The Critic’s Critic: Ego in the Art World

ego-man-mdIs ego killing the art world? I found a rather provocative article the other day written in 2014 by art critic #JJCharlesworth that spoke about ego in the art world destroying art. I’m afraid it didn’t convince me. If art isn’t about the self and our personal experience of the world, how can it be anything other than just a bunch of pretense and intellectualism? But then, I’ve probably just offended the pretentious Mr. Charlesworth. But that’s okay. I don’t invite him to my parties anyway.

As a friend and fellow artist said upon also reading this article, “I ask you this question: What is the difference between the #MileyCyrus work featured in this piece and one of the plethora of self portraits painted by #FridaKahlo or___(pick one)____?”

And that is exactly the point. If this kind of egocentricity has been killing the art world, it’s been doing so since 1433 when Jan Van Eyke painted his own portrait.

No, it is clear that Charlesworth, in writing about the ego-as-artist, was actually experiencing the ego-as-critic! His problem with individual self-expression doesn’t seem to include himself. Oh, the irony! Methinks his main objection to the rise of obsessive self-expression is that there are now more voices competing with his. Or maybe, maybe that he lacks the level of consciousness necessary to comprehend works like that of visionary artist, #MarinaAbramovińá. Could it be he sees it as superficial and self-obsessed because he himself is superficial and self-obsessed? It’s not a question he will want to explore, despite the fact that he believes art should make one think.

My paintings come from me and are symbols of the way I dream…I cannot separate them from myself. Nor do I want to paint or write about things of which I have no personal experience. I just don’t understand this critic’s argument in so many ways! And at the same time, I get it. I mean, who gives a crap about anybody else anymore, right? “Self-centered” can be a very bad thing or a very good thing; it rather depends upon the one defining it. As for me, I’d rather be centered in self than centered in someone else. That would just be weird…and painful.