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BlogBack: Artist/Administrator on “Next Great Artist” Show (and Saltz&#146s post-mortem)

Arbiters of “Artist”: Jeanne
Greenberg Rohatyn,
Bill Powers, China Chow,
Jerry Saltz

After reading two favorable reviews of the first episode of Bravo‘s “The Next Great Artist” (as well as Christopher Knight‘s unfavorable take), I decided it was possible that my revulsion at the show’s trailer might have been more a function of Bravo’s misguided marketing campaign than of the tenor of the show itself. So I gave the first episode the benefit of the doubt and watched.

I won’t make that mistake again.

I don’t want to waste any more valuable time on Artist Idol than I already have. So aside from remarking that the squirm-worthy, end-of-show put-downs of the three candidates for expulsion were more “snit” than “crit,” I’ll leave the last word to others:

Laurie Fendrich, painter and professor of fine arts at Hofstra University, wrote for the Chronicle of Higher Education that if those involved in the show had the “slightest sense of shame, …they would have run as far and as
fast as possible to get away from this dog of a program.”

And here’s a BlogBack from CultureGrrl reader Kate Bennet, an artist and arts administrator from Golden Valley, MN (sent to me after my preview post, but before the show aired):

Although I agree that this is pretty much a train wreck waiting to
happen, I do take issue with one small phrase in your post. “I take the
roles of artists and art arbiters too seriously to go along with this

This show seems like the televised version of what already happens in
museums, galleries, and juried exhibitions. It seems to seldom be about
the quality of the art, and much more about who you were able to
impress at a party, who has spread your name through word-of-mouth, and
how supposedly avant-garde the art is.

And no, I’m not an embittered artist-failure. I love to create art,
but I have never attempted to get into a show. I see this “artworld”
as just that—a world unto its own where there are rules that must be
followed in order to “become someone.” Too often, pure talent is
overlooked because it didn’t get the approval of the right people, or
wasn’t pushing the limits enough.

Maybe a small part of what makes this televised train wreck so
disgusting (other than all the very good reasons you already pointed
out) is that it is bringing to light that which already exists in
society. Who knows, maybe I will actually learn something about what it
takes to be “The Next Great Artist”.

That is, assuming I were to ever watch.

As to Fendrich’s questioning whether anyone involved in the show has the “slightest sense of shame,” it appears that art critic and “Great Artist” judge Jerry Saltz does: He wrote for today’s online NY Magazine that he intends to “hide the DVD” from his (unidentified) wife, the thoughtful and insightful NY Times art critic Roberta Smith, whom I suspect would rather be caught with shopping-mall art on her walls than as a participant in this artworld embarrassment.

For its next reality show, Bravo ought to turn the premise around, selecting a jury of artists to trash their tormenters—“The Next Great Critic.”

an ArtsJournal blog