Tuesday, 4 July 2017

One of the Most Significant Blog Posts

"Dutch artist Jan Dibbets (1941) is one of the most distinguished and influential figures in the international art world."

"Jordan Wolfson (New York, 1980), one of the most outspoken representatives of a new generation of artists who explore the increasing digitalization of society and other technological developments."

"Isa Genzken has long been considered one of Germany’s most important and influential contemporary artists." 

Meaningless drivel. I unfortunately can't think of a more flattering description for any text that starts with the phrase 'Artist x is one of the y'. It's not that I find the idea of a hypothetical ranking futile, but rather that the way these imaginary rankings are constructed are hollow and insubstantial.
In every other field there are plenty of disputes about who is the best at something. Schumacher or Senna, Tupac or Biggie, Messi or Pelé. But even when those arguments venture into poorly defined or contrasting territory, they still tend to be supported by reasoning as to why some person would be considered the greatest.
This unfortunately does not hold true in writings on art. The claim that 'x is one of the y' is the entire justification. Hardly ever is there any further rationale or even a simple clarification of what tend to be the vaguest of terms. Because logically speaking, as long as you're not the absolute worst, you are one of the best by definition. The ever-present phrase is nothing more than politician-speak for 'I'm very likely wrong, so I'm going to cover myself against any future claims.'
It is obvious to everyone that it is nearly impossible to verify the truth value of these opinions on greatness, so I feel that if you do express them you should stand behind them. And if you don't, or can't, then one shouldn't express them at all.