AUTOCRITIQUE: Essays on Art and Anti-Art: 1963-1987 by Barbara Rose

AUTOCRITIQUE: Essays on Art and Anti-Art: 1963-1987

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Essays and articles by the art critic (Vogue, New York) who, by her own admission, has moved from ""enthusiastic cheerleader of the art of my generation [the 60's and early 70's] to critic of its (and of necessity my own) excesses and limitations."" Discussing the Post-Abstract Expressionist World of Pop and Op, Minimalist and Conceptualist, ""Earth"" and ""Performance"" art, et al., Rose finds that it has become a world of ""entertainment, fashion, public relations and investment banking."" Not until standards are recognized that distinguish paintings from press releases and pork bellies will American art be revitalized, she insists. One of the major roots of the problem was the Post-Abstract Expressionist insistence on disassociating American art from the European tradition--a ""naive and provincial"" chauvinism, according to Rose. The ""media,"" with their insatiable demand for novelty and titillation, had a large share in the debacle as well. While she is lavish in her praise of such artists of the period as Jasper Johns and Helen Frankenthaler, she can be scathing in her evaluation of such ""superstars"" as Andy Warhol, who convinced the public ""that art should be easy, dumb, and effortless."" Warhol's collector-protÉgÉs, Robert and Ethel Scull, are flayed for making ""a virtue out of being vulgar, loud, and overdressed."" Finally, though, Rose sees a glimmer of hope--but only a faint one--that there may be a return to an art that is no longer a mindless commodity but a visionary ""catharsis of the imagination."" Most readers will pray she is right. Meanwhile, in assembling the work of nearly a quarter century, Rose has come up with an apologia that is remarkably frank, consistently thought-provoking, sometimes delightfully bitchy, and long overdue.

Pub Date: March 1st, 1987
Publisher: Weidenfeld & Nicolson