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Prof. Dr. S.V. Zagraevsky


Can Russian art-critics reborn?


Published: journal-archive Postklau, 01-03.2015.



The following text was translated from the Russian original by the computer program

and has not yet been edited.

So it can be used only for general introduction.






Someone has such a question would cause a reasonable counter question: do Russian art criticism stopped existence, if we are talking about its revival?

In order to understand, there are in Russia today art criticism or not, it is necessary first of all to define what we understand under this term.

"Big Soviet encyclopedia (BSE) gives this definition: " Art criticism - evaluation, interpretation and analysis works of art, phenomena of contemporary artistic life, directions, types and genres of contemporary art. Art criticism is one of the branches of art".

Recently her often called on foreign harmony - art-criticism. It creates some confusion, as in the West, art critic commonly called everyone who writes scholarly and popular books and articles about art of all times, that is the most adequate translation of the term "art critic" in Russian language is not an art critic, and the art critic. Therefore, we will call art criticism that's right - on Russian lad, and in her determination to adhere strictly to the TSB, we have to consider it one of the branches of art.

In his turn, according to the TSB the same, andiskusstvoznanie (art history) - "complex of social Sciences, studying art - artistic culture of society in General and individual types of art, their specificity and relation to reality, their appearance and patterns of development, role in the history of public consciousness, the relationship with social life and with other phenomena of culture, the whole complex of questions of the content and form of art works".

From this definition it follows that since art history is a complex science, and industry art criticism is also a science and an art critic is a scientist, specializing in contemporary art.

In this regard, we should possible to clearly distinguish between concepts such as art criticism and journalism. Because we as the basis of our definitions of accepted terminology TSB (a fundamentally new vision terminology in the humanitarian field since then has not appeared), we see that says TSB about journalism: it is a type of public gathering activities, processing and periodic dissemination of relevant information through channels mass communication (press, radio, television, movies, etc.)

That is art criticism is a science, and journalism - social activity that can to coincide with the scientific activity only by chance, and it happens very rarely. And if art criticism is not in the form of scientific treatise, but in the form of newspaper articles or blogin The Internet, she still, in theory, should be deep and comprehensive the analysis of the material, consideration is given to each phenomenon in contemporary art the broad context of art history, the availability of adequate and professionally reasonable judgment, - in short, everything that distinguishes scientific papers from the writings of Amateurs, even the most talented and educated.

There is another required feature, which should be different artistic criticism. This feature contained in the term "criticism". Remember how defines it the same TSB:

"1) Pasbar (analysis) what-ever with the aim to give the assessment. 2) Negative judgment about what-ever, an indication of flaws... Scientific criticism in dependence from its object included in the composition of those or other scientific disciplines: Literary criticism is one of the topics of literary criticism, criticism of the art - section of arts, theatre - section of theater".

In addition, here reaffirmed the definition of art criticism as a scientific discipline, pay attention, and the first and the second value of the underlying term "criticism". Critics, including art, should evaluate, including the number is negative. Without this, it can be anything but criticism.

And the art market these estimates are based on the categories of "good-bad" and "better-worse", indirectly (through galleries, salons, auctions, private and public purchase, etc.) are becoming quite specific monetary value, because without the concepts of "good-bad-worse-better" to adequately determine the price of a work of art is impossible.

For example, how to explain the picture painted by Aivazovsky, many times more expensive written by his contemporary, the painter N, though the picture N - same size and the same oil on canvas? When explaining to do a lot of reservations about the talent, education, expertise, fame, the theme of work, social status, etc., but will still lie simple, though perhaps offensive to descendants and fans N true: Aivazovsky as an artist much better than N. And at all times task art criticism was to convey this simple (in this case) or extremely complicated (in the vast majority of cases) the truth to lovers and connoisseurs art.

Some believe that in art criticism certainly must be present criticism in the second sense of the definition BSE, that is a negative judgment. Actually this is desirable, but not necessary. Definitely different: if the article or scientific work art criticism are extremely positive judgments, these judgments must be justified. These justification can be or not to be research on the form (depending on the audience for whom they are intended), but in fact - always.

In this regard, here is another simple example. If in a certain the article is written: "There was opened the exhibition of works NN, one of the greatest modern artists", and further there is only information about the number and hang out pictures, opening hours of the exhibition and the honorable guests at the opening, it is not art criticism and journalism. And the assertion that the little-known NN is one of the greatest contemporary artists, issues and the nature of journalism ever Amateur, or "custom".

And for art criticism, that is, a person who owns the basics of art and knows the true value of the little-known and, frankly, incompetent NN, to turn an artist in "President of Earth" will be extremely difficult. Not because the critic is not find the words for it (as they say, the paper will endure), but because together the qualification comes from and understanding of basic professional ethics. If want honor. Few people want to exchange your weight in professional the community on the "thirty pieces of silver" from the immensely ambitious artist NN or it managers. Because of the broad artistic community critics have never been, and colleagues are always very closely watched publications each other.

Of course, to err is human, to get involved, annoyed to go on about in the mood for, and art critics of this Cup should pass. But on and there is a notorious professional community to point out each other errors and inaccuracies, to argue, to criticize, even to scold and shame. In eventually all this contributes to another important purpose of art criticism is to generate discussion around creating art that "degree public tension", which at all times was interesting and attractive for the General public.

The ability to work with the General public, to convince Amateurs in the rightness of their judgment, to perform the educational role, are also important properties, must possess artistic criticism. Without wide audience the masses are unlikely to be able to determine who is better, Picasso or his contemporary, seascapes N. And the fact that today the answer to this question but a few people cause doubts and objections (all clear that Aivazovsky better) - merit art critics of the XIX-XX centuries.

The word "merit" (by analogy with "combat" and other merits) here appeared accidental. To be an art critic is not easy,not only because that it is necessary to have professional knowledge and skills. According to the Patriarch Russian art critics Anatoly Kantor, "the critic is under double pressure - from the artist and from the newspaper or magazine where agree to print his article." Therefore, criticism must be able to defend and to defend their opinions (including from offended fans dubious talent N, NN and the like), and while he should be able to find a common language with media. Because if the latteris not interested in an objective analysis of the art market, then why would they art criticism? Journalists somehow write exhibition reviews, and okay.

So art criticism is necessary and fundamental knowledge, and professionalism, and civic courage, and diplomacy, and flexibility, it is not can afford to withdraw into the academic world of "big science", he needs constant contact with artists, and with the media, and with public. To combine all these properties is very, very difficult, and it is the main reason, as we have already mentioned: professional community art critics have never wide was not. Starting from the origins of the Russian art criticism in the early nineteenth century, when it was published "a Walk to the Academy of arts" Konstantin Batiushkov, in every historical epoch number professional art critics in Russia did not exceed several tens of people.




Despite the relatively small number of critics, art criticism in Russia of XIX-XX centuries not only existed, but flourished, and took a variety of forms.

We mentioned "a Walk in the Academy of fine arts" Konstantin Batiushkov, which poet and critic shared his aesthetic attitude to the world, to St. Petersburg and its architecture. Later, in the 1840-ies, public the attention to art was already so strong that the opportunity arose to publish the magazine art criticism - it was "Art newspaper", led by Nestor Kukolnik. It was the only magazine specifically devoted to art criticism, the history of the Russian Empire. In it The puppeteer told a lot of interesting episodes from the history of Russianart. Views it as criticism rather conservative, but they are imbued understanding the responsibility for the printed word.

The next stage in the development of Russian art criticism is associated primarily with the brothers Maikov. Undoubted advantage of the brothers as critics was strictly professional a considered approach to each work. The famous poet Apollon Maikov to be considered an Amateur, to the criticism he spoke infrequently, but wrote and bright interested, and undoubtedly expanded the range fans of fine art due to its popularity as the author well-known ballads and songs in the folk spirit. Valerian Maikov was Russia's first professional art critic, columnist artistic life in the country, attached to the European forms of exhibitions and galleries. Horizons Valerian Maykov was wider than the his brother, since he considered it his task to acquaint the readers with various trends in art.

Newspapers then started systematically to cover the events and exhibition of the life, and there was a need for qualified critics with his position, responsible attitudes of regular readers. At this time began the polemic and journalistic stage of the history of Russian art critics, most prominent representative of which was Vladimir Stasov. He was not the enemy of aesthetics, as claimed by his opponents, but he contributed to their aesthetic Hobbies such public passion that enemies criticism it was easy to find the arguments to brand it as "the destroyer of aesthetics". But Stasov had excellent artistic taste, which combined with hot a sense of social responsibility, and both emotions - aesthetic and social - formed bright weave, long after became the peculiarity of the Russian criticism. Yes, and Stasov, who lived and wrote a very long time, has become the norm and alive an example for many generations.

Since the end of XIX century in disputes with Stasov became a generation of critics "World of art" - Alexander Benois, Nikolai Wrangel, Igor Grabar, Georgy Lukomsky, Sergei Makovsky. They saw in themselves the defenders of the "free art", "art for art", nonpropagative "chimeras public service." However, it is noticeable that sarcastic opponents Stasov were largely his heirs - and in the vehemence of debate, in the sense of social liability art. The most important thing that combined with his Stasov opponents of the "World of art", is a quest to discover the unknown talents and unknown monuments of Russian art of all eras, to make them known to the world, appreciated by specialists and the General public. Being human temperament and decisive intervention in the artistic life of Russia, they were researchers, advocates and promoters of Russian art culture.

1920-ies directed art criticism in Russia in a new direction. The discovery and promotion of artistic values has not lost its appeal, but the artists and create numerous critics Association on ideology and style, and argue that the programwhose associations are able to create new values for society's future. Art critic of the 1920-ies - it first of all a fighter for the benefits of the Association, its art party ("realists", "constructivists", "symbolism"), revealing enemies and stating the principles of his program. This meant that the critic had in visual images to describe the works of those contemporaries that he was congenial and the program, those artists of the past, the legacy of which he thought it necessary to lean on. Naturally, this required extensive, systematic art training.

Not surprisingly, this raised such critics with a wide theoretical horizons, as Mikhail Alpatov, Anatoly Bakushinskii, Abram Efros, James , Tugendhaft. Brilliant polemical the performances of those years will remain classic examples of military and eloquent art criticism and assertive, even aggressive activity and aesthetic public positions.

Criticism of the 1930-ies kept this warlike, aggressive tone. In this she was not the free choice of likes and dislikes, but not criticism ceases to be criticism, even if free choice critical judgment impossible, even if it turns into a set of guidelines as to what must see. Nevertheless, until the mid-1950s in art criticism of Russia there were only two genres - "chanting" and "separation".

Freedom of critical judgment, began to revive in the years of the "thaw". Exhibition dedicated to the 30th anniversary of the Moscow artists ' Union, Moscow The Manezh in 1962 and dramatic clashes between the authorities, demanding unconditional submission of creative work to the requirements of the Communist party, and part of artists to advocate for full freedom of creativity, Dali theme for endless disputes. And it was a discussion of global importance because political differences were transferred to the soil fine arts, which allowed the most evil and acute political attacks to move in a more "safe" area for analysis of paintings and sculptures.

In this situation critics felt that their opinions and assessments have become of interest to people living on different continents and representing the most diverse community. It gave art criticism new tone: she felt that appeals not just to colleagues and the public, and to the world and eternity. Therefore, leading critics of those years - Alexander Kamensky, Anatoli Kantor, Vladimir Kostin, Dmitry Sarabianov, Muda Jablonski, Anna Yagodovskayaand others have managed not to succumb to intimidation and threats of punishment, such terrible as in the times of Stalin, but rather sensitive, and acted boldly, openly, declaring the rights of art honestly testify of his time. Criticism of the fifties and sixties has become a major public phenomenon, we can say, the finest hour art criticism as a public significant activities.

The "stagnation" that began in the USSR in the late 1960s, was marked by the departure of critics of direct conflict with the authorities. The removal of Khrushchev in 1964, was comprehensive political, economic and cultural revolution: in particular, direct confrontation with the authorities and the intelligentsia was discontinued. Encountered in severe harassment "underground" art soon got the opportunity to exhibit, often "legal" and "underground" artists even held their the exhibition together. Intellectuals, for their part, took a lesson, teach her Khrushchev, and for a long time refused to show theirpublic activity, withdrawing from the world in the area of individualism, symbolism and metaphorical riddles. The authorities, until called intellectuals to social activity, this time were glad that restless elements society took refuge in their "ivory towers".

The position of art criticism in those years was complicated what does the University have been significantly expanded and deepened in many areas of theory and history of art criticism but as a special area art history aside: even if the students learned a lot from her history, methods and practical guidelines was to last them for the book with seven seals.

However, the art critics of the late sixties and seventies in these "stagnant" conditions of existence had ceased, although largely lost its ideological sharpness and public pathos. Critics have learned eloquently to talk about the mysteries and paradoxes of painting and graphics. Sometimes even seem that artists come up with the most intricate compositions, to then to read about them fascinating story. The art of chanting intricate inventions then rose to a great height, it seemed that the picture or figure are in order about them appeared in the storythe newspaper or magazine. In this story the great significance of the historical roots of copyright style, which was erected by the mannerism, Rococo, surrealism, and historical erudition gradually began to take the place of critical judgment.

Paradoxically, the positive role that the art critics of those years remained influential social force, played the Union of artists of the USSR, which provided the majority of its members a guaranteed income. Accordingly, the members of the Union could afford think less about "daily bread" and more about creativity and creative collaboration with colleagues and the public. For those years characterized by close and regular communication critics and artists discuss exhibitions, club nights, conferences, seminars, etc.

And those who for various the reason was not admitted to the Union, indifferent could not stay, protested and debated, drawing on his side, and art critics as credible experts, whose words listened the broad mass of the public.

All this in the last two decades of Soviet rule created quite rightly feeling bubbling artistic life. This time has generated a lot of such excellent critics, as Leonid Bazhanov, Xenia Bohemian, Michael Herman, Yuri Gerchuk, Evgeny Kovtun, Erast Kuznetsov, Viktor Martynov, William Meyland, Alexander Morozov, Lion Mochalov, Yuri Rusakov, Vladimir Yumatov and others.




Since the mid to late eighties in Russia established free the art market.

It is no exaggeration to say that at this time began the "Golden the decade of Russian art". In Soviet times, public interest in the the works of contemporaries fueled by the prohibitions on "modernism" and some social themes. And when in the era of "glasnost" bans were lifted, this interest, coupled with the euphoria of freedom of creativity and access to information, instantly led to the fact that the audience rushed to the exhibition halls and opened in a large number of galleries and Russian and Western collectors - in artists ' studios. And don't just look at the pictures, and to buy. Yes and museums immediately took the opportunity to replenish their collection of the once "forbidden fruit". And those artists of"non-conformists", which in Soviet times was able to withstand persecution and to assert themselves against censorship, suddenly overnight turned out to be recognized and in demand.

It is no exaggeration to say that art criticism at the time was the main tool for the formation of artistic taste of the public, the promotion works on the free market, respect artists with galleries, salons, museums and collectors, and most importantly - in the pricing policy. New names in art criticism appeared little (which, I remember, caused a certain amount of apprehension), but the authority of those critics who has experienced times of "stagnation" and was able in one way or another extent to fit into the free market (as Leonid Bazhanov, Eugene Drums, Xenia Bohemian, Victor Martynov, William Meyland, Alexander Morozov), was in the circles of galleristsand artists is very high.

But soon after 1998 this "Golden decade" is over. At the outbreak of memorable "August crisis", there was still hope that the temporary market decline that as soon as collectors and art lovers will again become available money, they will invest in paintings and sculptures are not only long dead, but living artists... erTy of hope was in vain. The contemporary art market since then not only did not rise, but continues to drop steadily.

How he fell - exactly impossible to say, as more or less objective data in terms of sales works of art of our contemporaries (as well as Antiques) was no and no. The vast majority of transactions were carried out "under the table"and is. But it is clear that the total this market compared to the "Golden decade" has decreased many times over.

Proportionally effective demand for works of art and degraded artistic life - exhibitions, lectures, discussions, meetings, the resonance in the press... InCE it is kind of like, but not more than than "sort of". If, for example, on the majority of exhibitions contemporary art audience only comes on opening day, and this is the audience is almost exclusively from friends and relatives participants and organisers? Or if the vast majority of reports about these exhibitions "custom"? Or if the interesting lectures of the most prominent art critics on topics that, in theory, should be of concern to all, walk for five or ten the listeners? Can it be called a full artistic life?

In our time artistic life became chaotic movement of single - and artists, frantically running around the galleries in the hope of something to sell, and gallery owners, with the same purpose, frantically running between collectors, and collectors who are trying in this turbid stream to form a quality collection. And artists in the country - tens of thousands, gallerists , thousands of serious collectors - tens, and even large collections - one, two, and a handful...

Some artists, making enormous efforts make their way to the international market and periodically included in the auction quotes, sometimes even managing to get for your works decent money. Succeeding in trade in the West and some Russian gallery. But compared with volume art markets of the most developed countries of the world is a drop in the ocean.

Characteristically, reverse is the process "import" of works by contemporary Western artists in Russia for sale - virtually nonexistent. Is it possible after that to speak seriously about inclusion the Russian art market in the world?

Plus General deterioration the investment climate in Russia. Plus the negative long-term economic forecasts. In short, against the Russian art market operates global geopolitical and macroeconomic situation.

Moving from a General overview the current situation in the art market to the topic of this article - art criticism, pay attention to the grown sharply in recent years, the interest of the public, and collectors to socialist realism. Specify: not to "Sots-art" (a surge of interest which occurred in the "Golden decade"), namely the textbook the socialist realism.

And it's not that people globally tastes have changed so quickly in the last few years, this could not happen. And it's not just that modern the art market is so big his proposal: socialist realism in large volumes offered ten or fifteen years ago. The main reason here is next: social realism to most viewers and buyers of works art was a kind of "anchor" that allows you to cling to the "soil" - reliable, friendly, calm, familiar, time-tested, and causing positive reminiscences of childhood and youth.

This phenomenon - from the same series, which is always greater interest in Antiques compared to modern art. And this is logical: in the antique market is more or less checked, artists more or less known, the trend is more or less calculable, information real sales there is at least approximately - and, hence, investment in this segment is relatively reliable.

And in contemporary art it turns out that the audience, especially the buyer, "the catch". More or less educated audience (and uneducated on the show at all stopped going) understand that "academic" criteria for evaluation of works by formal skill transfer reality, of composition, choice subjects, etc. are gone. Today, virtually any viewer familiar with abstract art, conceptualism and numerous other "isms". Yes and in the most accessible and understandable for a huge most people "ISM"the realism - the proposal very, very great, to distinguish between genuine and realistic craftsmanship from numerous imitations can be difficult.

Titles awards and other insignia of the artist, the mention of his numerous exhibitions and the availability of works in museums, even the "untwisted" it name in the media in our time is also not attract viewers, and the more buyers: everyone understands that the artist has the ability to activethe self-promotionand the establishment of good relations with the authorities, gallery owners and journalists are not necessarily evidence of an outstanding artistic gift.

Here the audience and collectors, and art market would have to come art criticism. We have said that the specifics the art market is that it is art evaluation of the place of the artist in art history, his work in General and each specific work should be the basis of forming opinions of the public and, in eventually, prices for a work of art (speaking in market terms, to determine the quality of the product). All other factors in the formation of opinions and prices ("untwisted"the name of the artist, the status of the exhibition hall, Museum or gallery, the credibility of the auction, the personal tastes of the buyer and seller, the accidental coincidence of circumstances, etc.) is secondary. Aboutthe TsENKI art critics, which are based on the category of "good-bad" and "better-worse"should indirectly (through galleries dealers, auctions, private and public purchase, etc.) to buy quite specific monetary value, because without the concepts of "good-bad-worse-better" to adequately determine the price of a work of art is impossible.

It is in theory. But in reality, the situation is completely different. Negative changes on the Russian market of modern art had an impact on art criticism indeed fatally. Art criticism on the market works art not only does not generate any tastes and ratings, she's not sounds. You might expect that in the worst case criticism would be reduced in proportion to the reduction in the market, but the situation was even worse - art criticism is almost completely gone.

Even those media who position themselves as specialized in matters of art, full of not only purely positive (simply speaking in praise), but also shallow, no art not substantiated information, which has no relation to art criticism. Stories about the artists so crowded as positive biographical facts ("deserved", "folk", "spent so much "exhibition, "paintings are in the museums", etc.) that occurs the feeling of reading is not critical and even journalistic articles, and autobiography or "summary" for employment.

Like well said William Meyland about one newspaper, specializing in the visual arts: "This a newspaper is a quiet and unremarkable in General colourful stream of modern printing products. Its not nice reading pensioners and the elderly. They find there a lot of cute texts that are remotely attitude to art. As for art critics, it was not spends the night. It's not her place and not her occupation with his fist, glorifying fine emekuku".

To art criticism are irrelevant and numerous exhibition reviews, as if copied from press releases prepared and send the organizers.

The same picture with the overview of the event the contemporary art world in non-specialized media, but there articles, usually shorter than in profile, and that's the difference.

So it turns out that art criticism, which in theory is one of the most important parts of such a serious science, like art history, practice has degenerated into journalism, mostly at its worst, "custom-made" form. There are exceptions, but compared to the sad picture they almost invisible.

As art lovers, as they say, fools: when they dazzled by the abundance of laudatory epithets in any critical article about any artist, they understand that "every Sandpiper praises its swamp, and no trust to read not experiencing.

In principle, the spectator (respectively, buyer) might be interested in the sharpness of discussions, emerging around the fine arts. ("Intellectual content" such discussions, as we have said, is also one of the most important tasks art critics). In Soviet times, this tension was maintained constant conflict between the "conformist" and "nonconformist" in these the conflict took an active part in the state (of course, on the side "conformists"), there was a serious struggle, and this struggle with sinking hearts watched not only citizens of the USSR, but also all over the world.

Cruel vicissitudes of this fight (like destroying paintings with the help of bulldozers) with the fall of the Soviet power, thank God, was over. But as they say, the water was vyplesnut baby: together with extreme ideological sharpness is gone all that ideological sharpness and and a little bit of interesting discussion. And this is not surprising: the Soviet ideological heritage was even less "robust" than manufacturing and research, and to exploit it in a positive, and in negative context, it was possible for a short while, it was not enough even for the "Golden decade".

The result is disastrous: in our time to the public in General no criteria, except "like - dislike", does not exist, and when purchase paintings or sculptures such an important landmark, as rated places in the history of art, everywhere is replaced by a set of secondary factors - "the popular" author, status, gallery, personal preferences, etc. The choice of works of art (things, the definition of unique and which is not only a decoration, but also long-term investment) is akin to the choice of bulk commodities such as televisions or refrigerators, with the only difference (not in favor of art market) that the "producers" of paintings and sculptures by many times more than manufacturers consumer electronics, as "consumers" - accordingly, many times less.

And according to the General laws economy, with a significant excess of supply over demand, the prices of mass the goods are steadily falling. This further worsens the situation in art the market.

It would seem that this falling prices professional collectors should enjoy and cheaply to buy works of art, then it will make good money. This, in turn, would revive the market. In theory. But in practice everything is different: any, even budget buy is a waste of money if the artist already after a few years, few will remember (and this often happens). So, for investments in contemporary art you have to be sure that the piece is actually worth buying. And the relative confidence here can to give objective, impartial and science-based art critique that today in fact.

Exclusively to your taste and intuition serious collector will not rely always (the art of combining fundamental knowledge and skills to earn a lot of money - the exception rather than the rule), so wouldn't it be easier and not safer for him to invest in relatively stable and tested the Antiques market, and even in other markets?

Thus, no more or less visible and influential art criticism influences negatively the General, and without depressing the situation on the market of modern Russian art.




Objective this sad state of Affairs to art criticism or not? Maybe have a negative effect on her any time, and even subjective factors?

Art criticism is not taken out of nowhere, her form specific people - critics. And critics, unlike critics (involuntary tautology), have not gone away: alive and well many of "pillars" and the Soviet era, and the "Golden decade" of the Department of art criticism and art history of Russian universities produced annually and release hundreds of experts who are able to engage in artistic criticism and if you have the desire and capability could enrich this industry of art.

Why and professional, and potential criticism do anything but criticism? We see here two reasons.

The first reason is the material. Art critic whose opinion claims to scientific validity and credibility (and, accordingly, may to benefit the art market), must be professional. "Between thing" to deal with criticism is almost impossible: the critic stops adequately navigate the current art situation though, because he didn't enough time to walk around the exhibitions and revisions and browse a huge the amount of materials that constantly appear in connection with the work and its fellow critics, and artists.

And professional needs to get to work, reward, or he may to be elementary have nothing to eat.

Who is today on the Russian art market is willing to pay for objective, impartial, scientific criticism?

Media? They will print critical articles and respectively, to pay fees critics, only if there is interest the public to objective and scientifically sound analysis of the situation in art the market. But the interest of the public just do not, otherwise the market would not be in such a deplorable condition.

In the end, and core and non-core media are not art criticism, and the pandering to underdeveloped tastes of the public. And "indulge" can do better, if you hire pliant, nimble and undemanding of journalists, not professional art critics, who, as a rule, have much greater ambitions. Besides, the journalist, unlike from criticism, is universal, it can "throw on culture", and it is possible - and in a "hot spot" or on the coverage of political events.

And so it happened that art criticism has lost not only potential royalties from the media, but also venues for performances.

Whether to pay for art criticism by the public? At least indirectly - for example, critic publishes their articles at their own expense, and they disagree bring some no profit? Or placing articles on the Internet, on his website comes many visitors, and advertisers?

But in modern conditions it is absolutely unreal. Not interested in today the public neither the article nor a book on art criticism. Her and very modern the art is not very interesting, and as such a specific area as criticism, and even more so.

Can I pay criticism artists? No, of course. Them for "lying" art market money get nowhere. If they could unite in something even remotely resembling public importance and scope "Association of Peredvizhniki", "World of Art" or "Jack of diamonds", these associations would have had its own audience, its sources of funding and, accordingly, their artistic criticism. But we have already seen that in our time the artistic life of Russia turned into a chaotic movement of individuals.

Can I pay art criticism collectors of works of art? Theoretically, as we have already said, you can as you to invest in contemporary art need to be sure that we or work worthy of purchase and the relative confidence here can only give artistic criticism. But practically, the collector need not "their" criticism, and criticism in General, to create a broad and objective picture. While the modern Russian art collectors market is extremely small, and to support (or at least try to maintain) criticism in General, they have not enough money.

Can I pay criticism any sponsors - so to speak, admirers talent? Hardly. This is more or less possible for artists, but the talent criticism is not so unambiguous and understandable to the layman, how the artist's talent. The combination of the potential sponsor of big money and understanding art criticism is something staggering.

Can I pay the critique gallery? I guess in theory, Yes, but in practice - why Kommersant-gallerist art critic? To enter artists, which is promoted by the gallery, in art history? The gallerist is another problem: more and sell today and will speak to the history of art, businessmen concerned enough. They are on the market, and market their cruel laws.

Sometimes it happens that the gallery owner himself is professional art critic. But because he works in the market, and subject to the laws of art, and the market. And no time to do art criticism: need to buy paintings, and hang, and sell, and press release to write, and a lot of Affairs to do: gallery - troublesome...

And the curators of the exhibitions, which can be (and in "the Golden the decade was often) art criticism, contemporary gallery is not needed: the trained eye, somehow picked up the paintings once hung. Why do we need high exposure culture, if the main aim is to sell?

Characteristically, gallerist and critic usually require from the artist absolutely different qualities: gallery - stability, critic - inspiration, development and creative searches. The critic will never perceive the artist as a workshop for the production of paintings, gallery - pretty often. The critic tries to shape the artistic taste of the buyer, the gallery owner - in every possible way to indulge any whim of the client, which is "always right".

So it turns out that money on the contemporary art market critics get nowhere.

But financial problems could lead to a reduction, but not to the disappearance of art criticism. Indeed, in the history of Russian art ever there was not a tradition to work solely for the money. "Not by bread alone man." If there is a sharpness ideological and artistic life for which you "go to battle", then what kind of dough are we talking? Yes and the media are not so necessary: for example, you can post articles on the Internet, and eternal "Samizdat" none Soviet times has not been canceled...

There is another reason that professional and potential art critics do anything but criticism. And it seems that this reason was indeed fatal.

And this is the reason that the participants of modern art the Russian market too well received by the Western principle of publicity: "counter-advertising" also an advertisement, and ideological and creative opponents better not to mention than to criticize.

Remember the exhibition dedicated to the 30th anniversary of the Moscow artists ' Unionin 1962. Immediately after she visited Khrushchev and yelled at artists, in the arena of long queues lined up: the audience it was interesting to see belittled "abstractitem" (as they were called Nikita S.). This is a typical case of how the attempt to "anti-advertising" became the strongest advertisement.

And if you look at any TV commercials - for example, washing powder, where there are competitors? Nowhere. Where can to see an overview of the General situation on the market? Nowhere. Where's there a little bit an objective analysis of the composition and consumer qualities of powders offered different firms? Nowhere. In the best case featured a "normal powder", which always and everywhere is worse than advertised.

Can you imagine a scientific dispute, the outcome of which depends on who are the scientists are better off financially, has a more representative appearance and louder voice? Of course, no. And in advertising everything happens that's right: who has more advertising budgets, who made advertising more vivid rollers and occupied more airtime, he sold more of their products.

Anatoly Kantor at the time, wrote that criticism should separate themselves from advertising. But, unfortunately, now any mention in the media and the Internet, and General all public mention in any context are perceived as advertising: this is another one of the Western PR.

And these principles of Western PR, participants learned art market in Russia, has caused perhaps the most severe blow to the domestic in art criticism. How you can enter the artist in the context of art the life of the country and the world, not to mention his colleagues from the point of view of the market are competitors? Yes in any way. For this artist invented numerous praises, lists only positive biographical facts such as "awarded", "spent so many exhibitions, paintings are in such collections", at best it is noted that "student so-and-so", but is it possible to call the context of the artistic life of the country and the world? And can it be called art criticism?

Fyodor Tyutchev wrote: "Blessed is he who visited this world in its fateful minutes". We "visited" the world of Russian art in its truly fateful minutes: before our eyes in the past ten to fifteen years virtually disappeared Patriotic art criticism. And circumstances due to which it disappeared, unfortunately, quite objective.

The circumstances in which criticisms can be reborn, too, must be objective, action enthusiasts-singles there's nothing to help. And variants of the Renaissance, unfortunately, not so much. Anyway, we see only three.

The first significant the rise of the Russian market of contemporary art. Without a valid artistic criticism is unlikely, but theoretically it might work the other factors set - strengthening of the Russian economy, the emergence of "fashion" in contemporary art, state support, etc. Then inevitably the emergence of art the media market, specializing in the review, analysis and the identification of trends (as is the case in the automotive industry or electronics). And here for such media are objective, impartial and scientific valid artistic criticism undoubtedly will need. With frames for her problems: if you have the desire and public demand, almost any the critic can become an art critic.

Second (unfortunately, even less likely): the emergence of a certain "God from the machine" (as in medieval theatre), which will establish, a "spin" and will be in further support certain media specializing in fact, what were we talking about in the first embodiment: an objective review, analysis and identification of trends the art market. So "God" can be the state, a large public Association or even a private individual - of course having the relevant tools. If such media are able to survive financially, to gain a wide audience and authority, to maintain objectivity and openness, it will inevitably become the center of attraction for the same objective, unbiased and research-based art critics, will be a platform for serious discussions. Undoubtedly, this criticism and such discussions will involve the audience - and, hence, and increase effective demand for works of art, and revive the art market. Next can begin a positive "chain reaction": disagree with the policies of this first media will be able create your own, to gain credibility and an audience, to argue, to criticize... the Art market and criticism will only benefit from this.

Third appearance in modern Russia is a large and wealthy art associations established on the ideological and artistic principles (as in his time were created "Association of the Wanderers" and "World of art"). Around these associations will be grouped together art critics, they will argue among themselves about basic matters of art, and about the place of art in life society, and just what style and which artist is better and what is worse (and they will probably argue, as argued in the nineteenthand in the twentieth century), and then there is the notorious sharpness discussions.

In conclusion we can say: if objective, authoritative, science-based art criticism in Russia can not be reborn, our era risks generally fall out of the history of Russian fine art. After all, no one can objectively describe and analyze what is happening in the country artistic processes, to discover young talents, to produce the truth in disputes... what then will lean descendants, forming an opinion about the art of our time? On your own taste, which formed is not known when and in unpredictable ways? The market element, passing up unpredictable names without any regard for history art?

Yet the basis contemporary art in Russia are "old stock" - artists, received from critics "start in life" in the times of the Soviet power and in the "Golden decade". But if art critics will be twenty or thirty years, then what can we expect then? Spontaneous and unpredictable market? The widespread triumph of the principle of assessment on the level of "like - dislike"? Pricing based not on behalf of the artist and the material and size of the work? The relegation of the great Russian art to the level of the Souvenirs?

God forbid.


Sergey Zagraevsky


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