Jerry Saltz’s Interview About “Street Art Throwdown” Is Exactly Why You Should Know And Love Jerry Saltz

ArtNet published an interview with Jerry Saltz, art critic for New York magazine and former judge on the reality TV art competition “Work of Art,” about the newly-premiered Oxygen reality show “Street Art Throwdown.” His responses were predictably hilarious and on-point, because Jerry Saltz is almost always hilarious and on-point. Some highlights:

  • His advice to judges on reality shows: “If you’re pudgy like I am and they ask you to wear something called ‘manx:’ don’t.”

  • On wanting to troll a reality show if he ever gets to judge again: “I think I would try to fuck it up more by publicly telling who the three finalists are before anyone knows. Like in the second week of the season.”

  • On his skepticism about street art’s popularity: “Just as with so-called not street-art, about 99 percent of it is totally look-alike, generic and unoriginal.”

  • On why art reality programming will be successful: “Everyone thinks they belong on stage. In the future everyone will be famous to 15 people.”

There are about five million things that I love about the art world. One of the things I hate about it – hate enough for it to count for a good million — is that most art criticism is completely incomprehensible. If you’ve ever done research about artworks and had to read scholarly works, especially, it is a flat-out drag to get through because scholars write about art in academese. Saltz, on the other hand, doesn’t write in academese because he has no degrees of any kind. He’s living proof that credentials originate mainly in the quality and rigor of your thinking (which can be fine-tuned in higher education, of course, but not always or necessarily). He’s an art critic of the people.

While we’re on the subject of street art, by the way, can I just say that I love it, but I’m over it? Once you have a reality show pitting street artists against each other to win money and commercial success, the form has kind of lost its mystique. As Cait Munro explained, the point has always been that:

“You don’t need thousands of dollars, the approval of an established body, or any kind of ‘jump-start’ in order to create it. Its allure has always rested on the premise that in order to participate, all you need is some paint, a surface, and an idea.”

But hey, the point can change; it’s just that street art will probably change for the worse or at least for the more-boring. Or, as Saltz put it, the more look-alike, generic, and unoriginal.

[ArtNet (1), (2)]

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