Special Issue "Reconsidering the State(s) of Criticism"

A special issue of Arts (ISSN 2076-0752). This special issue belongs to the section "Visual Arts".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 14 August 2020.

Special Issue Editor

Dr. Stephen Moonie
Website
Guest Editor
Lecturer in Art History, Department of Fine Art, School of Arts and Cultures, Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 7RU, UK
Interests: modernist painting; modernist criticism; post-war art in the U.S.

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Ten years ago, James Elkins and Michael Newman's The State of Criticism was published. Despite the richness of the discussion provided by its contributors over two roundtables—and in the collection's numerous postscripts—the most striking aspect of the anthology was the complete lack of consensus upon fundamental notions around criticism. Those included: its function; its proper object of attention; its relationship to art history; its own history (or lack of it); and the perennial problem of 'neutrality' and the critic's complicities.

One might conclude from this rancour and dissension that criticism is a lost cause: although like painting, its death has been announced on a number of occasions. Some commentators claim that criticism has been superseded by 'theory', by 'art-writing', or by 'critical art'; others claim that criticism is compromised by its parochialism, or by its relationship to the market. Others have noted that critical prestige has been usurped by curators and collectors.

This Special Issue proposes that confusion over the role of criticism is a problem worthy of much more careful consideration, and that claims made for its demise can no longer be taken for granted. The appearance of Elkins' and Newman's anthology coincided with the 2007–08 Financial Crisis. Since then, the global cultural and political climate has changed significantly, requiring that we reconsider the place of criticism anew. Notions of judgment, voice, and critical discrimination may be more, not less pertinent in an age of 'big data', artificial intelligence, the widespread proliferation of culture, and the contentious notion of 'post-truth'. In what ways might criticism be re-considered in the current context? What kind of knowledge does it provide?

The issue invites essays that include, but are not limited to, the issues sketched above. The issue welcomes contributions which proceed from particular moments, or acts of criticism which open out onto to the broader issues at stake.  

Dr. Stephen Moonie
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a double-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Arts is an international peer-reviewed open access quarterly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1000 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • criticism
  • judgement
  • modernism
  • post-modernism
  • contemporary art

Published Papers (2 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle
Art Criticism and the State of Feminist Art Criticism
Arts 2020, 9(1), 28; https://doi.org/10.3390/arts9010028 - 25 Feb 2020
Abstract
This essay is in four parts. The first offers a critique of James Elkins and Michael Newman’s book The State of Art Criticism (Routledge, 2008) for what it tells us about art criticism in academia and journalism and feminism; the second considers how [...] Read more.
This essay is in four parts. The first offers a critique of James Elkins and Michael Newman’s book The State of Art Criticism (Routledge, 2008) for what it tells us about art criticism in academia and journalism and feminism; the second considers how a gendered analysis measures the “state” of art and art criticism as a feminist intervention; and the third, how neo-liberal mis-readings of Linda Nochlin and Laura Mulvey in the art world represent feminism in ideas about “greatness” and the “gaze”, whilst avoiding feminist arguments about women artists or their work, particularly on “motherhood”. In the fourth part, against the limits of the first three, the state of feminist art criticism across the last fifty years is reconsidered by highlighting the plurality of feminisms in transnational, transgenerational and progressive alliances. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Reconsidering the State(s) of Criticism)
Open AccessArticle
Cultural Ecology and Cultural Critique
Arts 2019, 8(4), 166; https://doi.org/10.3390/arts8040166 - 17 Dec 2019
Abstract
In 2015, the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) commissioned John Holden, visiting professor at City University, London, and associate at the think-tank Demos, to write a report on culture as part of its Cultural Value Project. The claim within the report was [...] Read more.
In 2015, the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) commissioned John Holden, visiting professor at City University, London, and associate at the think-tank Demos, to write a report on culture as part of its Cultural Value Project. The claim within the report was to redirect culture away from economic prescriptions and to focus on ecological approaches to ‘value’. Holden considers the application and use of ecological tropes to re-situate culture as ‘non-hierarchical’ and as part of symbiotic social processes. By embracing metaphors of ‘emergence,’ ‘interdependence,’ ‘networks,’ and ‘convergence,’ he suggests we can “gain new understandings about how culture works, and these understandings in turn help with policy information and implementation”. This article addresses the role of ‘cultural critique’ in the live environments and ecologies of place-making. It will consider, with examples, how cultural production, cultural practices, and cultural forms generate mixed ecologies of relations between aesthetic, psychic, economic, political, and ethical materialisms. With reference to a body of situated knowledges, derived from place studies to eco-regionalisms, urban to art criticisms, we will consider ecological thinking as a new mode of cultural critique for initiating arts and cultural policy change. Primarily, the operant concept of ‘environing’ will be considered as the condition of possibility for the space of critique. This includes necessary and strategic actions, where mixed ecologies of cultural activity work against the disciplinary policing of space with new assemblages of distributed power Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Reconsidering the State(s) of Criticism)
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