At almost every international art fair over the past few years, there has been a panel discussion about the crisis in art criticism. I have found myself talking about the topic in London, Madrid, Berlin and Miami. ...
... There is indeed something faintly ludicrous in sitting around at an art fair talking about criticism. Never has the art market been stronger. Never has money been so powerful. Never have so many artists got so rich, and never has there been such alarming stuff on sale. Never have critics felt so out of the loop.
Searle also cites Jerry Saltz:
"At no time in the last 50 years has what an art critic writes had less effect on the market than now."
My first reaction was "Huh? You think criticism is there to influence collectors?". I mean, statistically, that's not the case. These statements are a bit of a red herring though - for Searle, criticism seems to boil down to the need to "[meet] art with more than silence". Critics' writing becomes part of the meaning that accrues around an art work over time.
There was a semi-diverting thread on Artbash a wee while ago about art criticism - and a comment that there's a difference between art reviewing and art journalism. The Listener seems to have opted for the latter, with none of last year's art reviewers appearing to have made the move over with new arts editor Guy Somerset.
I might start asking more people why they write criticism - or if that's even what they think they're writing....