In whose service does a painter paint, or a critic criticize?

9780262028523_0Barry Schwabsky at The Nation:

When Buchloh derides more or less all of modernist and contemporary representational art, from Giorgio de Chirico’s pittura metafisica to Neo-Expressionism circa 1980, as “a masquerade of alienation from history, a return of the repressed in cultural costume,” the vehemence of his condemnation is impressive until one considers how all-encompassing it is, and how easily it might be turned into praise. After all, maybe the repressed should be encouraged to return—and who’s to say that being alienated from history is categorically bad? Yet as slippery as Buchloh’s rhetoric may be, the object of his fulminations is, at times, clear enough. Klein is an easy target, given that he was an incorrigible mystifier who really did take a reactionary political stance. But Buchloh, who maintains that it’s impossible to “evaluate any artistic production without considering at the same time its manifest political and ideological investments”—and who also feels certain that he can detect its unconscious agenda—forgets that the artist’s politics are not necessarily those of his art. That Balzac was a royalist did not prevent his writing from having a revolutionary effect, or so Marx and Engels believed. Buchloh, by contrast, thinks he’s made his case by citing Klein’s “crypto-fascist statements.” He accuses Donald Judd, who admired the Frenchman’s blue monochrome paintings, of a “patently formalist” approach, and—pot calling the kettle black—considers Judd’s promulgation of autonomous art as an “authoritarian prohibition” of his own brand of Ideologiekritik. But while Buchloh would be happy to prohibit Judd’s attentiveness to form, the latter at least accounts for why Klein is still worth talking about today.

more here.