Jerry Saltz Quotes

- Notable Jerry Saltz Quotes Index -

Born: March 19, 1951, Oak Park, Illinois, USA
Birth Country: USA
Occupation: Art critic

1.
'Summer of Love: Art of the Psychedelic Era,' the Whitney Museum's 40th-anniversary trip down counterculture memory lane, provides moments of buzzy fun, but it'll leave you only comfortably numb. For starters, it may be the whitest, straightest, most conservative show seen in a New York museum since psychedelia was new.
- Jerry Saltz

2.
'The Panorama' is also the last place anywhere in New York where the World Trade Center still stands, whole, as it stood in the early morning of September 11. I can also see the corner where I saw the first tower fall and howled out loud. Seeing the buildings again here is uplifting, healing.
- Jerry Saltz

3.
'Untitled' is a time machine that can transport you to 1992, an edgy moment when the art world was crumbling, money was scarce, and artists like Tiravanija were in the nascent stages of combining Happenings, performance art, John Cage, Joseph Beuys, and the do-it-yourself ethos of punk. Meanwhile, a new art world was coming into being.
- Jerry Saltz

4.
A canon is antithetical to everything the New York art world has been about for the past 40 years, during which we went from being the center of the art world to being one of many centers.
- Jerry Saltz

5.
A metaphysical tour de force of untethered meaning and involuting interlocking contrapuntal rhythms, 'The Clock' is more than a movie or even a work of art. It is so strange and other-ish that it becomes a stream-of-consciousness algorithm unto itself - something almost inhuman.
- Jerry Saltz

6.
A saboteur in the house of art and a comedienne in the house of art theory, Lawler has spent three decades documenting the secret life of art. Functioning as a kind of one-woman CSI unit, she has photographed pictures and objects in collectors' homes, in galleries, on the walls of auction houses, and off the walls, in museum storage.
- Jerry Saltz

7.
A sad fact of life lately at the Museum of Modern Art is that when it comes to group shows of contemporary painting from the collection, the bar has been set pretty low.
- Jerry Saltz

8.
Abstract Expressionism - the first American movement to have a worldwide influence - was remarkably short-lived: It heated up after World War II and was all but done for by 1960 (although visit any art school today and you'll find a would-be Willem de Kooning).
- Jerry Saltz

9.
Abstraction brings the world into more complex, variable relations it can extract beauty, alternative topographies, ugliness, and intense actualities from seeming nothingness.
- Jerry Saltz

10.
After its hothouse incubation in the seventies, appropriation breathed important new life into art. This life flowered spectacularly over the decades - even if it's now close to aesthetic kudzu.
- Jerry Saltz

11.
All art comes from other art, and all immigrants come from other places.
- Jerry Saltz

12.
All of Koons's best art - the encased vacuum cleaners, the stainless-steel Rabbit (the late-twentieth century's signature work of Simulationist sculpture), the amazing gleaming Balloon Dog, and the cast-iron re-creation of a Civil War mortar exhibited last month at the Armory - has simultaneously flaunted extreme realism, idealism, and fantasy.
- Jerry Saltz

13.
Almost all institutions own a lot more art than they can ever show, much of it revealing for its timeliness, genius, or sheer weirdness.
- Jerry Saltz

14.
Anyone who relishes art should love the extraordinary diversity and psychic magic of our art galleries. There's likely more combined square footage for the showing of art on one New York block - West 24th Street between Tenth and Eleventh Avenues - than in all of Amsterdam's or Hamburg's galleries.
- Jerry Saltz

15.
Appropriation is the idea that ate the art world. Go to any Chelsea gallery or international biennial and you'll find it. It's there in paintings of photographs, photographs of advertising, sculpture with ready-made objects, videos using already-existing film.
- Jerry Saltz

16.
Art is changing. Again. Here. Now. Opportunities to witness this are rare, so attend and observe.
- Jerry Saltz

17.
Art is for anyone. It just isn't for everyone. Still, over the past decade, its audience has hugely grown, and that's irked those outside the art world, who get irritated at things like incomprehensibility or money.
- Jerry Saltz

18.
Art is good, bad, boring, ugly, useful to us or not.
- Jerry Saltz

19.
Art usually only makes the news in America when the subject is money.
- Jerry Saltz

20.
Artistic qualities that once seemed undeniable don't seem so now. Sometimes these fluctuations are only fickleness of taste, momentary glitches in an artist's work, or an artist getting ahead of his audience (it took me ten years to catch up to Albert Oehlen). Other times, however, these problems mean there's something wrong with the art.
- Jerry Saltz

21.
Artists working for other artists is all about knowing, learning, unlearning, initiating long-term artistic dialogues, making connections, creating covens, and getting temporary shelter from the storm.
- Jerry Saltz

22.
Artschwager's art always involves looking closely at surfaces, questions what an object is, wants to make you forget the name of the thing you're looking at so that it might mushroom in your mind into something that triggers unexpected infinities.
- Jerry Saltz

23.
Auction houses run a rigged game. They know exactly how many people will be bidding on a work and exactly who they are. In a gallery, works of art need only one person who wants to pay for them.
- Jerry Saltz

24.
Can space break? I mean the space of art galleries. Over the past 100 years, art galleries have gone from looking like Beaux Arts salons to simple storefronts to industrial lofts to the gleaming giant white cubes of Chelsea with their shiny concrete floors.
- Jerry Saltz

25.
Contrary to popular opinion, things don't go stale particularly fast in the art world.
- Jerry Saltz

26.
Damien Hirst is the Elvis of the English art world, its ayatollah, deliverer, and big-thinking entrepreneurial potty-mouthed prophet and front man. Hirst synthesizes punk, Pop Art, Jeff Koons, Marcel Duchamp, Francis Bacon, and Catholicism.
- Jerry Saltz

27.
Early-twentieth-century abstraction is art's version of Einstein's Theory of Relativity. It's the idea that changed everything everywhere: quickly, decisively, for good.
- Jerry Saltz

28.
Elizabeth Peyton, the artist known for tiny, dazzling portraits of radiant youth, is now painting tiny, dazzling portraits of radiant middle age.
- Jerry Saltz

29.
Everyone goes to the same exhibitions and the same parties, stays in the same handful of hotels, eats at the same no-star restaurants, and has almost the same opinions. I adore the art world, but this is copycat behavior in a sphere that prides itself on independent thinking.
- Jerry Saltz

30.
First let me report that the art in the Barnes Collection has never looked better. My trips to the old Barnes were always amazing, but except on the sunniest days, you could barely see the art. The building always felt pushed beyond its capacity.
- Jerry Saltz

31.
Galleries began growing in both number and size in the late seventies, when artists who worked in lofts wanted to exhibit their work in spaces similar to the ones the art was made in.
- Jerry Saltz

32.
I also take pleasure in the so-called negative power in Grotjahn's work. That is, I love his paintings for what they are not. Unlike much art of the past decade, Grotjahn isn't simply working from a prescribed checklist of academically acceptable, curator-approved 'isms' and twists.
- Jerry Saltz

33.
I don't know much about auctions. I sometimes go to previews and see art sardined into ugly rooms. I've gawked at the gaudy prices, and gaped at well-clad crowds of happy white people conspicuously spending hundreds of millions of dollars.
- Jerry Saltz

34.
I hate art auctions.
- Jerry Saltz

35.
I have a soft spot for art that, in terms of subject matter and material, is in bad taste.
- Jerry Saltz

36.
I like that the art world isn't regulated.
- Jerry Saltz

37.
I love art dealers. In some ways, they're my favorite people in the art world. Really. I love that they put their money where their taste is, create their own aesthetic universes, support artists, employ people, and do all of this while letting us see art for free. Many are visionaries.
- Jerry Saltz

38.
I love Rauschenberg. I love that he created a turning point in visual history, that he redefined the idea of beauty, that he combined painting, sculpture, photography, and everyday life with such gall, and that he was interested in, as he put it, 'the ability to conceive failure as progress.'
- Jerry Saltz

39.
I often find myself privately stewing about much British art, thinking that except for their tremendous gardens, that the English are not primarily visual artists, and are, in nearly unsurpassable ways, literary.
- Jerry Saltz

40.
I see 30 to 40 gallery shows a week, and no matter what kind of mood I'm in, no matter how bad the art is, I almost always feel better afterward. I can learn as much from bad art as from good.
- Jerry Saltz

41.
I'm noticing a new approach to art making in recent museum and gallery shows. It flickered into focus at the New Museum's 'Younger Than Jesus' last year and ran through the Whitney Biennial, and I'm seeing it blossom and bear fruit at 'Greater New York,' MoMA P.S. 1's twice-a-decade extravaganza of emerging local talent.
- Jerry Saltz

42.
I've always said that an art critic can put aside politics around art.
- Jerry Saltz

43.
If only we could persuade galleries to observe a fallow period in which, for two months every other year, new and old works of art could be sold in back rooms and all main galleries would be devoted to revisiting shows gone by.
- Jerry Saltz

44.
If the Frieze Art Fair catches on, I imagine at least two great things happening. First, we will once again have a huge art fair in town that isn't too annoying to go to. More importantly, Frieze may finally show New Yorkers that we can cross our own waters for visual culture. That would change everything.
- Jerry Saltz

45.
Imagine it's 1981. You're an artist, in love with art, smitten with art history. You're also a woman, with almost no mentors to look to art history just isn't that into you. Any woman approaching art history in the early eighties was attempting to enter an almost foreign country, a restricted and exclusionary domain that spoke a private language.
- Jerry Saltz

46.
In 1998, Artnet was the site that convinced me that if my writing didn't exist online, it didn't exist at all. It showed me criticism's future.
- Jerry Saltz

47.
In art, scandal is a false narrative, a smoke screen that camouflages rather than reveals. When we don't know what we're seeing, we overreact.
- Jerry Saltz

48.
In the seventies, a group of American artists seized the means not of production but of reproduction. They tore apart visual culture at a time of no money, no market, and no one paying attention except other artists. Vietnam and Watergate had happened everything in America was being questioned.
- Jerry Saltz

49.
It is not possible to overstate the influence of Paul Cezanne on twentieth-century art. He's the modern Giotto, someone who shattered one kind of picture-making and invented a new one that the world followed.
- Jerry Saltz

50.
It took me twenty years to get Steven Parrino's work. From the time I first saw his art, in the mid-eighties, I almost always dismissed it as mannered, Romantic, formulaic, conceptualist-formalist heavy-metal boy-art abstraction.
- Jerry Saltz

51.
It took the Metropolitan Museum of Art nearly 50 years to wake up to Pablo Picasso. It didn't own one of his paintings until 1946, when Gertrude Stein bequeathed that indomitable quasi-Cubistic picture of herself - a portrait of the writer as a sumo Buddha - to the Met, principally because she disliked the Museum of Modern Art.
- Jerry Saltz

52.
It's art that pushes against psychological and social expectations, that tries to transform decay into something generative, that is replicative in a baroque way, that isn't about progress, and wants to - as Walt Whitman put it - 'contain multitudes.'
- Jerry Saltz

53.
It's great that New York has large spaces for art. But the enormous immaculate box has become a dated, even oppressive place. Many of these spaces were designed for sprawling installations, large paintings, and the Relational Aesthetics work of the past fifteen years.
- Jerry Saltz

54.
Jeffrey Deitch is the Jeff Koons of art dealers. Not because he's the biggest, best, or the richest of his kind. But because in some ways he's the weirdest (which is saying a lot when you're talking about the wonderful, wicked, lovable, and annoying creatures known as art dealers).
- Jerry Saltz

55.
John Currin's exaggerated realism and his twisted women kept me off balance, never knowing if they were sincere or ironic or some new emotion.
- Jerry Saltz

56.
Just as Pollock used the drip to meld process and product, Richter 'found' and used the smudge and the blur to ravish the eye, creating works of psychic and physical power.
- Jerry Saltz

57.
Kinkade estimated that one of his paintings hung in every twenty homes in America. Yet the art world unanimously ignores or reviles him. Me included.
- Jerry Saltz

58.
Kinkade's paintings are worthless schmaltz, and the lamestream media that love him are wrong. However, I'd love to see a museum mount a small show of Kinkade's work. I would like the art world and the wider world to argue about him in public, out in the open.
- Jerry Saltz

59.
Many art-worlders have an if-you-say-so approach to art: Everyone is so scared of missing out on the next hot artist that it's never clear whether people are liking work because they like it or because other people do. Everyone is keeping up with the Joneses, and there are more Joneses than ever.
- Jerry Saltz

60.
Many museums are drawing audiences with art that is ostensibly more entertaining than stuff that just sits and invites contemplation. Interactivity, gizmos, eating, hanging out, things that make noise - all are now the norm, often edging out much else.
- Jerry Saltz

61.
Many say an art dealer running a museum is a 'conflict of interest.' But maybe the art world has lived an artificial or unintentional lie all of these years when it comes to conflicts of interest.
- Jerry Saltz

62.
Megacollectors suppose they can enter art history by spending astronomical amounts.
- Jerry Saltz

63.
Mission accomplished. The Museum of Modern Art's wide-open, tall-ceilinged, super-reinforced second floor was for all intents and purposes built to accommodate monumental installations and gigantic sculptures, should the need arise. It has arisen.
- Jerry Saltz

64.
Money is something that can be measured art is not. It's all subjective.
- Jerry Saltz

65.
Much good art got made while money ruled I like a lot of it, and hardship and poverty aren't virtues. The good news is that, since almost no one will be selling art, artists - especially emerging ones - won't have to think about turning out a consistent style or creating a brand. They'll be able to experiment as much as they want.
- Jerry Saltz

66.
My culture-deprived, aspirational mother dragged me once a month from our northern suburb - where the word art never came up - to the Art Institute of Chicago. I hated it.
- Jerry Saltz

67.
My nominee for Best Picture of the year - maybe the best picture ever, because it's essentially made up of and is an ecstatic love letter to all other movies - is Christian Marclay's endlessly enticing must-see masterpiece 'The Clock.'
- Jerry Saltz

68.
Not to say people shouldn't get rich from art. I adore the alchemy wherein artists who cast a complex spell make rich people give them their money. (Just writing it makes me cackle.) But too many artists have been making money without magic.
- Jerry Saltz

69.
Now people look at 'The Scream' or Van Gogh's 'Irises' or a Picasso and see its new content: money. Auction houses inherently equate capital with value.
- Jerry Saltz

70.
Of course art world ethics are important. But museums are no purer than any other institution or business. Academics aren't necessarily more high-minded than gallerists.
- Jerry Saltz

71.
One argument goes that recessions are good for female artists because when money flies out the window, women are allowed in the house. The other claims that when money ebbs, so do prospects for women.
- Jerry Saltz

72.
Our culture now wonderfully, alchemically transforms images and history into artistic material. The possibilities seem endless and wide open.
- Jerry Saltz

73.
Outside museums, in noisy public squares, people look at people. Inside museums, we leave that realm and enter what might be called the group-mind, getting quiet to look at art.
- Jerry Saltz

74.
Poor Georgia O'Keeffe. Death didn't soften the opinions of the art world toward her paintings.
- Jerry Saltz

75.
Probably only an art-worlder like me could assign deeper meaning to something as simple and silly as Tebowing. But, to us, anytime people repeat a stance or a little dance, alone or together, we see that it can mean something. Imagistic and unspoken language is our thing.
- Jerry Saltz

76.
Recessions are hard on people, but they are not hard on art.
- Jerry Saltz

77.
Robert Rauschenberg was not a giant of American art he was the giant. No American created so many aesthetic openings for so many artists.
- Jerry Saltz

78.
Rumors sound of galleries asking artists for upsized art and more of it. I've heard of photographers asked to print larger to increase the wall power and salability of their work. Everything winds up set to maximum in order to feed the beast.
- Jerry Saltz

79.
Summer is a great time to visit art museums, which offer the refreshing rinse of swimming pools - only instead of cool water, you immerse yourself in art.
- Jerry Saltz

80.
The alchemy of good curating amounts to this: Sometimes, placing one work of art near another makes one plus one equal three. Two artworks arranged alchemically leave each intact, transform both, and create a third thing.
- Jerry Saltz

81.
The art gods cooked up something special for James Ensor.
- Jerry Saltz

82.
The art world is an all-volunteer force. No one has to be here if he or she doesn't want to be, and we should be associating with anyone we want to.
- Jerry Saltz

83.
The art world is molting - some would say melting. Galleries are closing museums are scaling back.
- Jerry Saltz

84.
The forties, seventies, and the nineties, when money was scarce, were great periods, when the art world retracted but it was also reborn.
- Jerry Saltz

85.
The giant white cube is now impeding rather than enhancing the rhythms of art. It preprograms a viewer's journey, shifts the emphasis from process to product, and lacks individuality and openness. It's not that art should be seen only in rutty bombed-out environments, but it should seem alive.
- Jerry Saltz

86.
The greatest work of art about New York? The question seems nebulous. The city's magic and majesty are distilled in the photographs of Alfred Stieglitz and Paul Strand.
- Jerry Saltz

87.
The last time money left the art world, intrepid types maxed out their credit cards and opened galleries, and a few of them have become the best in the world.
- Jerry Saltz

88.
The Met is not only the finest encyclopedic museum of art in the United States it is arguably the finest anywhere.
- Jerry Saltz

89.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art is unsurpassed at presenting more than 50 centuries of work. I go there constantly, seeing things over and over, better than I've ever seen them before.
- Jerry Saltz

90.
The New York art world readily proves people wrong. Just when folks say that things stink and flibbertigibbet critics wish the worst on us all because we're not pure enough, good omens appear.
- Jerry Saltz

91.
The price of a work of art has nothing to do with what the work of art is, can do, or is worth on an existential, alchemical level.
- Jerry Saltz

92.
The reason the art world doesn't respond to Kinkade is because none - not one - of his ideas about subject-matter, surface, color, composition, touch, scale, form, or skill is remotely original. They're all cliche and already told.
- Jerry Saltz

93.
The secret of food lies in memory - of thinking and then knowing what the taste of cinnamon or steak is.
- Jerry Saltz

94.
The style of ancient Egyptian art is transcendently clear, something 8-year-olds can recognize in an instant. Its consistency and codification is one of the most epic visual journeys in all art, one that lasts 30 dynasties spread over 3,000 years.
- Jerry Saltz

95.
There's one Baldessari work I genuinely love and would like to own, maybe because of my Midwestern roots and love of driving alone. 'The backs of all the trucks passed while driving from Los Angeles to Santa Barbara, California, Sunday, 20 January 1963' consists of a grid of 32 small color photographs depicting just what the title says.
- Jerry Saltz

96.
There's something pleasing about large, well-lit spaces. I love that dealers are willing to take massive chances in order to give this much room to their artists. Most of all, I love that more galleries showing more art gives more artists a shot.
- Jerry Saltz

97.
These days, newish art can be priced between $10,000 and $25,000. When I tell artists that a new painting by a newish artist should go for around $1,200, they look at me like I'm a flesh-eating virus.
- Jerry Saltz

98.
Those who love him love that he sells the most art they take it as a point of faith that this proves Kinkade is the best. But his fans don't only rely on this supply-and-demand justification. They go back to values.
- Jerry Saltz

99.
To engage with art, we have to be willing to be wrong, venture outside our psychic comfort zones, suspend disbelief, and remember that art explores and alters consciousness simultaneously.
- Jerry Saltz

100.
To me, nothing in the art world is neutral. The idea of 'disinterest' strikes me as boring, dishonest, dubious, and uninteresting.
- Jerry Saltz

101.
Too many younger artists, critics, and curators are fetishizing the sixties, transforming the period into a deformed cult, a fantasy religion, a hip brand, and a crippling disease.
- Jerry Saltz

102.
Urs Fischer specializes in making jaws drop. Cutting giant holes in gallery walls, digging a crater in Gavin Brown's gallery floor in 2007, creating amazing hyperrealist wallpaper for a group show at Tony Shafrazi: It all percolates with uncanny destructiveness, operatic uncontrollability, and barbaric sculptural power.
- Jerry Saltz

103.
Venice is the perfect place for a phase of art to die. No other city on earth embraces entropy quite like this magical floating mall.
- Jerry Saltz

104.
We're all entitled to opinions about how art institutions should behave, and entitled to voicing those opinions through whatever means available to us. We're also allowed to change or modify our opinions.
- Jerry Saltz

105.
When art wins, everyone wins.
- Jerry Saltz

106.
When money and hype recede from the art world, one thing I won't miss will be what curator Francesco Bonami calls the 'Eventocracy.' All this flashy 'art-fair art' and those highly produced space-eating spectacles and installations wow you for a minute until you move on to the next adrenaline event.
- Jerry Saltz

107.
When museums are built these days, architects, directors, and trustees seem most concerned about social space: places to have parties, eat dinner, wine-and-dine donors. Sure, these are important these days - museums have to bring in money - but they gobble up space and push the art itself far away from the entrance.
- Jerry Saltz

108.
When people in stadiums do the Wave, it's the group-mind collective organism spontaneously organizing itself to express an emotion, pass time, and reflect the joy of seeing the rhythms of many as one, a visual rhyming or music in which everyone senses where the motion is going.
- Jerry Saltz

109.
While a large segment of the art world has obsessed over a tiny number of stars and their prices, an aesthetic shift has been occurring. It's not a movement - movements are more sure of themselves. It's a change of mood or expectation, a desire for art to be more than showy effects, big numbers, and gamesmanship.
- Jerry Saltz

110.
Willem de Kooning is generally credited for coming out of the painterly gates strong in the forties, revolutionizing art and abstraction and reaching incredible heights by the early fifties, and then tailing off.
- Jerry Saltz

111.
Wolfgang Tillman's stunning large-scale pictures, being shown for the first time, were so offhand I failed to see them as art.
- Jerry Saltz

112.
Works of art often last forever, or nearly so. But exhibitions themselves, especially gallery exhibitions, are like flowers they bloom and then they die, then exist only as memories, or pressed in magazines and books.
- Jerry Saltz

113.
Yes, 85 percent of the art you see isn't any good. But everyone has a different opinion about which 85 percent is bad. That in turn creates fantastically unstable interplay and argument.
- Jerry Saltz

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