WHO KNOWS?

There has always been a tug-of-war between artists and art critics and historians about who knows best about art. Artists believe they know more about art because they make it. Art historians and critics believe they know more because they dig into the times, the traditions, the “milieu” in which art is created. There is no ultimate arbiter. Donald Kuspit, co-founder of the magazine Art Criticism and credentialed in the world of art history and criticism says in Art Desk, “These days everyone has something to say about art; there is a communication glut just as there is an information glut.” He goes on to say, ”One needs ideas to think about art-certainly to be able to interpret and evaluate it with critical acumen and . . . to educate one’s sensibility, enabling one to attune to it responsibly . . . without knowledge of the history of ideas . . . one cannot fully understand the wish to make art .” Add to all this, artistic value is often equated with economic value, and Kuspit says, ”Critical consciousness is on the verge of being stamped out by economic consciousness.” Many artists would argue that it is all a bunch of gobble-de-gook (yes, it is in the dictionary) and that a work of art speaks for itself. Are we talking language here? Do we need interpreters? Does art need to be translated into words of ideas or dollars? Does art need to be “understood” or is looking understanding enough?