a certain amount of truth to this statement, but it isn’t a position I feel comfortable taking. Regardless of his value as a critic, Artnet has over 2 million visitors a month, and garners 8.5 million page views. With a readership like this Finch doesn’t have to be relevant to reenforce problematic gender politics.*

*A related side note: GQ isn’t considered an overly “important” magazine either, but just this past February they published an article called “The Forbidden Word” which is about the devestating effect of the word cunt in their “advice” column. The piece contained such jewels as
“When I find myself cornered by a woman, my very masculinity in jeopardy, there is something more important than love: making her feel filthy and subhuman.” Um, yeah. The column is rather frightening in a can’t-believe-this-made-it-to-print in a major publication kind of way.

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