Jerry Saltz plays Joseph Welch to Tyler Green on NY Mag’s Culture Vulture blog this week. The post provoked an unusually fawning response from Green but not a yielding one. Here’s Saltz expressing his frustration at Green’s Manichean complaints about the Joannou show at the New Museum:
One of the main things that suggested all this indignation had gone too far was the witch-hunt tone of an editorial in the November issue of the Art Newspaper. The language in the piece — written by art blogger Tyler Green and published at the end of last week — was scolding, scornful, condescending, and smug, tinged with a verbal violence that was a little scary. The editorial begins with the false charge that private collector exhibitions are “fluff shows.” Green sniffs that he’s “especially disappointed” in the New Museum, and finishes by beseeching all museums to “cancel” exhibitions of private collections. He demands that the Association of Art Museums “ban” these shows because they are “an insult” to the art world. When I hear a word like “ban,” I reach for my dictionary and review the definition of the word democracy.
This kind of apparatchik rule-making feels off to me. Green has gotten into the habit of demanding that people be fired, reprimanded, or punished, as if only he knows right from wrong. He played a role in getting Grace Gluck fired from the Times for her “conflict of interest.” After Village Voice art critic Christian Viveros-Faune talked about his dual roles as a critic and an employee of an art fair, Green accused him of indulging “a textbook case of unethical conflict-of-interest” that struck “at the very heart of … integrity” and “flouted journalistic norms.” Green sneered that he was “troubled” by this behavior and publicly asked the Voice to “stop publishing” Viveros-Faune. Guess what? That’s exactly what happened. The Voice and the art world lost a tremendous voice.
Last year, after The New Yorker critic Peter Schjeldahl and I spoke at an Obama event hosted at the Mitchell-Innes & Nash Gallery, Green blogged that we were wrong for “participating in a political event with someone [we’re] charged with covering.” He said our “ethics should be guided by the rules of the journalism world, not the flimsy, who’s-your-buddy ethic of the art world.” “This is not quite Christian Viveros-Faune … territory,” he concluded, but warned that “journalists should not be partnering with people they’re supposed to be covering.” I wanted to let him know that I was scheduled to speak at another gallery — this time for a breast-cancer event.