Robert Hughes on toast

by Rainey Knudson April 13, 2010

I recently asked a curator what she thought of the contemporary art world. She looked at me blankly. I pressed: you know what I mean, it’s headed in the wrong direction, the money is ruining everything and there’s mostly bad art being made. She calmly observed that she thought the art world was fine and that there’s plenty of good art out there.

Without knowing it, I was parroting the view of legendary art critic Robert Hughes. I recently watched his documentary “The Mona Lisa Curse” (you can see it in 12 parts on here on YouTube). It’s worth watching the whole thing. In a nutshell, Hughes misses the good old days when art meant something and the market wasn’t running the show. He dislikes Warhol and his artistic progeny, Koons and Hirst. He dislikes mega-collectors. He dislikes art consultants. He dislikes rapacious museum directors who give fashion designers shows. He keeps showing a picture of himself smiling with Robert Rauschenberg in the good old days.

But as compelling as Hughes is–and he is very compelling–something doesn’t sit quite right with his tirade. wrote this excellent rebuttal about why Hughes’ nostalgia is bunk.

I don’t know why we humans tend to pine for a mythic past that never existed. But here’s something on topic (in politics, not art) from The Daily Show:


Even Better Than the Real Thing
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