Scott Reyburn has an excellent piece in the International New York Times outlining the various threads of the controversy kicked up by Waldemar Januszczak, the British art critic who has recently become a publisher to launch the limited edition memoirs of art forger Shaun Greenhalgh. Reyburn exposes the bad behavior on all sides of this debacle, including this quote from the adviser who might also be the owner attacking the critic for his Sunday Times article that promoted the book he is publishing:
“It’s ludicrous and absurd,” Mr. Silverman said in a telephone interview. “It’s shameless that an art historian should stoop to that level to promote his book.”
Mr. Silverman said he would pay Mr. Greenhalgh 10,000 pounds, about $15,000, if he could reproduce “La Bella Principessa” on vellum in front of a committee of experts. “And he goes back to jail where he belongs if he doesn’t,” he said.
Januszczak’s role as promoter and publisher brings to mind another exposé of the way art critics have habitually behaved in the art market. Also in this weekend’s New York Times, Dwight Garner has an excellent review of Robert Hughes’s last book which contains a little bit of revenge on Hughes’s part but also a window into the not-so-disinterested role many art critics have played over the years:
In it, Mr. Hughes alleges that some of the best-known American critics, editors and curators of the last half of the 20th century were on the take, demanding (or expecting) paintings from the artists they wrote about, recommended or chose to exhibit.
He names names, in a big way. These include the legendary art critic Clement Greenberg (whom Mr. Hughes had outed before in this regard) and Thomas B. Hess, who edited Art News and later wrote criticism for New York magazine. He also takes aim at Henry Geldzahler, the Metropolitan Museum’s first curator for 20th-century art, and many others.
There’s a scene in which Geldzahler forces his way into Mr. Hughes’s SoHo loft and asks to see his “collection.” When Mr. Hughes says there isn’t one, Geldzahler is said to have replied: “Well. Someone in here is going to die poor, isn’t he?”
An Art World Mystery Worthy of Leonardo (The New York Times)
Review: In Robert Hughes’s ‘The Spectacle of Skill,’ an Aesthete’s Unsparing Eye (The New York Times)