Daniel Zalkus at The Baffler:
You see, The New Criterion was founded in 1982 to be a kind of National Redoubt of High Culture, an earthwork against, as the editors subtly put it in the first issue, “the insidious assault on mind that was one of the most repulsive features of the radical movement of the sixties.” It was the brainchild of pianist Samuel Lipman and New York’s crankiest critic, Hilton Kramer, who for many years thundered from his New York Timesperch against the modish impostures of the art world.
Kramer often got it wrong. All critics do, and that can’t be held against him. No one bats 1000. But when Kramer struck out, he struck out big, like when he panned Philip Guston’s transition back to figurative work, widely recognized now as some of the most significant painting of the second half of the twentieth century, as the act of “A mandarin pretending to be a stumblebum.” He may have been wrong about Guston, but that line and the critical move it entails, calling out an act of reverse pretension, high acting low, is unforgettable. So it’s surprising that Kramer’s protégé, the man who succeeded him as editor after his death in 2012, forgot it.
A banner image on The New Criterion’s website, right above an enticement to subscribe, tells you who is in charge, in case you did not know: “The New Criterion—A monthly review edited by Roger Kimball.” (Emphasis theirs.)