Combative critic Hughes revered, remembered
By Kathryn email@example.com
Robert Hughes, art critic and historian died Monday. He was 74. Hughes reached the masses as an art critic for Time magazine and through his documentary about the development of modernism, “The Shock of the New” It was seen by more than 25 million viewers when it ran first on BBC and then on PBS.
He became known for blasting new art stars — “image-scavengers and recyclers who infest the wretchedly stylish woods of an already decayed, pulped-out postmodernism.”On Jeff Koons:
Hughes' take-no-prisoners prose can only be done justice by reprinting some choice excerpts from his writings. Enjoy!
“Koons really does think he's Michelangelo and is not shy to say so. The significant thing is that there are collectors, especially in America, who believe it. He has the slimy assurance, the gross patter about transcendence through art, of a blow-dried Baptist selling swamp acres in Florida. And the result is that you can't imagine America's singularly depraved culture without him.”On Julian Schnabel:
“Truly bad art is always sincere, and there is a kind of forcible vulgarity, as American as a meatball hero, that takes itself for genius; Jacqueline Susann died believing she was the peer of Charles Dickens. “My peers,” are the artists who speak to me: Giotto, Duccio, Van Gogh.” Doubtless this list will change if he tries a ceiling, but Schnabel has never learned to draw; in graphic terms, his art has barely got beyond the lumpy pastiches of Max Beckmann and Richard Lindner he did as a student in Houston.On Jean-Michel Basquiat:
“… a small, untrained talent caught in the buzz saw of artworld promotion, absurdly overrated by dealers, collectors, and no doubt to their future embarrassment, by critics.”On Andy Warhol:
“The alienation of the artist, of which one heard so much talk a few years ago,” he wrote in 1975, “no longer exists for Warhol: his ideal society has crystallized round him and learned to love his entropy.”On Cy Twombly:
“The sight of all these orts and fragments in Twombly's pictures seems to have convinced his more ardent admirers that he's a classicist, saturated in the myths and literature of the ancient Mediterranean, exuding them from every pictorial pore. All he has to do is scrawl a wobbly “Triumph of Galatea” or “Et in Arcadia Ego” on a canvas, and suddenly he's up there with Roberto Calasso, if not Edward Gibbon. When an audience that has lost all touch with the classical background once considered indispensable in education sees Virgil written in a picture, it accepts it as a logo, like the alligator on a Lacoste shirt. The mere dropping of the name, or the citation of a tag, suggests that a classical past still lives, solid and whole, below the surface. But a toenail paring isn't a body.”