It’s all good: Robert Storr edits the March issue of The Brooklyn Rail

The ArtSeen section of March issue of The Brooklyn Rail is guest edited by critic, artist and curator Robert Storr. Convinced that writing negative reviews is too easy, Storr asked writers to submit only positive pieces. Here’s an excerpt from his introduction:

Any writer worth their salt knows how to pan someone or something. If they don�t let me direct them to Nicolas Slonimsky�s Lexicon of Musical Invective
wherein every major composer from Beethoven to Berlioz to Bart�k is
summarily trashed with readable zest by a critic of their era. Or
consider the put-down as practiced by Roberta Smith, who has made it her
stock in trade if not her life�s work. [Although she seems to love the Whitney Biennial this year. –ed.] Who else beside her predecessor
at the New York Times, Hilton Kramer, has gotten such career
mileage out of slamming artists, curators, and other critics or gained
such rapt readership among the resentful and such a dubious reputation
for being a �good writer� as these two peas-in-a-pod of the Great Gray

But there I go practicing that minor art myself.

…For this issue of the Rail I have challenged colleagues to
attempt the difficult task of bestowing just praise on art and artists
that elicit their enthusiasm, admiration, even reverence. The risks
entail undermining the positive things one wishes to say by choosing the
wrong words, framing the issues in the wrong context, hitting the wrong
emotional chord or register and, most damagingly, misranking them as a
result of hedging one�s bets through misplaced caution or, indulging in
hyperbole through unbridled zeal. Meanwhile, the cost to the critic of
such miscalculations is to render him or herself vulnerable to counter
attack without being fully committed to the position taken. The after
life of such lapses can be truly embarrassing; being dogged by the bold
record of an ambivalently held view or worse publically recanting an
ostensibly firm conviction…

I didn’t have time to submit anything this month, but here’s what the other writers came up with:

JEAN DUBUFFET The Last Two Years
by Valery Oisteanu

by Linnea Kniaz

THOMAS SCHEIBITZ A Panoramic View of Basic Events
by Jonathan Goodman

JOSEF ALBERS Paintings, Drawings, Prints
by David Rhodes

FLORINE STETTHEIMER Hieroglyphs of Pleasure
by Jarrett Earnest

BILL JACKLIN Recent Work, New York
by David St.-Lascaux

JANET FISH Recent Paintings
by Vincent Katz

UNTITLED FRIEZE FAIR 2007 Installation by Gert and Uwe Tobias
by Anne Sherwood Pundyk

BOSILJKA RADITSA The Nature of Memory
by William Corwin

by Robert C. Morgan

by Stephanie Buhmann

by Corina Larkin

LIU XIA The Silent Strength of Liu Xia
by Charles Schultz

Image above: Philip Pearlstein, Portrait of Robert Storr, 1988,
oil on canvas, 30 x 28 inches.
Collection of Robert Storr and Rosamund Morley.

Related posts:
Robert Storr on the talk circuit: Grueling
The Art Newspaper and Robert Storr

to Two Coats of Paint by email.


  1. brooklyn rail fail. zero artseen in brooklyn, nor apparently any artists who even live in brooklyn. yet two occupy articles. disconnect all around.

  2. I guess you have to read Hyperallergic Weekend for Brooklyn coverage–that's where the Rail's former editors Tom Miccelli and John Yau are writing now.

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