Art criticism in the age of curating : from judgment to autonomy

Hernandez Velazquez, Yaiza Maria (2017) Art criticism in the age of curating : from judgment to autonomy. (PhD thesis), Kingston University, .


Since the turn of the century art criticism in the West has repeatedly declare itself "in crisis". This crisis had several iterations: the loss of stable formal criteria by which to criticise artworks in the wake of conceptual art and a related abdication of aesthetic judgement; the increasing dominance of the art market as the arbiter of artistic value; the functional replacement of art critics by curators, and the inadequacy of extant models of criticism in the face of contemporary practices that challenge traditional critical categories, practices that despite operating in the institutional field of art seem to dissolve into non-artistic activities. This work reads most of these positions as remaining too attached to a model of criticism grounded on aesthetic judgement, even when this is described as "aesthetic experience", "aesthetic framing", "affective intensity" or others. Against such an attachment, this work argues that it is artistic autonomy as the self-reflexion and autopoiesis of the artwork - as already advanced by the early German Romantics and developed by Walter Benjamin and Theodor Adorno - that remains crucial: art as critique rather than a critique of art. With this in mind, rather than understanding the rise of curating as a threat to criticism, this work proposed that in the aftermath of what Thierry de Duve has called "art in general", it is within the institutional forms that have started to emerge in the wake of this new understanding of curating, that artistic autonomy can continue to be developed in the context of a globalised artworld.

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