In a new video series called “Strictly Critical,” Blake Gopnik and Christian Viveros-Fauné, two of America’s most respected voices on art, give their take on major exhibitions and minor art sensations.
For this first episode they come at “Alibis: Sigmar Polke 1963–2010,” at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Sigmar Polke, one of Germany’s most celebrated artists, liked to sow confusion in his paintings, photos, films, and sculptures—an approach that acquires new dimensions in this, his first American museum survey, organized posthumously. Our two critics ask if the American public, or even America’s critical establishment, should buy into his chaos.
Blake Gopnik: I do believe in the ugly and that’s what makes him special. . . . He’s definitely inserting himself in the art historical canon by pretending to refuse to insert himself in the art historical canon.
Christian Viveros-Fauné: This cat’s idea of the glories of consumerism [is] infinite sausages, infinite potatoes—it’s having enough to eat. . . . He’s definitely an artist’s artist, an artist engaged with his time. But I guess what I’m getting at is that I’m not sure whether his endless questioning, endless debunking, ultimately makes for a great statement.
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