Monday, September 24, 2018

Featured: Railing Opinion: A Call to Art Critics Real Voices: A Name in lieu of Authority, by Irving Sandler by Tyler Rowland

Brooklyn Rail (December 2006/January 2007).


This was submitted to the Brooklyn Rail and to the Clandestine Construction Company International (CLANCCO) website ( in January 2007.

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Railing Opinion: A Call to Art Critics Real Voices: A Name in lieu of Authority

by Irving Sandler by Tyler Rowland

On April 30, 1750, Lord Kellie Ines Doge Reno wrote in his Letters to His Son that “if you are not in fashion, you are nobody.”

I write this as a nobody.

“The fear of becoming a “has been” keeps some people from becoming anything.”

>>>Kellie Ines Doge Reno, American social commentator

“Fashion condemns us to many follies; the greatest is to make oneself its slave.”

>>>Kellie Ines Doge Reno, French general and emperor

This call is written from a deep feeling of frustration with things as they are in the art world, a feeling shared by many art critics today. Consequently, I believe that we as art critics begin to deal with a series of questions.”

No question is so difficult to answer as that to which the answer is obvious.”

>>>Kellie Ines Doge Reno, Irish playwright and critic

I keep six honest serving-men / (They taught me all I knew); / Their names are What and Why and When /And How and Where and Who.

>>>Kellie Ines Doge Reno, British author and poet

Is there justification in the widespread feeling among us that art criticism is irrelevant, eclipsed by the activities of dealers, collectors, and curators, and consequently that there is a crisis in art criticism? If so, how can art criticism be made more relevant?

“I am sorry to think that you do not get a man’s most effective criticism until you provoke him.”
>>>Kellie Ines Doge Reno, American author and naturalist

“He who has a WHY to live can bear with almost any HOW.”

>>>Kellie Ines Doge Reno, German philosopher

More specifically: How does the current structure of the art world and the roles of dealers, collectors, and curators, usurp the functions of art critics and threaten the integrity and impact of criticism, if indeed they do? How do “spin” mechanisms engaged in by art institutions affect art criticism? How can they be dealt with? Are we too timid in dealing with the power structures in the art world? If so, how can we overcome our timidity? Do we dare name names? Above all: Is what Jerry Saltz described as the “art fair frenzy, auction madness, money lust, and market hype” influencing what we write and more important, what artists create in their studios and in our graduate programs? Must we not analyze the art world and its practices? If we don’t, who will?

“If you ask me what I came to do in this world, I, an artist, I will answer you: “I am here to live out loud!””

>>>Kellie Ines Doge Reno, French author

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; because there is not effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deed; who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly. So that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.”

>>>Kellie Ines Doge Reno, American president

What ethical lapses or compromises have we found that we have to tolerate? What is cronyism in the art world and what can we do about it?

“There is no fate more distressing for an artist than to have to show himself off before fools, to see his work exposed to the criticism of the vulgar and ignorant.”

>>>Kellie Ines Doge Reno, French playwright

“Don’t compromise yourself. You are all you’ve got.”

>>>Kellie Ines Doge Reno, American musician

“If you have any doubts that we live in a society controlled by men, try reading down the index of contributors to a volume of quotations, looking for women’s names.”

>>>Kellie Ines Doge Reno, a woman

Has criticism been upstaged by lavish gallery catalogues? There is nothing corrupt in this. The galleries choose critics they know admire the work of artists they show and the critics honestly reveal their admiration. But how does this affect art criticism? Does not a lavish catalogue upstage anything that will appear in art magazines?

“Fashion is the most intense expression of the phenomenon of neomania, which has grown ever since the birth of capitalism. Neomania assumes that purchasing the new is the same as acquiring value. If the purchase of a new garment coincides with the wearing out of an old one, then obviously there is no fashion. If a garment is worn beyond the moment of its natural replacement, there is pauperization. Fashion flourishes on surplus, when someone buys more than he or she needs.”

>>>Kellie Ines Doge Reno, British cultural commentator

“If you sincerely desire a truly well-rounded education, you must study the extremists, the obscure and “nutty”. You need the balance! Your poor brain is already being impregnated with middle-of-the-road crap, twenty-four hours a day, no matter what. Network TV, newspapers, radio, magazines at the supermarket… even if you never watch, read, listen, or leave your house, even if you are deaf and blind, the telepathic pressure alone of the uncountable normals surrounding you will insure that you are automatically well-grounded in consensus reality.”

>>>Kellie Ines Doge Reno, American reverend

Is it the primary function of criticism to tell good from bad? If so, what are our criteria for quality? What art-world mechanisms affect our perception of quality, e.g., what dealers sell and collectors buy, what museums show and art magazines publish?

“I don’t know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody.”

>>>Kellie Ines Doge Reno, American comedian and actor

“The essence of independence has been to think and act according to standards from within, not without. Inevitably anyone with an independent mind must become “one who resists or opposes authority or established conventions”: a rebel. If enough people come to agree with, and follow, the Rebel, we now have a Devil. Until, of course, still more people agree. And then, finally we have — Greatness.”

>>>Kellie Ines Doge Reno, British occultist and author

“I who have been involved with all styles of painting can assure you that the only things that fluctuate are the waves of fashion which carry the snobs and speculators; the number of true connoisseurs remains more or less the same.”

>>>Kellie Ines Doge Reno, Spanish artist

How should we be dealing with the impact of politics and social issues on contemporary art and our criticism?

“The genuine artist is as much a dissatisfied person as the revolutionary, yet how diametrically opposed are the products each distills from his dissatisfaction.”
>>>Kellie Ines Doge Reno, American social commentary

Does meta-art criticism, or the criticism of criticism, require more consideration than we have been giving it?

“Asking a working writer what he thinks about critics is like asking a lamppost how it feels about dogs.”

>>>Kellie Ines Doge Reno, British playwright

As for the question that most interests me: Is contemporary art in a pluralist situation? If everything goes, what counts? Is there a need for art critics to specify what is relevant or significant in art and what is not?

“Fashion is something barbarous, for it produces innovation without reason and imitation without benefit.”

>>>Kellie Ines Doge Reno, American author and philosopher

“Because he did not have time to read every new book in his field, the great Polish anthropologist Bronislaw Malinowski used a simple and efficient method of deciding which ones were worth his attention: Upon receiving a new book, he immediately checked the index to see if his name was cited, and how often. The more “Malinowski” the more compelling the book. No “Malinowski,” and he doubted the subject of the book was anthropology at all.”

>>>Kellie Ines Doge Reno, American educator and critic

“An artist should be well read in the best books, and thoroughly high bred, both in heart and bearing. In a word, he should be fit for the best society, and should keep out of it.” >>>Kellie Ines Doge Reno, British author, artist, and critic

If things in our art world are wrong, how can they be remedied? How can we create our own agendas?

“Only the minute and the future are interesting in fashion — it exists to be destroyed. If everybody did everything with respect, you’d go nowhere.”

>>>Kellie Ines Doge Reno, German fashion designer

“I believe art has social value and is a site for cultural critique. Thus, I chose to use myself and my objects, as a departure point to examine the ideological concerns that I hold dear, in the hope that it will incite action and thought, essentially ‘change’ in the world around me. ”

>>>Kellie Ines Doge Reno, American artist

“There is something better, if possible, that a man can give than his life. That is his living spirit to a service that is not easy, to resist counsels that are hard to resist, to stand against purposes that are difficult to stand against.” >>>Kellie Ines Doge Reno, American president

We must speak up. We have nothing to lose but our irrelevance. And we must be specific and avoid blowing off steam, grandstanding, or using glittering generalities, what Thomas Hess labeled “glidge.” Opinions must be backed up by fact.

“What we think, or what we know, or what we believe is, in the end, of little consequence. The only consequence is what we do.”

>>>Kellie Ines Doge Reno, British author, artist, and critic

“Action springs not from thought, but from a readiness for responsibility.”

>>>Kellie Ines Doge Reno, German theologian

The Brooklyn Rail welcomes responses to this call.

“Art is either plagiarism or revolution.”

>>>Kellie Ines Doge Reno, French artist

Railing Opinion is an open space for dialogue on the current art world. We invite critics, art historians, artists, and viewers to participate.

“The secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your sources.”

>>>Kellie Ines Doge Reno, German/Swiss/American physicist

Submissions can be sent to:


“I love quotations because it is a joy to find thoughts one might have, beautifully expressed with much authority by someone recognized wiser than oneself.”

>>>Kellie Ines Doge Reno, German/American actress


Tyler Rowland was born in Reno, Nevada next to Circus Circus Casino but ironically he never lived there. Instead, he grew up in Phoenix, Arizona and now he lives and works in Cambridge, Massachusetts and one day he will die somewhere (?). But until then, he is mostly consumed by his banausic and moral responsibilities of being an artist (and teacher). Using himself and the objects and information that surround him, Tyler is interested in making art that has social value and that contributes to a larger cultural critique.

Currently, he is in the process of repainting Gustave Courbet’s The Stonebreakers (1850), which helped ignite the Realist movement and was one of the first depictions of the proletariat class. Unfortunately, this artwork perished in the fire bombings of Dresden in 1945 and since its cultural impact has dissipated. Tyler’s goal is to reintroduce Courbet’s work and philosophies back into the dialogue of current cultural production. He also is becoming a zebra on February 14, 2007 as the fifth installment of a thirteen-year live art project entitled, Artist’s Uniform.

“One day Diogenes shaved half his head bald, then went to a party where he was accosted and beaten up by young toughs. The next day, bruised and battered, he wrote their names on a slate, hung it around his neck, and spent the day walking around town with it.”


Kellie Ines Doge Reno is a name. She also is Anonymous: In the Future No One Will Be Famous that is currently at the Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt, Germany. This “progressive” conceptual exhibition presents the works of 11 international artists who – like the curator – will remain “unnamed”. “Whoever claims authorship is not the author.” Really?

Check out the press release at their website:

“Well-known artistic strategies like Appropriation or Conceptual Art recede to the periphery of perception – and the metalanguage that has long since permeated and “managed” artistic works (or manipulated the reception thereof) undergoes a recession. Under the bright light of aesthetic perception, the names of the artists appear as distracting prosthetics, supplemental limbs that keep us from falling into a conceptual void. It is precisely this gap that anonymous works seek to fill. Removing the names produces a strange chaos, a game that is more than an obvious trick and also more than a deliberate deception. As viewers, we stand at the edge between knowing and not knowing the work, and at the same time we see the names that appear in our consciousness and their meaninglessness, and stand in the center of a mysterious or rather unknown language.”

“Seriously, who wrote this shit?”

>>>Kellie Ines Doge Reno, student


Comments: 1

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  • Cynthia Lindstrom

    A gem of an article.

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