Contributed by Jonathan Stevenson / It’s tempting to lament the demise of the takedown review. The form invites both schadenfreude and outrage, which are energizing. In the literary world, it had been fading for some time until B.R. Myers and Dale Peck revived it in the naughts. They enjoyed an extended moment of visceral celebrity, but it seemed to burn out relatively quickly on a pyre of stern earnestness. Literary Hub does publish a list of the year’s “most scathing book reviews,” but the targeted screeds – self-promoting Beltway memoirs, vanity projects by anointed novelists, didactic polemics masquerading as fiction – tend to be overripe, low-hanging fruit that would be exempt from even the most charitable standard of forbearance. The general rule of civility is still that the compulsion to shape opinion is best served by measured reason rather than reactive assault.
Tag: Sean Tatol
Contributed by Sharon Butler / Sean Tatol, the art critic who writes a snarky website called Manhattan Art Review, recently penned a piece for The Point about art criticism titled “Negative Criticism, a sentimental education.” In an era in which many critics prefer to describe work rather than judge it, Tatol’s Manhattan Art Review is notable for the “Kritic’s Korner” — short, sometimes scathing reviews that include a star ranking system: five is great, four is good, three is okay, two is bad, and one is awful. At artnet critic Ben Davis took a deep dive into Tatol’s essay in a two-part piece (one and two), that brings in ideas by other critics who have written on the topic. Davis wonders if “’negative criticism’”’ is the right way to frame the solution, or even if ‘the question of judgment’ is really a full picture of what is at stake.” I asked contributors at Two Coats of Paint if they had any thoughts about the essays or the state of art criticism today, and today we are running responses from critic David Carrier and artist-critic Laurie Fendrich.