The Art Angle Podcast: What’s Causing the Crisis in Art Criticism?

This week, Artnet Europe editor Kate Brown speaks to critic Ben Davis about his recent essays addressing the state of art criticism today.

Jamian Juliano-Villani, Shut Up, The Painting [detail] (2018).

Welcome to the Art Angle, a podcast from Artnet News that delves into the places where the art world meets the real world, bringing each week’s biggest story down to earth. Join us every week for an in-depth look at what matters most in museums, the art market, and much more, with input from our own writers and editors, as well as artists, curators, and other top experts in the field.



There are endless ways to write about art, but if you tell someone that’s your job, the first thing they’re likely going to think is that you write art reviews, though the fact of the matter is that very few people actually do. In other words, the art critic is a key character in the mythology of the art world, as a champion who spots talent and interprets art for the public, and simultaneously as a villain who serves as a gatekeeper and a killjoy.

Yet the central function of the art writing ecosystem has also been facing real difficulties.

Recently, there’s also been a fresh round of debate about the state of criticism today. Is art writing now too positive, too promotional, or not critical enough? What should the goal of writing about art even be? And if there actually is a problem with art criticism, what’s the cause and what’s to be done about it?

Artnet News’s national art critic, Ben Davis, wrote a two-part essay for the site that delves into many of the thorny and often contradictory issues facing the field. Ahead of the kickoff of the fall art season, Europe editor Kate Brown speaks to Ben about the state of art criticism. \\

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