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What's Wrong With Art Writing On The Web?

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Most art enthusiasts outside of New York will never visit the Guggenheim, the New Museum, MoMA or the Whitney. People will read the major New York art critic's opinions of these exhibitions via the web before they see the show. New York art writers have become an extension of the exhibitions in this way. I asked New York art critic Jill Conner for her thoughts on the subject.

Noah Becker: Can you see how art writers in New York are using the web in a way that can reach audiences outside of the area quicker than one could even see the exhibition?

Jill Conner: I think there's a difference between art writers and art critics, in this sense. Facebook and blogs have provided a platform for short, gossipy sound-bites but offer nothing that's considerably deep. However there are a few blogs written by art critics such as John Haber, John Perrault and Brian Sholis which capture an array of long-form essays that delve critically into particular exhibitions.

Was it Paddy Johnson or William Powhida tweeting that you, Noah Becker, are following the "hierarchy of the art review"? I disagree with this completely as the function of art reviews and feature articles plays out in the research of art historians. Most blogging, for that matter, is exclusive while broadcasting to a comparably small audience. A lot of it sounds like art students who stand outside of the classroom, chatting, when they should be focused on studio work.

Becker: Do you think this interaction between online art criticism and major exhibitions is a negative situation?

Conner: It's only negative - or as I stated earlier - not useful, if the author who is writing is generally unreliable in terms of accuracy or is not well-known. And in that sense, art critics who have spent part of their careers working for hard copy magazines are more reliable because they are used to the editing process, the vetting and accuracy that is required for a final draft.