art fight

Here, for instance, is one writer in all-too-familiar high dudgeon: modern art, he says, is “decadent,” “narcissistic,” “meaningless,” “valueless.” These are not the words of some primitive from the outer reaches of rural Alabama. They come from a New York critic at the red-hot center of the contemporary art scene – Donald Kuspit, the editor of Art Criticism, a contributing editor of Artforum, a professor of art history and philosophy at the State University of New York, Stony Brook – and they appear in his most recent book, appropriately entitled “The End of Art.” Kuspit begins that book by quoting a news article certain to delight anyone who has grown skeptical about what is called art these days: In 2001, a high-priced gallery in London exhibited a work by Damien Hirst consisting of discarded coffee cups, empty beer bottles, candy wrappers and other detritus. It was valued at six figures. But a cleaning man, not being an art connoisseur, tossed the whole thing out with the trash. “The cleaning man,” Kuspit comments, “was clearly the right critic.”

from a major broadside in the New York Times by Barry Gewen.