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ask an art critic

Judge Jerry: Ask Saltz Anything

A sculpture of Jerry Saltz by Work of Art winner Abdi Farah.

In this week's issue of New York, Jerry Saltz writes about how his appearance as a judge on Bravo's reality show Work of Art changed him as a critic. After addressing the "schizophrenic" reaction within the art world — many blasted Saltz as a sellout, while others jumped at the chance to appear on the show — he concludes that Work of Art changed the way he thinks about his job:


Over the ten weeks it aired, hundreds of strangers stopped me on the street to talk about it. In the middle of nowhere, I’d be having passionate discussions about art with laypeople. It happened in the hundreds, then thousands of comments that appeared below the recaps I wrote for nymag.com. Many of these came from people who said they’d never written about art before. Most were as articulate as any critic. I responded frequently, admitted when I was wrong, and asked others to expand on ideas. By the show’s end, over a quarter-million words had been generated. In my last recap I wrote, “An accidental art criticism sprang up … Together we were crumbs and butter of a mysterious madeleine. The delivery mechanism had turned itself inside out.” Instead of one voice speaking to the many, there were many voices speaking to me — and one another. Coherently. I now understand that, like us, criticism contains multitudes.

Work of Art is over (for now), but Saltz will continue his experiment in public criticism with a new column for nymag.com called Ask an Art Critic. Have a question about art, art careers, art dealers, art prices, why critics write about artists, how critics are edited, what makes a good dealer, a bad dealer, how to get back at snarky critics, how to behave around critics, what’s up with reality TV, or what makes a curator good, bad, or worse? Ask Saltz anything, and in return expect: tough love, his two cents, advice, admonitions, suggestions, information, misinformation, good guesses, opinions, warnings, and more to get irked about. Send questions to ArtCritic@nymag.com. Keep them clear, simple, and preferably short (75 words or less). All selected questions will be subject to editing. Signed questions are preferable, but all will be considered. Go ahead. Take your best shot. Ask an art critic.

Related: Judge Jerry [NYM]