Pick from More Themes

John Haber
in New York City

Must art serve or fight back?Must art serve or fight back?

Traditionally, art holds out a pristine world of beauty. It serves God and princes, but it stands apart from politics, science, and culture. Can this age recover the connections? Must gallery politics and museum empires mirror national and global ones?

Practice     My reviews discuss some other outsiders in art, particularly blacks and Jews:

How good is video and computer art?How good is video and computer art?

I used to think of video as the tedious side of art—the installations and kinetic art one waits on line to enter. If some artists get their way, I might never even come to the museum, and if I have to wait, I had better blame it on my ISP. But if the revolution will not be televised, are new media truly a postmodern revolution?

Practice     As a critic in a new medium, I have to take in the world in pixels. Yet I consistently find video suspiciously old-fashioned:

Is the best art a fake?Is the best art a fake?

Nothing is dearer to me than the creative act. Yet art history describes commissions and workshops, tradition and influence, copies and multiple castings. Pop and Minimalism even take their life from mass production. So are critics right when they look past the whole idea of authenticity?

Practice     Instead of seeing through it, maybe they should see what it means. My reviews argue that originality always matters, but its meaning changes historically:

Who lies behind art's images?Who lies behind art's images?

Art is so obviously a thing, but it holds out tantalizing hints of the human presence. It expresses the artist; it represents people and angels; it awaits a viewer to enter its installation and its rituals. Postmodernism promises to uncover the history behind each of these images. How well does it do?

Practice     My reviews argue for remembering the presences in a work of art, but always as the humanity of a fiction:

BACK to John's arts home page



Browse or Search by artist or critic Browse by period in art's histories Browse by postmodern ideas Check out what's NEW Some of my own favorites Museums, galleries, and other resources online Who is Haberarts? Return HOME