It’s not surprising that art critics want to add social criticism to their brief. But it would help if the now rote habit toward railing against the wealthy were balanced with some small dose of history and reality. Art museums are a founded by the wealthy to satisfy their own social and cultural ambitions. It’s a fairly well documented and complex history with good and bad on both sides. The interplay between art and social class is interesting and important. Art critics should definitely discuss it.
Instead of nuanced analysis or insight, we get fantastic yawps like this paragraph in Holland Cotter’s review of the new Whitney museum.
Remember to read this in the context of the former location on Madison Avenue—in the heart of the notoriously diverse Upper East Side—just steps away from Gagosian, Acquavella, Skarstedt and other major dealers:
Reasons for choosing Chelsea as a destination are clear, too, but slipperier. At a time when art is literally as good as gold, the museum has, cannily it would seem, anchored itself in the mercantile center of things, in a prime gallery neighborhood that is the precise opposite of being an artist neighborhood. Economically, Chelsea is a gated community: Artists can visit but must live elsewhere. What will the Whitney do with that? Whose friend will it be? Market or artist? It cannot be true friend to both.