Some things first: I have not seen the Cindy Sherman retrospective at MoMA, yet, so I don’t (can’t in fact) have an opinion about it. I have been a fan of Sherman’s work for quite some time. I don’t think every body of work is equally strong, but that just adds to the mix: After all, why do we always expect every artist to produce one “hit” after the other? There’s go to be some risk, and risk always includes the risk of failure. Regardless, I found this article by Adam Lindemann interesting: “I will never cease to be amazed by how much consensus I find among New York’s leading art critics as they all hail and salute the same things, or for that matter, as they all gang up and bash the same things […]. The unanimity bothers me; I wish someone would offer some counterpoint to the prevailing view, bring some fresh air into the dialogue.” (more)
The article goes on to quote and discuss various other critic’s pieces - going “meta” if you will. And it focuses too much on the other critics, instead of offering much of a good counterpoint itself. But the general feeling I agree with: Wouldn’t it be more interesting for everybody if we had truly different voices and opinions?
There have been some great reviews of this show in the photo-blog world already. There are - I think in order of appearance actually - DLK’s review, Bryan Formhals’ review, and Stella Kramer’s review (if I’m forgetting something please email me). Of those three, Stella is not a fan - and she’s not afraid to say so.
I don’t mean to imply that I want critics arguing with each other just for the sake of entertainment. But I do know that there is quite a bit of disagreement in “photoland” about pretty much everything (the art critics mentioned in Lindemann’s article of course don’t belong to photoland. I sometimes wonder to what extent so-called art critics really understand photography. But that’s a different topic). You go out to have a drink with a photographer, and moments later you’re arguing about something. But you know where people are coming from. If someone disses some show you happen to love - that in fact just adds to your experience of the show, just as it might make the other person reconsider her/his opinion. It’s too bad we don’t have more of that in public.