The Hirshhorn hosted an interview between Jerry Saltz, critic at New York magazine and Charlotte Burns editor at In Other Words on the evening of 29th November 2018. It was the second talk I had attended since arriving in DC on 26th September, the first being given by Raphael Lozano-Hemmer. Both were self-indulgent hogwash.Hirshhorn Museum DC 2007.jpg
Saltz is a stand up comedian. From his opening with ‘Hello Washington’ to his choosing the most famous and most obvious artworks to illustrate his exhortation to the assembled audience to be vampires if they were going to be good artists. Stay up all night. Never stop working. He played to the political sensibility with his admission that his parents were, in todays parlance, illegal aliens. He wanted his audience to laugh. He wanted them to love him. He wanted them to take selfies with him. They were willing sheep.
I was in no doubt by the end of his talk that his wife was more deserving of the Pulitzer Prize for art criticism than he. I was also in no doubt that he is, in every way, a light weight thinker. His throw away line that in 24 months maybe we will be rid of Trump made me think that the last Jewish people who said that fascism wouldn’t last were mostly dead within twelve years. If any of you have read this issue of the New Art Examiner from first page to this, you will be in no doubt as to what I think of celebrities in contemporary art and the damage such a cultural perversion has done to the nations of the world that indulge in it. One girl was shaking when she stood next to Saltz because of his fame. When did we cease to judge the awe in which we held people by the depth of their knowledge and the character of their speech? When did we teach children to worship well known faces and not question too deeply the content of their thoughts?
He says he was a late developer but if this is the standard of his discourse, this playing to the crowd, he has yet to even begin to think. The Republic is in peril, the fascists have learned how to win because liberals only know how to lose. Saltz is not a failed painter because his work was no good, he failed because he was too cowardly to suffer the poverty of trying until he got it right. He gave up. Like thousands of others. The underlying reason he gave up is because not everyone is an artist, despite the kindergarten teachings of contemporary art schools.
Liberals lose because real critics, real thinkers like Derek Guthrie, are never asked to talk or lecture. Here’s my challenge to the Hirshhorn. Invite the Publisher of the New Art Examiner to talk. Let those interested in art be challenged and dispense with this self-satisfied mob of actors who think not, know not and paint not.

Daniel Nanavati

Volume 33 no 3 January / February 2019 p 31


5 thoughts on “Pulitzer comedian at the Hirshhorn

  1. Great points, Daniel, and lots that I think we could use as discussion topics at the Writers Group in Penzance. A new painting springs into my head, well, it does, ‘The Celebrity Chained’ some ghastly, vile creature with maimed limbs is held bucking and kicking in chains against a stark cave wall while the public, those who used to stand in awe of him, file by with puzzled looks on their faces – he is gagged, of course. His figure throws ghastly shadows up against the wall of the cave and it is these that we might find truly fascinating – new title ‘The reflection of erstwhile glory. Another new title ‘Look outside, Plato!’ OK, I really need more coffee.

    1. Talking about this absurdity won’t make it go away. We seem to think these people, like our politicians, manufacture themselves but they don’t. Just as no one can make any money without the rest of us buying stuff, so idiots like Saltz are the jesters we require, we demand. We know, as a community, the obvious truths – envy is concomitant with creativity, society demands conformity (not just lawful conduct) and most important of all, art takes courage. We knbow all these things yet we indulge the faithless like Saltz and I had to watch students go weak at the knees being in his presence. America has lost it.

  2. I once saw a video of Jerry Saltz Talking Saltz lecturing students at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He said of course “I love Chicago” and polled the class if they were a dog person or a cat person. All I can say is WOW.

  3. Why is it that we still refer to people as sheep? Can’t we move on from this metaphor? What about talking cows?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *