Viewing page 2 of 58
It looks like you're using a mobile device. We recommend using a physical keyboard for transcription entry.
[written] This letter cut to 441 words, (or Paragraphs 1-2-5 only) to be short enough for acceptance in a newspaper. This is one reason why the letter was cut. [typed] To the Editor of the New York Herald Tribune: [margin- Par. 1] A critic of art is customarily assumed to be honest, regardless of whether we agree or disagree with what he or she says. It is taken for granted that he judges works of art on their intrinsic merits and not on extraneous or accidental factors. [margin- Par. 2] Miss Emily Genauer's review in your pages, on January 7th, of the memorial show of Arshile Gorky's paintings and drawings at the Whitney Museum provides cause to doubt her honesty in precisely this respect. As far as one can see, she deduces the largest part of her opinion of Gorky's art, not from the work itself, but from her opinion of his admirers, upon whose good faith she casts entirely unsupported aspersions. (Her only other specific objection to Gorky's art is its alleged derivativeness.) She refers to "the spectacle of his near-canonization by a small but influential group of art-world impresarios who may or may not have been so genuinely ravished by his work that they are already hailing him as the greatest painter America ever produced." And she asks: "Why, if his supporters believed in him so thoroughly, was he not able during his lifetime to enjoy wider sales and financial support?" Aside from her--perhaps only half-meant--implication, that sales are a criterion of artistic merit, Miss Genauer assumes too readily that Gorky's admirers had the means to back their opinion by buying his work, when most of them, far from being "art world impresarios," were, and are, fellow-artists with as little money as himself. As a journalist, if not as a critic, Miss Genauer owed it to her newspaper to ascertain the facts before venturing to impugn the good faith of any one, whether she named names or not. [margin- Par. 3 (deleted in letter to N.Y.H.T.] Perhaps this letter would not be justified if Gorky alone were involved. His work can stand unsupported by polemics or letters to editors. But Miss Genauer has manifested a consistent tendency to judge artists according to the quarters in which they are admired and the galleries that show them. This puts into question her own sincerity. In so far as she functions on the art page of one of the most influential and respected newspapers in the country, her substitution of personal and non-aesthetic emotion for critical honesty may affect public opinion by imposing irrelevant prejudice to the detriment of art upon it. [margin- Par. 4 (deleted in letter to N.Y.H.T.] Although it is not our intention here to argue about Miss Genauer's competence as an art critic in and of itself, one has reason to feel grave doubts about that, too, in view of the way in which she dismissed the exhibition sent over
Please note that the language and terminology used in this collection reflects the context and culture of the time of its creation, and may include culturally sensitive information. As an historical document, its contents may be at odds with contemporary views and terminology. The information within this collection does not reflect the views of the Smithsonian Institution, but is available in its original form to facilitate research. For questions or comments regarding sensitive content, access, and use related to this collection, please contact email@example.com.