Artists on the State of Art Criticism

Artists have always written about art. And, like other writers in recent years, the internet has provided them a platform to do so outside of entrenched media. Websites like Brett Baker’s Painters’ Table have developed an audience by curating myriad artist-run blogs managed throughout the years. And yet, Greg Allen of observed, “So many of my go-to artist-blogs ended in 2015.”

According to Sharon Butler, the artist behind the long-running Two Coats of Paint, social media has provided a democratic platform for artists to talk about art, and many would-be bloggers have made their homes there. “Now that artists tend to congregate on social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram to discuss their work and ideas, they aren’t starting as many blogs as they used to,” Butler tells Artspace. In fact, many of the artists recommended for this list post through Tumblr (Paul Soulellis and many others) and Instagram (Teju Cole).

But this opening of the dialogue has also provided some opportunity for historically marginalized voices to entrench themselves in more mainstream discourse. Many newer blogs emphasize specific perspectives. ARTS.BLACK, launched in late-2014, publishes writings by critics of African descent; contemptorary told Creative Capital Blog they publish work on and by “women of color, queers of color, indigenous and political refugee artists.”

From each publisher, we wanted to know four things: What called them to write about art? What do they tend to write about? What’s the most important thing for art writers and critics to be writing about today? And what artist blogs do they read themselves? This last question we used as an opportunity to expand the survey, hopefully giving a fuller view of the field of artist blogs, rather than limiting the perspective to that of one or two editors. In addition, we asked each publisher what they believed to be the most important topic for art writers and critics to be talking about today. Those answers, because of their immediacy, are included in their entirety.

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Larry Clark