There’s practically no one less relevant than an art critic these days. Even though it’s part of what I do as well, the art world has been so distorted by elitist mismanagement, it’s like speaking a language no one knows about a subject no one cares about.
Jerry Saltz has made a career for himself by making art criticism a kind of wryly playful banter. Here he is confronted by the art he tried to make when he was a young man.
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These days, there are few professionals who matter less than art critics. Jerry Saltz has made a career of it at least, and dispenses opinions on art that range from the insightful to the inane. Saltz’s writings come across like he’s his own biggest fan, but we all have moments of that. In this article, Saltz discusses some of his favorite paintings to look at in New York.
Florine Stettheimer “The Cathedrals of Fifth Avenue” (1931) Metropolitan Museum of Art
Paint as cake frosting; color as shimmering cellophane. This hallucination of a wedding procession on a red carpet spilling out of a department store raises shopping to a batty rite of passage.
Fresco wall painting in a cubiculum (bedroom) from the Villa of P. Fannius Synistor at Boscoreale ca. 40–30 b.c.; Late Republica, Roman. Metropolitan Museum of Art
Looking at the impeccably proportioned frescos adorning this Pompeian bed chamber puts the lie to the fallacy that perspective was invented in Florence in around 1414. Terraced buildings and intricate courtyards rendered in near perfect perspective produce full-on spatial illusions. The Romans had perspective; they just weren’t that into it.
Jasper Johns “Flag” (1954-55) Museum of Modern Art
In 1954 the 26-year old Jasper Johns said, “I dreamed I painted the American Flag.” Then he did! The psychic content of this uncanny, sensuous, cerebral work is the simultaneous inclusiveness. . . of America but also the ways Johns was an outsider to this openness. The painting, made with encaustic (a medium used by the ancient Egyptians to embalm their dead), is a Betsy Ross moment of modern art; something generations have pledged artistic allegiance to.