Thursday, January 08, 2009

The Importance of Art Blogs: Do Art Bloggers Influence Art Criticism and Appreciation?

The idea that art blogging is an important aspect of art writing in general has gained momentum in recent years. The change in attitude has been spearheaded by the actions and influence of several art bloggers. Art in American tackled the subject in the form of an article by Peter Plagens that involved feedback from veteran art bloggers in 2007. The article, titled ‘Report from the Blogosphere: The New Grass Roots’, detailed the importance of art blogs and the role they play within the context of the arts community. Several key figures in the art blogging community participated-- including Edward Winkleman, Roberta Fallon, and Tyler Green.

This momentum of acceptance has continued to advance into 2009. A recent article by art critic Martha Schwendener for The Village Voice suggests that art blogs have helped shape a more laissez-faire climate for art writing. Schwendener states, "Art blogs have created a new, largely unedited, admirably 'unprofessional'—hence, democratic—venue for people to speak their minds, gossip, or theorize about art.”. Thus, it is obvious that mainstream art publications are starting to acknowledge the work of specific art bloggers. However, this acknowledgement is a double-edged sword due to the fact that some individuals view art bloggers as a threat to traditional art media.

One can easily discover individuals who attempt to discredit the validity of art criticism, exhibit reviews, and other art related reporting by art bloggers simply because they are “bloggers“. That attitude enforces the opinion that only a select few are worthy of offering art criticism-- which is exactly why these individuals will inevitably loose the imagined battle they are waging against art bloggers and other forms of alternative press. Today the arrogance of print is ousted at every turn. True, some art bloggers do need to have their validity questioned, but that does not mean that all art bloggers should be lumped together. After all, there have been cases of traditional art publications being discredited. Does that mean they are all bad?

These issues are of interest to me. Thus, I’ve decided to do further research concerning art blogs and the impact they have had on the global art community-- as well as the influence they have played concerning art appreciation in the eyes of the general public-- especially in the United States. This is no easy task. There are many hard line opinions concerning art bloggers and the validity of their art criticism and exhibit reviews. Even within the art blogging community there is division over the importance of art blogs. There are also strong opinions as to which art bloggers are the most valid. Fortunately, I’ve not noticed a strict pecking order yet. In fact, most of the art bloggers who focus on art criticism, exhibit reviews, and opinions are very supportive of the community as a whole.

I’m currently conducting a survey involving over 1,000 art bloggers in order to examine how art bloggers view the importance of their work compared to traditional forms of art media. So far the opinions have been mixed. Some art bloggers-- mostly those with backgrounds in traditional art media-- view art blogs as more of a hobby than anything else. In other words, they question the integrity of art blogging in general. Other art bloggers take a hard line stance against traditional art media by claiming that traditional art media is more apt to report on, critique, and review artists based on who has bought ads and the connections that artists and gallerists have with individuals who are in charge of the publications. However, some art bloggers have had similar opinions concerning specific art blogs based on the research I've conducted so far.

The opinions that have been shared with me are between me and each individual art blogger who has participated. So no, I will not publish comments without consent nor will I address specific views that may link the blogger to his or her viewpoint unless the individual desires me to do so. I want to stress that this survey is not about creating division in the art blog community nor is it designed to single anyone out. The goal is simply to address some of the thoughts that art bloggers have about art blogging in general. However, I will consider interviewing art bloggers about their art blog and their opinions of art blogging in general if anyone is interested in taking a more direct approach to the topic. This will be an ongoing project on the Myartspace Blog.

Feel free to comment with your opinion concerning the influence of art blogs in general compared to the influence of traditional art publications. Feel free to comment with your list of favorite art blogs as well.

Link of Interest:
What Crisis? Some Promising Futures for Art Criticism by Martha Schwendener for The Village Voice

Take care, Stay true,

Brian Sherwin
Senior Editor


Anonymous said...

I don't think indie art bloggers will replace traditional art magazines but the magazines will feel a crunch if they don't pursue the same direction with as much dedication. If the old art press is slow to adapt they might go out of business eventually. I know longer have subscriptions because I can find most of the same stories on the five art blogs that I view the most.

Anonymous said...

I like

nathaniel said...

I think that the big power of the blogs is the potential to pick "new stars." Blogs don't have to sell as many papers or zines, don't have as much money to shell out for upkeep, and so can spend more time on lesser known and avant-garde artists without having to worry about the bottom line quite as much. Most of the artists I read about here on myartspace, for example, I didn't know beforehand, but am glad to know now. Paddy Johnson probably covers slightly more well-known artists, mostly from and in NYC, but many of them are not quite as mainstream as the big press. Ed Winkleman rose to stardom along with several of the artists he represents, while writing about them and others. Really, good art writing is harder to come by than good art, and so good art bloggers rise fast, sometimes along with the artists they write about most. More power to them!

Anonymous said...

There needs to be division in the art world, as there is absolutely no "dialogue" as the PC crowd likes to call it. No one takes a stand, and backs it up, even if it ruffles feathers. No one wants to call out others, say what they believe in, and why. No one wants to make art better, only sell it more. For it is all marketing now, and arts purpose has been put aside while huge volumes of artistes are pumped out of mediocre art academies every year. The field is awash in people, but not in talent.

Great artists of the past have ALWAYS been very critical of others, just as they are extremely constructively self critical. If you dont, you really dont care. its just a lifestyle you want, not to create works that move humanity. That takes conflict, and resolution. if you cant take the heat, get out of the kitchen, tru art is not for the weak.

Winkleman is a buncha effeminant academic pseudo intellectuals, afc girl is nice, but jsut a party girl. is the only real site i can find, he will post anything, and promotes the turmoil needed for a new art to arise, one that is valid, and concerns humanity, not the individual desires of the small, inbred, isolated art world as it has become over the last few decades.

If you cant call crap feces, then there really isnt any dialogue going on now, is there? Just gotta back it up. Its called competition, and survival of the fittest, art took itself out of evolution long ago. And so simmers in a cesspool of self indulgant mediocrity.

art collegia delenda est

Anonymous said...


A simple spell check and proof read before submitting posts (of discouragement) would afford you some credibility.

Do yourself a favor and drop the bitterness. You are not substantiating your arguments (whatever they may be) or (for the benefit of young artist who are following this blog) providing any viable alternatives to the art you are so quick to denounce.

Put simply, get over yourself.

Anonymous said...

You obviously have rading comprehension issues. i have stated repeatedly, that we must get back to basics, taht illustration sof absurd academic ideas, so limited and ridiculous theya re easy to pull off, must be abandoned. Masters theseis BS must end, projects and installations are pseudo art, commissions of purpose are.

get back to drawing, color, and structure. The fundamentlas, and taht art is always at its best when musical, not literary, thats for decadent times like we have just left. Poetry and lyricism, organized chaos is waht hits to the core, if one has the life experiences to build upon. No one is good leaving college, no one, and especially not artists. The real world awaits, that msut be understood, felt, explored, and you will never get there living in artiste communities.

As far as the typos, get over it, I got better things to do than teach kindergartners of art, who cant understand the rudimentals of their craft. I am talking to other artists who want to create, build upon what has come before, and enrichen life, not their pocket books. I am not the only one, far from it, but artists are always few, and need to rid thmselves of the current Academy of thier age. those who can do, those who cant teach, and are anal about typos.

art collegia delenda est

josephbolstad said...

Nice to hear from you yet again, Donald. What's wrong with being effeminate, by the way... would you care to elaborate? As far as I'm concerned, Winkleman has been quite generous about educating younger artists on various topics -- not academic ideals, but down-to-earth goals.
To get back on topic, art blogging has the undeniable advantage of speed. Until the major art publications hop on this trend and have their own writers keep consistent blogs, they will be under serious competition from the more well known art-bloggers mentioned here.
What about the issue of making a living? I doubt that any of these bloggers are somehow paid for what they do. While the speed, and perhaps honesty, of art blogs are both virtues, I'd hate to see the world of art journalism (and the possibility of making a living writing about art) vanish because of them.