53 Quotes of Jerry Saltz

” Works of art often last forever, or nearly so. But exhibitions themselves, especially gallery exhibitions, are like flowers; they bloom and then they die, then exist only as memories, or pressed in magazines and books. “
” Venice is the perfect place for a phase of art to die. No other city on earth embraces entropy quite like this magical floating mall. “
” Abstraction is one of the greatest visionary tools ever invented by human beings to imagine, decipher, and depict the world. “
” Chris Ofili’s suave, stippled, visually tricked-out paintings of the nineties, with their allover fields of shimmering dots and clumps of dung, are like cave paintings of modern life. They crackle with optical cockiness, love, and massive amounts of painterly mojo. “
” I love art dealers. In some ways, they’re my favorite people in the art world. Really. I love that they put their money where their taste is, create their own aesthetic universes, support artists, employ people, and do all of this while letting us see art for free. Many are visionaries. “
” Summer is a great time to visit art museums, which offer the refreshing rinse of swimming pools – only instead of cool water, you immerse yourself in art. “
” Urs Fischer specializes in making jaws drop. Cutting giant holes in gallery walls, digging a crater in Gavin Brown’s gallery floor in 2007, creating amazing hyperrealist wallpaper for a group show at Tony Shafrazi: It all percolates with uncanny destructiveness, operatic uncontrollability, and barbaric sculptural power. “
” Put yourself in the position of an up-and-coming artist living in early-sixteenth-century Italy. Now imagine trying to distinguish yourself from the other artists living in your town: Michelangelo, Raphael, Leonardo, or Titian. Is it any wonder that the Italian High Renaissance lasted only 30 years? “
” When money and hype recede from the art world, one thing I won’t miss will be what curator Francesco Bonami calls the ‘Eventocracy.’ All this flashy ‘art-fair art’ and those highly produced space-eating spectacles and installations wow you for a minute until you move on to the next adrenaline event. “
” All of Koons’s best art – the encased vacuum cleaners, the stainless-steel Rabbit (the late-twentieth century’s signature work of Simulationist sculpture), the amazing gleaming Balloon Dog, and the cast-iron re-creation of a Civil War mortar exhibited last month at the Armory – has simultaneously flaunted extreme realism, idealism, and fantasy. “
” All of Koons’s best art – the encased vacuum cleaners, the stainless-steel Rabbit (the late-twentieth century’s signature work of Simulationist sculpture), the amazing gleaming Balloon Dog, and the cast-iron re-creation of a Civil War mortar exhibited last month at the Armory – has simultaneously flaunted extreme realism, idealism, and fantasy. “
” It’s art that pushes against psychological and social expectations, that tries to transform decay into something generative, that is replicative in a baroque way, that isn’t about progress, and wants to – as Walt Whitman put it – ‘contain multitudes.’ “
” ‘Summer of Love: Art of the Psychedelic Era,’ the Whitney Museum’s 40th-anniversary trip down counterculture memory lane, provides moments of buzzy fun, but it’ll leave you only comfortably numb. For starters, it may be the whitest, straightest, most conservative show seen in a New York museum since psychedelia was new. “
” There’s one Baldessari work I genuinely love and would like to own, maybe because of my Midwestern roots and love of driving alone. ‘The backs of all the trucks passed while driving from Los Angeles to Santa Barbara, California, Sunday, 20 January 1963’ consists of a grid of 32 small color photographs depicting just what the title says. “
” Just as Pollock used the drip to meld process and product, Richter ‘found’ and used the smudge and the blur to ravish the eye, creating works of psychic and physical power. “
” ‘The Panorama’ is also the last place anywhere in New York where the World Trade Center still stands, whole, as it stood in the early morning of September 11. I can also see the corner where I saw the first tower fall and howled out loud. Seeing the buildings again here is uplifting, healing. “
” I have a soft spot for art that, in terms of subject matter and material, is in bad taste. “
” Where Cezanne captured and intensified shards of the eternal (every pear far more sharply defined than it could be in life), Monet portrayed the changeability and flux of every moment. ‘The Water Lilies’ give you a jittery, amorphous sense of a world seen at the speed of light. “
” ‘Untitled’ is a time machine that can transport you to 1992, an edgy moment when the art world was crumbling, money was scarce, and artists like Tiravanija were in the nascent stages of combining Happenings, performance art, John Cage, Joseph Beuys, and the do-it-yourself ethos of punk. Meanwhile, a new art world was coming into being. “
” ‘The Night Cafe’ and ‘The Starry Night’ still emit such pathos, density, and intensity that they send shivers down the spine. Whether Van Gogh thought in color or felt with his intellect, the radical color, dynamic distortion, heart, soul, and part-by-part structure in these paintings make him a bridge to a new vision and the vision itself. “
” It took the Metropolitan Museum of Art nearly 50 years to wake up to Pablo Picasso. It didn’t own one of his paintings until 1946, when Gertrude Stein bequeathed that indomitable quasi-Cubistic picture of herself – a portrait of the writer as a sumo Buddha – to the Met, principally because she disliked the Museum of Modern Art. “
” The very paradigm of revolution, of right versus wrong, good versus bad, is a relic with no bearing on the present. Yet artists, exhibitions, and curators valorize the sixties. People who wrote about these artists 30 years ago still write about them in the same ways, often for the same magazines. “
” Can space break? I mean the space of art galleries. Over the past 100 years, art galleries have gone from looking like Beaux Arts salons to simple storefronts to industrial lofts to the gleaming giant white cubes of Chelsea with their shiny concrete floors. “
” I’ve always said that an art critic can put aside politics around art. “
” Appropriation is the idea that ate the art world. Go to any Chelsea gallery or international biennial and you’ll find it. It’s there in paintings of photographs, photographs of advertising, sculpture with ready-made objects, videos using already-existing film. “
” Many museums are drawing audiences with art that is ostensibly more entertaining than stuff that just sits and invites contemplation. Interactivity, gizmos, eating, hanging out, things that make noise – all are now the norm, often edging out much else. “
” Giant group events are distorting organisms: You can like and hate them in rapid succession. “
” Outside museums, in noisy public squares, people look at people. Inside museums, we leave that realm and enter what might be called the group-mind, getting quiet to look at art. “
” Much good art got made while money ruled; I like a lot of it, and hardship and poverty aren’t virtues. The good news is that, since almost no one will be selling art, artists – especially emerging ones – won’t have to think about turning out a consistent style or creating a brand. They’ll be able to experiment as much as they want. “
” You can’t prove Rembrandt is better than Norman Rockwell – although if you actually do prefer Rockwell, I’d say you were shunning complexity, were secretly conservative, and hadn’t really looked at either painter’s work. Taste is a blood sport. “
” Everyone goes to the same exhibitions and the same parties, stays in the same handful of hotels, eats at the same no-star restaurants, and has almost the same opinions. I adore the art world, but this is copycat behavior in a sphere that prides itself on independent thinking. “
” Auction houses run a rigged game. They know exactly how many people will be bidding on a work and exactly who they are. In a gallery, works of art need only one person who wants to pay for them. “
” Now people look at ‘The Scream’ or Van Gogh’s ‘Irises’ or a Picasso and see its new content: money. Auction houses inherently equate capital with value. “
” New Yorkers only cross water for visual culture if the water is an ocean. The East River throws us for a huge loop. If we started going to Queens and the Bronx for visual culture, many of our rent, space, and crowding problems would be over indefinitely. “
” The forties, seventies, and the nineties, when money was scarce, were great periods, when the art world retracted but it was also reborn. “
” Art is for anyone. It just isn’t for everyone. Still, over the past decade, its audience has hugely grown, and that’s irked those outside the art world, who get irritated at things like incomprehensibility or money. “
” Artschwager’s art always involves looking closely at surfaces, questions what an object is, wants to make you forget the name of the thing you’re looking at so that it might mushroom in your mind into something that triggers unexpected infinities. “
” Early-twentieth-century abstraction is art’s version of Einstein’s Theory of Relativity. It’s the idea that changed everything everywhere: quickly, decisively, for good. “
” John Currin’s exaggerated realism and his twisted women kept me off balance, never knowing if they were sincere or ironic or some new emotion. “
” The style of ancient Egyptian art is transcendently clear, something 8-year-olds can recognize in an instant. Its consistency and codification is one of the most epic visual journeys in all art, one that lasts 30 dynasties spread over 3,000 years. “
” Calling a young artist ‘great’ these days can give one the heebie-jeebies: The word has been denatured in the past decade. “
” The art gods cooked up something special for James Ensor. “
” After its hothouse incubation in the seventies, appropriation breathed important new life into art. This life flowered spectacularly over the decades – even if it’s now close to aesthetic kudzu. “
” When the purse strings tighten up at museums, the institutions usually cut back and cancel shows. That’s exactly the wrong reaction. In fact, now is a good time for them to loosen up – a chance to breathe and experiment a little – and go for the juicy solution lurking in their own basements. “
” New York being what it is, our museums are vertical, not horizontal. That means the stumbling blocks to architectural clarity are unavoidable – but certainly surmountable. “
” Every movement that slays its gods creates new ones, of course. I loathe talk of the sixties and seventies being a ‘Greatest Generation’ of artists, but if we’re going to use such idiotic appellations, let this one also be applied to the artists, curators, and gallerists who emerged in the first half of the nineties. “
” Wolfgang Tillman’s stunning large-scale pictures, being shown for the first time, were so offhand I failed to see them as art. “
” I don’t often go to curator or artist walk-throughs of exhibitions. For a critic, it feels like cheating. I want to see shows with my own eyes, making my own mistakes, viewing exhibitions the way most of their audience sees them. “
” When people in stadiums do the Wave, it’s the group-mind collective organism spontaneously organizing itself to express an emotion, pass time, and reflect the joy of seeing the rhythms of many as one, a visual rhyming or music in which everyone senses where the motion is going. “
” Probably only an art-worlder like me could assign deeper meaning to something as simple and silly as Tebowing. But, to us, anytime people repeat a stance or a little dance, alone or together, we see that it can mean something. Imagistic and unspoken language is our thing. “
” Of all the biennials, triennials, quadrennials, internationals, and massive group shows, Documenta, established in 1955 and held once every five years in Kassel, Germany, is seen as the most serious. A statement show. “
” Galleries began growing in both number and size in the late seventies, when artists who worked in lofts wanted to exhibit their work in spaces similar to the ones the art was made in. “
” Rumors sound of galleries asking artists for upsized art and more of it. I’ve heard of photographers asked to print larger to increase the wall power and salability of their work. Everything winds up set to maximum in order to feed the beast. “