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Jerry Saltz

  • American critic
  • Born February 19, 1951

Jerry Saltz (born February 19, 1951) is an American art critic. Since 2006, he has been senior art critic and columnist for New York magazine. Formerly the senior art critic for The Village Voice, he received the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism in 2018 and was nominated for the award in 2001 and 2006. He has also contributed to Art in America, Flash Art International, Frieze, and Modern Painters, among other art publications. Saltz served as a visiting critic at The School of Visual Arts, Columbia University, Yale University, and The School of the Art Institute of Chicago and the New York Studio Residency Program, and was the sole advisor for the 1995 Whitney Biennial.


Koons's work has always stood apart for its one-at-a-time perfection, epic theatricality, a corrupted, almost sick drive for purification, and an obsession with traditional artistic values.




When money and hype recede from the art world, one thing I won't miss will be what curator Francesco Bonami calls the 'Eventocracy.' All this flashy 'art-fair art' and those highly produced space-eating spectacles and installations wow you for a minute until you move on to the next adrenaline event.




Venice is the perfect place for a phase of art to die. No other city on earth embraces entropy quite like this magical floating mall.




Pictures artists staged their own images or copied or cut out others already in existence. The viewer took them in separately, in sometimes paradoxical waves: an original image, then the manipulations of it, then the places where image and idea intersected. This created a crucial perceptual glitch that irony and understanding filled.




All of Koons's best art - the encased vacuum cleaners, the stainless-steel Rabbit (the late-twentieth century's signature work of Simulationist sculpture), the amazing gleaming Balloon Dog, and the cast-iron re-creation of a Civil War mortar exhibited last month at the Armory - has simultaneously flaunted extreme realism, idealism, and fantasy.

All of Koons's best art - the encased vacuum cleaners, the stainless-steel Rabbit (the late-twentieth century's signature work of Simulationist sculpture), the amazing gleaming Balloon Dog, and the cast-iron re-creation of a Civil War mortar exhibited last month at the Armory - has simultaneously flaunted extreme realism, idealism, and fantasy.




The reason the art world doesn't respond to Kinkade is because none - not one - of his ideas about subject-matter, surface, color, composition, touch, scale, form, or skill is remotely original. They're all cliche and already told.




My nominee for Best Picture of the year - maybe the best picture ever, because it's essentially made up of and is an ecstatic love letter to all other movies - is Christian Marclay's endlessly enticing must-see masterpiece 'The Clock.'




Only an artist as preternaturally acute and copacetic, as oddly visionary and just odd as Richard Artschwager, would be able to lay out the whole course of human evolution and have it make some kind of sense while also seeming like a dazzling insight.




Just as Pollock used the drip to meld process and product, Richter 'found' and used the smudge and the blur to ravish the eye, creating works of psychic and physical power.




To engage with art, we have to be willing to be wrong, venture outside our psychic comfort zones, suspend disbelief, and remember that art explores and alters consciousness simultaneously.




'The Panorama' is also the last place anywhere in New York where the World Trade Center still stands, whole, as it stood in the early morning of September 11. I can also see the corner where I saw the first tower fall and howled out loud. Seeing the buildings again here is uplifting, healing.




One argument goes that recessions are good for female artists because when money flies out the window, women are allowed in the house. The other claims that when money ebbs, so do prospects for women.




I wish I could write about shows outside New York. I often feel like the last person to know anything, because I almost never get to leave town, and when I do, I tend to go for three days max. Seeing between 30 and 40 shows a week in 100 or so galleries and museums takes up nearly all my time.




Can space break? I mean the space of art galleries. Over the past 100 years, art galleries have gone from looking like Beaux Arts salons to simple storefronts to industrial lofts to the gleaming giant white cubes of Chelsea with their shiny concrete floors.




The New York art world readily proves people wrong. Just when folks say that things stink and flibbertigibbet critics wish the worst on us all because we're not pure enough, good omens appear.




I love Rauschenberg. I love that he created a turning point in visual history, that he redefined the idea of beauty, that he combined painting, sculpture, photography, and everyday life with such gall, and that he was interested in, as he put it, 'the ability to conceive failure as progress.'




I'm noticing a new approach to art making in recent museum and gallery shows. It flickered into focus at the New Museum's 'Younger Than Jesus' last year and ran through the Whitney Biennial, and I'm seeing it blossom and bear fruit at 'Greater New York,' MoMA P.S. 1's twice-a-decade extravaganza of emerging local talent.




The secret of food lies in memory - of thinking and then knowing what the taste of cinnamon or steak is.




Art is for anyone. It just isn't for everyone. Still, over the past decade, its audience has hugely grown, and that's irked those outside the art world, who get irritated at things like incomprehensibility or money.




Living and working for four decades in a Bologna apartment and studio he shared with his unwed sisters, Morandi painted little but bottles, boxes, jars, and vases. Yet like that of Chardin and the underappreciated William Nicholson, Morandi's work seems to slow down time and show you things you've never seen before.




Giorgio Morandi's paintings make me think that artists may not totally choose, or even control, their subjects or style.




Contrary to popular opinion, things don't go stale particularly fast in the art world.




I rage against Vincent van Gogh for needing to die at 37, after painting for only ten years.




I don't know much about auctions. I sometimes go to previews and see art sardined into ugly rooms. I've gawked at the gaudy prices, and gaped at well-clad crowds of happy white people conspicuously spending hundreds of millions of dollars.




When art wins, everyone wins.

When art wins, everyone wins.




A lot of people still think caring about clothes is a dubious, unserious, frivolous, girlie thing.




I don't often go to curator or artist walk-throughs of exhibitions. For a critic, it feels like cheating. I want to see shows with my own eyes, making my own mistakes, viewing exhibitions the way most of their audience sees them.




The giant white cube is now impeding rather than enhancing the rhythms of art. It preprograms a viewer's journey, shifts the emphasis from process to product, and lacks individuality and openness. It's not that art should be seen only in rutty bombed-out environments, but it should seem alive.




Of all the biennials, triennials, quadrennials, internationals, and massive group shows, Documenta, established in 1955 and held once every five years in Kassel, Germany, is seen as the most serious. A statement show.




Artistic qualities that once seemed undeniable don't seem so now. Sometimes these fluctuations are only fickleness of taste, momentary glitches in an artist's work, or an artist getting ahead of his audience (it took me ten years to catch up to Albert Oehlen). Other times, however, these problems mean there's something wrong with the art.




Outside museums, in noisy public squares, people look at people. Inside museums, we leave that realm and enter what might be called the group-mind, getting quiet to look at art.




First let me report that the art in the Barnes Collection has never looked better. My trips to the old Barnes were always amazing, but except on the sunniest days, you could barely see the art. The building always felt pushed beyond its capacity.




Too many younger artists, critics, and curators are fetishizing the sixties, transforming the period into a deformed cult, a fantasy religion, a hip brand, and a crippling disease.




Turns out Picasso's passion for uncertainty, mystery, and the thrill of life never ended.




If only we could persuade galleries to observe a fallow period in which, for two months every other year, new and old works of art could be sold in back rooms and all main galleries would be devoted to revisiting shows gone by.




Kinkade's paintings are worthless schmaltz, and the lamestream media that love him are wrong. However, I'd love to see a museum mount a small show of Kinkade's work. I would like the art world and the wider world to argue about him in public, out in the open.



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