Storr: "I’m not sure that art and theory were ever that
close to begin with. There are some artists who read theory seriously
but not all that many. And some of the theoretical writing that was
done about artists was very important, but what people now call theory
is a vast field and a relatively small amount of it bears directly on
art, or at least on art production.We’re in a
very strange situation where some artists have derived a lot from their
theoretical reading but never as systematically as people are inclined
to think. Felix Gonzalez-Torres, who I know read theory carefully,
nonetheless made a point of saying that it was not to be read in a kind
of rigorous, academic way, but to help unblock thoughts and open up
questions.A lot of artists don’t want to tip
their hands and show how selective and shallow their understanding is;
a lot of people who do theory full time don’t really want to
acknowledge that the process of making art is fundamentally different
from the process of writing theory. And, therefore, even though you may
share a vocabulary, you don’t share at all the same kind of generative
process or goals."
The whole interview is full of his insights about "theory" in relationship to making art, american culture, historical significance, etc…
Ed Winkleman has since posted about this with an interesting twist. What I understood to be Storr asserting a nuetral fact about the difference between making theory and making art, Winkleman interpreted to imply that artists cannot be good at both (which Ed takes issue with).
As this conversation usually develops, commentors start *implying* that artists SHOULD BE engaged with theory. I disagree with this. Read his comments for another excellent conversation. Winkleman clarifies his position in the comments section nicely … but I am still bothered by the implications.