While things have been out of sorts here at Henri for the last few weeks I’ve been trying to stay connected to the art writers I really appreciate. Lately, I’ve been reading Charlie Finch’s work on artnet with both reverence and concern. Charlie’s writing in the last few months has been superlative. He gave an amazing critique of Dana Schutz’s new paintings which was both tough and tender. He’s been incisively commenting on photography – a show at MOMA and a heartfelt crit of Berkeley’s recent work. What is superlative in these recent posts is that Charlie has found a re-newed sharpness in his vision, and it’s coming through in his writing. My concern though is for the depth of Charlie’s angst about the state of art – which has been extremely poignant of late. In the last few posts there is no hope, no redemption and a great feeling of loss and ennui –
“For months, I have been meaning to write a piece called “The Death of Fine Art,” but couldn’t quite compel myself to believe it. After touring “Younger than Jesus,” I believe it. I have never seen a show like it before. It is antiseptic, safe, death to hierarchies of taste and distinctions of talent, and yet determined to neutralize our eyes with an overload of useless information. Apparently the 50 artists in the show were chosen from 500 finalists, any 50 of whom could be exchanged with the others.” That is from his assessment of the Jesus Gang.
In Charlie’s last post he finds America’s soul best exemplified in our obsessions for Sports and Porn and he asks, “…Is that all there is?”
This would read as misanthropic and bleak if Charlie’s writing wasn’t as sharp as it is. That being said I don’t always agree with Charlie, and that too is the point of good art writing. I like a strong opinion and a very strong writer, just as I like a strong artist. I find Charlie’s toughness and sharpness always challenging and inspirational whether it suits me or not. I HIGHLY recommend you check out Charlie’s latest posts if you get a chance. They are challenging, spiteful, truthful and masterful.
Incidentally while things are not quite back on an even keel here at Henri we should have more on tap soon. Stay tuned!