The Art Critic, by Sandy Huffaker
Inspired by his viewing of Project Runway and Make Me a Supermodel — I would say “brain-deadened” by them, but I’ve barely seen any reality TV, so upholding the finest traditions of criticism, I’ll silently pretend I know what I’m talking about — arts editor Jeff Weinstein (who blogs for Artsjournal as Out There) has a delightful programming suggestion for PBS — or as he calls it, “the gouty network.”
Because Jeff has to explain how the would-be supermodels’ visit to the Metropolitan Museum of Art (“I’ve never been here before!”) prompted his sudden moment of genius, I’ll cut to the pitch:
Scour the nation for 10 fresh, aspiring, small-town talents who have dreamed about the glamour, recognition, wealth, and lobster-filled summer junkets that make a career as a famous art critic the most gratifying goal anyone might imagine. Set them up in underheated apartments at least two bus and/or subway connections from New York’s Chelsea, epicenter of the international art world.
Provide meals for five days a week and see if they can cadge the rest at openings or parties.
It should be fun. Throw the kids out each week to see a few shows, and have them come back with their best short, medium, and full-length reviews. Have them face a gantlet of bloodless editors at, say, Art in America. Have them negotiate with gallery bigwigs about that ethically delicate but lucrative catalog.
And the panel of judges? Perhaps in this case a mix: of distinguished artists, critics, and dealers. To start, how about Julian Schnabel (now that he needs movie critics, not art ones, he can be objective), Robert Hughes (cameras make him look better, not worse), and Leo Castelli (he’s dead, but that won’t matter). And for the first guest expert, who can better ascertain the true value of art and the importance of criticism than Sotheby’s soigné auctioneer, Mr. “Rockefeller Rothko” himself, Tobias Meyer?
Yes, they’re all males, males of a certain color, but this is the art world.
And, how appropriate, one of the males is even dead.
I’d definitely watch this show. So far, one comment has offered a wise improvement: Let’s be realistic, the number of meals should be cut down to three days a week. This will add just that soupcon of hunger, fatigue and desperation every critic lives for.