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The Art Critic

by Suzi Gablik (© 2001)

As an art critic, I have never been interested in writing reviews or catalogue essays. What has interested me is understanding the nature of our cultural myths and how they evolve. What stories do we tell ourselves at this critical juncture in human history about what art is and what it can do?

There is an entrenched institutional framework we tend to take for granted in our culture, without realizing how subtly and lethally it influences and determines our lives. Within this framework, art has been defined as static objects existing mostly in museums and galleries, segregated from ordinary life and action. The values of the "art world" tend to reflect the values of the culture at large: product orientation, individual competitiveness, winners and losers in the success game, and value-free aesthetics (or "art-for-art's sake").

Within this framework, art is not viewed as a potentially supportive tool that can actually help others to improve their lives. By and large, since our culture still operates from the model of the artist as a lone genius with a disembodied eye, issues of social responsibility and concern for the health of the global environment have not been a significant part of the story we have been telling ourselves about how we should function in the world as artists.

Yet there are many artists today who challenge this separation of art and life, mind and body, and who have moved beyond the culture's emphasis on external achievement, money, and position to pursue instead a more spiritual connection that inspires and heals. This quantum leap in our understanding of what art is, representing crucial motivational and attitudinal changes within the artist, has been the basic subject matter of my books.

The artists represented here are prototypes who embody the next historical and evolutionary stage of consciousness, in which the capacity to be compassionate and socially concerned will be central not only to our ideals of success, but also to the recovery of both a meaningful society and a meaningful art.

Suzi Gablik is an art critic, artist and teacher. She is well known for her passionate and sometimes controversial writings on modern art. Her influential books include The Reenchantment of Art and Conversations Before the End of Time.

© 2010