Terry Winters, Freeunion (Photo: Matthew Marks Gallery)
Winters was highlighted as one of Carol Diehl’s favorite “overlooked” artists. He’s on my list too.

Over the week since Roberta Smith published her article, Post-Minimal to the Max in the Sunday Times (I wrote about it here) the floodgates opened. Do a search and you will find thousands and thousands of blogs referencing her piece.

The Times chose two letters to publish today:

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Roberta Smith’s powerful article has given me the support that I as a painter desperately need. Reading her article gave me hope that what I have taken on as a personal responsibility for many years still has validity in this universe of big names and entertainment arenas.

People do want to be moved and stirred by new emotions communicated by a canvas.

Thank you, Roberta Smith, for being a true critic.

–Barbara Coleman, New York

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Re “Post-Minimal to the Max” by Roberta Smith [Feb. 14]:

Brava to Roberta Smith. The institutions that are responsible for exposing the public to art are dependent on the minuscule but wealthiest segment of society for support, a fact that has inescapably has reduced art to a reflection of their superficial values — conformity, fashion, wealth, status and power.

Of course the mission of art is to remind a culture of those vulnerable, painful (but essential) truths of human nature that it works relentlessly to suppress. Only individuals, struggling on their own idiosyncratic journey to make peace with the invariable inner conflicts of their own humanity and find personal meaning in their lives, can serve that mission. As a result they will most likely find they are not happily welcomed in the world of pomp and power.

–Bruce Morse, Sharon CT

And here are a few selections from thoughtful bloggers:

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What gives the article its call-to-reason tone is the nature of the moment from which Smith is attempting to right our ship. Her argument is reminiscent of one recently put forth by the White House, attributing the success of Fox News to the simple fact that it is selling the clearest narrative for people to follow. So too in the Art world do we want clarity, and the more others are following something, the less likely will it be a waste of our time to do the same; at least we will have something to say when it comes up in conversation. Here Smith’s article rightly reminds us that the aim of the Arts was never for all of us perceive the same reality. We look for alternative ways of looking, or at least that’s why I got into this racket.

If, as Don Draper says, Happiness is a billboard on the side of the road that screams with reassurance that ‘Whatever you’re doing is OK,’ then surely nothing is more annoying than a Times critic who cries for a return to common sense. It is a risky position to take, as such a plea can easily make people feel judged for the fun they are having. To me it sounds like good advice though, for those in the Art world looking to move past the values inherited during the last decade’s proximity to the market.

Ben Wadler
Artcards Review

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The artists Smith would choose to feature are not necessarily those that populate my curatorial fantasies (for instance I’d start with Terry Winters, who has not yet had a solo museum exhibition in New York*) but not to quibble. Smith sums it up when she says, “What’s missing is art that seems made by one person out of intense personal necessity, often by hand.”

Certain readers will take this as meaning that Smith is angling for a return to AbEx or somesuch, but I’ll interpret it my way. Readers of this blog know that I admire the work of Olafur Eliasson, who works with a team of collaborators and rarely executes anything himself, yet the aura of “intense personal necessity” surrounds everything he produces. It is also very highly developed. On the other hand, given how much art one sees that seems only half-realized, it’s important to recognize that process itself—the struggle to execute—can be an important path to new ideas. The stubborn development of technique (and by this I mean not facility, but the ideal vehicle for the concept) can provide the time required to take the art where it needs to go.

Carol Diehl
Carol Diehl’s Art Vent

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