Issue 35 February 2024

Issue 34 November 2023

Issue 33 August 2023

Issue 32 June 2023

Issue 31 February 2023

Issue 30 November 2022

Issue 29 August 2022

Issue 28 May 2022

Issue 27 February 2022

Issue 26 November 2021

Issue 25 August 2021

Issue 24 May 2021

Issue 23 February 2021

Issue 22 November 2020

Issue 21 August 2020

Issue 20 May 2020

Issue 19 February 2020

Letter from the Editor –Lindsay Preston Zappas
Parasites in Love –Travis Diehl
To Crush Absolute On Patrick Staff and
Destroying the Institution
–Jonathan Griffin
Victoria Fu:
Camera Obscured
–Cat Kron
Resurgence of Resistance How Pattern & Decoration's Popularity
Can Help Reshape the Canon
–Catherine Wagley
Trace, Place, Politics Julie Mehretu's Coded Abstractions
–Jessica Simmons
Exquisite L.A.: Featuring: Friedrich Kunath,
Tristan Unrau, and Nevine Mahmoud
–Claressinka Anderson & Joe Pugliese
Reviews April Street
at Vielmetter Los Angeles
–Aaron Horst

Chiraag Bhakta
at Human Resources
–Julie Weitz

Don’t Think: Tom, Joe
and Rick Potts

–Matt Stromberg

Sarah McMenimen
at Garden
–Michael Wright

The Medea Insurrection
at the Wende Museum
–Jennifer Remenchik

(L.A. in N.Y.)
Mike Kelley
at Hauser & Wirth
–Angella d’Avignon
Buy the Issue In our Online Shop

Issue 18 November 2019

Letter from the Editor –Lindsay Preston Zappas
The Briar and the Tar Nayland Blake at the ICA LA
and Matthew Marks Gallery
–Travis Diehl
Putting Aesthetics
to Hope
Tracking Photography’s Role
in Feminist Communities
– Catherine Wagley
Instagram STARtists
and Bad Painting
– Anna Elise Johnson
Interview with Jamillah James – Lindsay Preston Zappas
Working Artists Featuring Catherine Fairbanks,
Paul Pescador, and Rachel Mason
Text: Lindsay Preston Zappas
Photos: Jeff McLane
Reviews Children of the Sun
– Jessica Simmons

Derek Paul Jack Boyle
–Aaron Horst

Karl Holmqvist
at House of Gaga, Los Angeles
–Lee Purvey

Katja Seib
at Château Shatto
–Ashton Cooper

Jeanette Mundt
at Overduin & Co.
–Matt Stromberg
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Issue 17 August 2019

Letter From the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Green Chip David Hammons
at Hauser & Wirth
–Travis Diehl
Whatever Gets You
Through the Night
The Artists of Dilexi
and Wartime Trauma
–Jonathan Griffin
Generous Collectors How the Grinsteins
Supported Artists
–Catherine Wagley
Interview with
Donna Huanca
–Lindsy Preston Zappas
Working Artist Featuring Ragen Moss, Justen LeRoy,
and Bari Ziperstein
Text: Lindsay Preston Zappas
Photos: Jeff McLane
Reviews Sarah Lucas
at the Hammer Museum
–Yxta Maya Murray

George Herms and Terence Koh
at Morán Morán
–Matt Stromberg

Hannah Hur
at Bel Ami
–Michael Wright

Sebastian Hernandez
–Julie Weitz

(L.A. in N.Y.)
Alex Israel
at Greene Naftali
–Rosa Tyhurst

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Issue 16 May 2019

Trulee Hall's Untamed Magic Catherine Wagley
Ingredients for a Braver Art Scene Ceci Moss
I Shit on Your Graves Travis Diehl
Interview with Ruby Neri Jonathan Griffin
Carolee Schneemann and the Art of Saying Yes! Chelsea Beck
Exquisite L.A. Claressinka Anderson
Joe Pugliese
Reviews Ry Rocklen
at Honor Fraser
–Cat Kron

Rob Thom
at M+B
–Lindsay Preston Zappas

Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age
of Black Power, 1963-1983
at The Broad
–Matt Stromberg

Anna Sew Hoy & Diedrick Brackens
at Various Small Fires
–Aaron Horst

Julia Haft-Candell & Suzan Frecon
at Parrasch Heijnen
–Jessica Simmons

(L.A. in N.Y.)
Shahryar Nashat
at Swiss Institute
–Christie Hayden
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Issue 15 February 2019

Letter From the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Letter to the Editor
Men on Women
Geena Brown
Eyes Without a Voice
Julian Rosefeldt's Manifesto
Christina Catherine Martinez
Seven Minute Dream Machine
Jordan Wolfson's (Female figure)
Travis Diehl
Laughing in Private
Vanessa Place's Rape Jokes
Catherine Wagley
Interview with
Rosha Yaghmai
Laura Brown
Exquisite L.A.
Featuring: Patrick Martinez,
Ramiro Gomez, and John Valadez
Claressinka Anderson
Joe Pugliese
Reviews Outliers and American
Vanguard Art at LACMA
–Jonathan Griffin

Sperm Cult
–Matt Stromberg

Kahlil Joseph
–Jessica Simmons

Ingrid Luche
at Ghebaly Gallery
–Lindsay Preston Zappas

Matt Paweski
at Park View / Paul Soto
–John Zane Zappas

Trenton Doyle Hancock
at Shulamit Nazarian
–Colony Little

(L.A. in N.Y.)
Catherine Opie
at Lehmann Maupin
–Angella d'Avignon
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Issue 14 November 2018

Letter From the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Celeste Dupuy-Spencer and Figurative Religion Catherine Wagley
Lynch in Traffic Travis Diehl
The Remixed Symbology of Nina Chanel Abney Lindsay Preston Zappas
Interview with Kulapat Yantrasast Christie Hayden
Exquisite L.A.
Featuring: Sandra de la Loza, Gloria Galvez, and Steve Wong
Claressinka Anderson
Photos: Joe Pugliese
Reviews Raúl de Nieves
at Freedman Fitzpatrick
-Aaron Horst

Gertrud Parker
at Parker Gallery
-Ashton Cooper

Robert Yarber
at Nicodim Gallery
-Jonathan Griffin

Nikita Gale
at Commonwealth & Council
-Simone Krug

Lari Pittman
at Regen Projects
-Matt Stromberg

(L.A. in N.Y.)
Eckhaus Latta
at the Whitney Museum
of American Art
-Angella d'Avignon
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Issue 13 August 2018

Letter From the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Letter to the Editor Julie Weitz with Angella d'Avignon
Don't Make
Everything Boring
Catherine Wagley
The Collaborative Art
World of Norm Laich
Matt Stromberg
Oddly Satisfying Art Travis Diehl
Made in L.A. 2018 Reviews Claire de Dobay Rifelj
Jennifer Remenchik
Aaron Horst
Exquisite L.A.
Featuring: Anna Sew Hoy, Guadalupe Rosales, and Shizu Saldamando
Claressinka Anderson
Photos: Joe Pugliese
Reviews It's Snowing in LA
at AA|LA
–Matthew Lax

Fiona Conner
at the MAK Center
–Thomas Duncan

Show 2
at The Gallery @ Michael's
–Simone Krug

Deborah Roberts
at Luis De Jesus Los Angeles
–Ikechukwu Casmir Onyewuenyi

Mimi Lauter
at Blum & Poe
–Jessica Simmons

(L.A. in N.Y.)
Math Bass
at Mary Boone
–Ashton Cooper

(L.A. in N.Y.)
Condo New York
–Laura Brown
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Issue 12 May 2018

Poetic Energies and
Radical Celebrations:
Senga Nengudi and Maren Hassinger
Simone Krug
Interior States of the Art Travis Diehl
Perennial Bloom:
Florals in Feminism
and Across L.A.
Angella d'Avignon
The Mess We're In Catherine Wagley
Interview with Christina Quarles Ashton Cooper
Object Project
Featuring Suné Woods, Michelle Dizon,
and Yong Soon Min
Lindsay Preston Zappas
Photos: Jeff McLane
Reviews Meleko Mokgosi
at The Fowler Museum at UCLA
-Jessica Simmons

Chris Kraus
at Chateau Shatto
- Aaron Horst

Ben Sanders
at Ochi Projects
- Matt Stromberg

iris yirei hsu
at the Women's Center
for Creative Work
- Hana Cohn

Harald Szeemann
at the Getty Research Institute
- Olivian Cha

Ali Prosch
at Bed and Breakfast
- Jennifer Remenchik

Reena Spaulings
at Matthew Marks
- Thomas Duncan
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Issue 11 February 2018

Letter from the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Museum as Selfie Station Matt Stromberg
Accessible as Humanly as Possible Catherine Wagley
On Laura Owens on Laura Owens Travis Diehl
Interview with Puppies Puppies Jonathan Griffin
Object Project Lindsay Preston Zappas, Jeff McLane
Reviews Dulce Dientes
at Rainbow in Spanish
- Aaron Horst

Adrián Villas Rojas
at The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA
- Lindsay Preston Zappas

Nevine Mahmoud
at M+B
- Angella D'Avignon

Radical Women: Latin American Art, 1960- 1985
at the Hammer Museum
- Thomas Duncan

Hannah Greely and William T. Wiley
at Parker Gallery
- Keith J. Varadi

David Hockney
at The Metropolitan Museum of Art (L.A. in N.Y.)
- Ashton Cooper

Edgar Arceneaux
at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (L.A. in S.F.)
- Hana Cohn
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Issue 10 November 2017

Letter from the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Barely Living with Art:
The Labor of Domestic
Spaces in Los Angeles
Eli Diner
She Wanted Adventure:
Dwan, Butler, Mizuno, Copley
Catherine Wagley
The Languages of
All-Women Exhibitions
Lindsay Preston Zappas
L.A. Povera Travis Diehl
On Eclipses:
When Language
and Photography Fail
Jessica Simmons
Interview with
Hamza Walker
Julie Wietz
Object Project
Featuring: Rosha Yaghmai,
Dianna Molzan, and Patrick Jackson
Lindsay Preston Zappas
Photos by Jeff McLane
Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA
Regen Projects
Ibid Gallery
One National Gay & Lesbian Archives and MOCA PDC
The Mistake Room
Luis De Jesus Gallery
the University Art Gallery at CSULB
the Autry Museum
Reviews Cheyenne Julien
at Smart Objects

Paul Mpagi Sepuya
at team bungalow

Ravi Jackson
at Richard Telles

Tactility of Line
at Elevator Mondays

Trigger: Gender as a Tool as a Weapon
at the New Museum
(L.A. in N.Y.)
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Issue 9 August 2017

Letter from the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Women on the Plinth Catherine Wagley
Us & Them, Now & Then:
Reconstituting Group Material
Travis Diehl
The Offerings of EJ Hill
Ikechukwu Casmir Onyewuenyi
Interview with Jenni Sorkin Carmen Winant
Object Project
Featuring: Rebecca Morris,
Linda Stark, Alex Olson
Lindsay Preston Zappas
Photos by Jeff McClane
Reviews Mark Bradford
at the Venice Biennale

Broken Language
at Shulamit Nazarian

Artists of Color
at the Underground Museum

Anthony Lepore & Michael Henry Hayden
at Del Vaz Projects


Analia Saban at
Sprueth Magers
Letter to the Editor Lady Parts, Lady Arts
Buy the Issue In Our Online Shop

Issue 8 May 2017

Letter from the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Kanye Westworld Travis Diehl
@richardhawkins01 Thomas Duncan
Support Structures:
Alice Könitz and LAMOA
Catherine Wagley
Interview with
Penny Slinger
Eliza Swann
Exquisite L.A.
taisha paggett
Ashley Hunt
Young Chung
Intro by Claressinka Anderson
Portraits by Joe Pugliese
Reviews Alessandro Pessoli
at Marc Foxx

Jennie Jieun Lee
at The Pit

Trisha Baga
at 356 Mission

Jimmie Durham
at The Hammer

Parallel City
at Ms. Barbers

Jason Rhodes
at Hauser & Wirth
Letter to the Editor
Buy the Issue In Our Online Shop

Issue 7 February 2017

Letter from the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Catherine Wagley
Put on a Happy Face:
On Dynasty Handbag
Travis Diehl
The Limits of Animality:
Simone Forti at ISCP
(L.A. in N.Y.)
Ikechukwu Casmir Onyewuenyi
More Wound Than Ruin:
Evaluating the
"Human Condition"
Jessica Simmons
Exquisite L.A.
Brenna Youngblood
Todd Gray
Rafa Esparza
Intro by Claressinka Anderson
Portraits by Joe Pugliese
Reviews Creature
at The Broad

Sam Pulitzer & Peter Wachtler
at House of Gaga // Reena Spaulings Fine Art

Karl Haendel
at Susanne Vielmetter

Wolfgang Tillmans
at Regen Projects

at Chateau Shatto

The Rat Bastard Protective Association
at the Landing
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Issue 6 November 2016

Letter from the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Kenneth Tam
's Basement
Travis Diehl
The Female
Cool School
Catherine Wagley
The Rise
of the L.A.
Art Witch
Amanda Yates Garcia
Interview with
Mernet Larsen
Julie Weitz
Agnes Martin
Jessica Simmons
Exquisite L.A.
Analia Saban
Ry Rocklen
Sarah Cain
Intro by Claressinka Anderson
Portraits by Joe Pugliese
Made in L.A. 2016
at The Hammer Museum

Doug Aitken
at The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA

at Tif Sigfrids

Jean-Pascal Flavian and Mika Tajima
at Kayne Griffin Corcoran

Mark A. Rodruigez
at Park View

The Weeping Line
Organized by Alter Space
at Four Six One Nine
(S.F. in L.A.)
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Issue 5 August 2016

Letter form the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
at The Underground Museum
Catherine Wagley
The Art of Birth Carmen Winant
Escape from Bunker Hill
John Knight
Travis Diehl
Ed Boreal Speaks Benjamin Lord
Art Advice (from Men) Sarah Weber
Routine Pleasures
at the MAK Center
Jonathan Griffin
Exquisite L.A.
Fay Ray
John Baldessari
Claire Kennedy
Intro by Claressinka Anderson
Portraits by Joe Pugliese
Reviews Revolution in the Making
at Hauser Wirth & Schimmel

Carl Cheng
at Cherry and Martin

Joan Snyder
at Parrasch Heijnen Gallery

Elanor Antin
at Diane Rosenstein

Performing the Grid
at Ben Maltz Gallery
at Otis College of Art & Design

Laura Owens
at The Wattis Institute
(L.A. in S.F.)
Buy the Issue In Our Online Shop

Issue 4 May 2016

Letter from the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Moon, laub, and Love Catherine Wagley
Walk Artisanal Jonathan Griffin
Marva Marrow's
Inside the L.A. Artist
Anthony Pearson
Mystery Science Thater:
Diana Thater
Aaron Horst
Informal Feminisms Federica Bueti and Jan Verwoert
Marva Marrow Photographs
Lita Albuquerque
Interiors and Interiority:
Njideka Akunyili Crosby
Char Jansen
Reviews L.A. Art Fairs

Material Art Fair, Mexico City

Rain Room

Evan Holloway
at David Kordansky Gallery

Histories of a Vanishing Present: A Prologue
at The Mistake Room

Carter Mull
at fused space
(L.A. in S.F.)

Awol Erizku
at FLAG Art Foundation
(L.A. in N.Y.)
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Issue 3 February 2016

Letter from the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Le Louvre, Las Vegas Evan Moffitt
iPhones, Flesh,
and the Word:
at Arturo Bandini
Lindsay Preston Zappas
Women Talking About Barney Catherine Wagley
Lingua Ignota:
Faith Wilding
at The Armory Center
for the Arts
Benjamin Lord
A Conversation
with Amalia Ulman
Char Jansen
How We Practice Carmen Winant
Share Your Piece
of the Puzzle
Federica Bueti
Amanda Ross-Ho Photographs
Erik Frydenborg
Reviews Honeydew
at Michael Thibault

Fred Tomaselli
at California State University, Fullerton

Trisha Donnelly
at Matthew Marks Gallery

Bradford Kessler
Buy the Issue In Our Online Shop

Issue 2 November 2015

Letter from the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Hot Tears Carmen Winant
Slow View:
Molly Larkey
Anna Breininger and Kate Whitlock
Americanicity's Paintings:
Orion Martin
at Favorite Goods
Tracy Jeanne Rosenthal
Layers of Leimert Park Catherine Wagley
Junkspace Junk Food:
Parker Ito
at Kaldi, Smart Objects,
White Cube, and
Château Shatto
Evan Moffitt
Melrose Hustle Keith Vaughn
Max Maslansky Photographs
Monica Majoli
at the Tom of Finland Foundation
White Lee, Black Lee:
William Pope.L’s "Reenactor"
Travis Diehl
Dora Budor Interview Char Jensen
Reviews Mary Ried Kelley
at The Hammer Museum

Tongues Untied
at MOCA Pacific Design Center

No Joke
at Tanya Leighton
(L.A. in Berlin)
Snap Reviews Martin Basher at Anat Ebgi
Body Parts I-V at ASHES ASHES
Eve Fowler at Mier Gallery
Matt Siegle at Park View
Buy the Issue In Our Online Shop

Issue 1 August 2015

Letter from the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Metaphysical L.A.
Travis Diehl
Art for Art’s Sake:
L.A. in the 1990s
Anthony Pearson
A Dialogue in Two
Synchronous Atmospheres
Erik Morse
with Alexandra Grant
at François Ghebaly
Jonathan Griffin
#studio #visit
with #devin #kenny
Mateo Tannatt
Jibade-Khalil Huffman
Slow View:
Discussion on One Work
Anna Breininger
with Julian Rogers
Reviews Pierre Huyghe

Mernet Larsen
at Various Small Fires

John Currin
at Gagosian, Beverly Hills

Pat O'Niell
at Cherry and Martin

A New Rhythm
at Park View

Unwatchable Scenes and
Other Unreliable Images...
at Public Fiction

Charles Gaines
at The Hammer Museum

Henry Taylor
at Blum & Poe/ Untitled
(L.A. in N.Y.)
Buy the Issue In Our Online Shop
1301 PE
Anat Ebgi (La Cienega)
Anat Ebgi (Wilshire)
Arcana Books
Artbook @ Hauser & Wirth
Babst Gallery
Baert Gallery
Bel Ami
Canary Test
Carlye Packer
Charlie James Gallery
Château Shatto
Chris Sharp Gallery
Cirrus Gallery
Clay ca
Commonwealth & Council
Craft Contemporary
D2 Art (Inglewood)
D2 Art (Westwood)
David Kordansky Gallery
David Zwirner
Diane Rosenstein
François Ghebaly
Gana Art Los Angeles
George Billis Gallery
Giovanni's Room
Hamzianpour & Kia
Hannah Hoffman Gallery
Harper's Gallery
Hashimoto Contemporary
Heavy Manners Library
Helen J Gallery
Human Resources
Hunter Shaw Fine Art
in lieu
LaPau Gallery
Lisson Gallery
Lowell Ryan Projects
Luis De Jesus Los Angeles
MAK Center for Art and Architecture
Make Room Los Angeles
Matter Studio Gallery
Matthew Brown Los Angeles
MOCA Grand Avenue
Monte Vista Projects
Morán Morán
Moskowitz Bayse
Nazarian / Curcio
Night Gallery
Nino Mier Gallery
NOON Projects
O-Town House
One Trick Pony
Paradise Framing
Park View / Paul Soto
Patricia Sweetow Gallery
Regen Projects
Reparations Club
r d f a
REDCAT (Roy and Edna Disney CalArts Theater)
Roberts Projects
Royale Projects
Sean Kelly
Sebastian Gladstone
Shoshana Wayne Gallery
Smart Objects
Steve Turner
Stroll Garden
Tanya Bonakdar Gallery
The Box
The Fulcrum
The Hole
The Landing
The Poetic Research Bureau
The Wende Museum
Thinkspace Projects
Tierra del Sol Gallery
Tiger Strikes Astroid
Tomorrow Today
Track 16
Tyler Park Presents
USC Fisher Museum of Art
UTA Artist Space
Various Small Fires
Village Well Books & Coffee
Outside L.A.
Libraries/ Collections
Baltimore Museum of Art (Baltimore, MD)
Bard College, CCS Library (Annandale-on-Hudson, NY)
Charlotte Street Foundation (Kansas City, MO)
Cranbrook Academy of Art (Bloomfield Hills, MI)
Getty Research Institute (Los Angeles, CA)
Los Angeles Contemporary Archive (Los Angeles, CA)
Los Angeles County Museum of Art (Los Angeles, CA)
Maryland Institute College of Art (Baltimore, MD)
Midway Contemporary Art (Minneapolis, MN)
Museum of Contemporary Art (Los Angeles, CA)
NYS College of Ceramics at Alfred University (Alfred, NY)
Pepperdine University (Malibu, CA)
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (San Francisco, CA)
School of the Art Institute of Chicago (Chicago, IL)
The Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York, NY)
University of California Irvine, Langston IMCA (Irvine, CA)
University of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia, PA)
Walker Art Center (Minneapolis, MN)
Whitney Museum of American Art (New York, NY)
Yale University Library (New Haven, CT)

Where is Our Reckoning?

Leer en Español

Mock Bon Appétit cover by Joe Rosenthal (@joe_rosenthal).

For weeks, I have been preoccupied with the brilliantly crafted tweets of freelance food and wine writer Tammie Teclemariam, who has been fueling, supporting, and live-tweeting reckonings in food media since early June. Her early grand slam, tweeted alongside a 2004 photo of now-former Bon Appétit editor-in-chief Adam Rapoport in brown face (two anonymous sources sent her the photo, which the editor allegedly kept on his desk),1 read: “I don’t know why Adam Rapoport doesn’t just write about Puerto Rican food for @bonappetit himself!!!”2 Hours later, Rapaport—who, according multiple accounts, nurtured a toxic, discriminatory culture at the publication—had resigned. But perhaps my favorite tweet came after Teclemariam’s tweets contributed to the resignation of Los Angeles Times food section editor Peter Meehan: “I’m so glad the real journalism can start now that everyone is running their mouth.”3 In its glib concision, her tweet underscored the ideal aim of many recent so-called media call-outs: to expose, and hopefully excise, a toxicity that narrows, stifles, and handicaps writing about culture—the importance of which has been underscored by the ongoing uprisings against violent systemic racism.

Not everyone appreciates that tweets like Teclemariam’s have sway. As I write this, controversy and backlash are growing around what is now known as “The Letter.” Published by Harper’s Magazine, it was signed by luminaries such as Ian Buruma (who was forced to resign from the New York Review of Books after commissioning an essay from a disgraced radio host that disclosed his side of an alleged sexual assault4) and Bari Weiss (the former op-ed writer and editor at the New York Times, who alleged in her frustrated resignation letter that “Twitter has become [the Times’] ultimate editor”5). The Harper’s letter hoists responsibility on social media for a number of recent reckonings, bemoaning the current “calls for swift and severe retribution in response to perceived transgressions of speech and thought.”6 Mostly, the signatories seem worried about their own power to continue saying what they want in legacy media amidst these social media outlets—and about the rising influence of once underrecognized writers, who can now make the powerful fall with 280 characters. But many writers voice their frustrations that Twitter is used as a last resort. New York Times digital storytelling editor Jamal Jordan pointed this out, tweeting that: “For many black journalists, the only real editorial power we have is potentially embarrassing our institutions on Twitter.” He added, “Not at all a toxic setup.”7

In art media, my own niche field, there have been relatively few call-outs, even on social media (although the same cannot be said for museums). But we could use a reckoning of our own. In art, as with writing in most other cultural fields, the voices of BIPOC writers are not adequately supported often or widely enough. This results in an insidiously—often offensively—stifled mainstream discourse about art’s readings, effects, and possibilities. As has been pointed out often in recent months (and before), those of us who are white have a responsibility to hold our own field accountable for its often-unbearable and un-/under-addressed white privilege, especially if we also want a discourse that is lively, open, incisive, responsive, and informed by bases of knowledge as deep and wide as possible.

In May, just two days before George Floyd’s murder, which marked the start of still-ongoing anti-racist uprisings, the New York Times’ co-chief art critic Roberta Smith gave an Instagram Live talk with the Donald Judd Foundation. Near the end, she was asked about the writers who influence her. She acknowledged her debt to Judd himself, and said she regularly reads the works of longtime New Yorker art critic Peter Schjeldahl, as well as her husband of 28 years, New York Magazine art critic Jerry Saltz. I thought of the limits of such a small echo chamber of influential white critics after seeing prominent white male art writers attempt, in egregiously out-of-touch ways, to engage conversations of the moment—Jerry Saltz tweeted that he liked the writers of the Old Testament8 and the Egyptian Book of the Dead after a colleague prompted followers to comment with their favorite Black art writers and thinkers;9 another critic—who deleted his tweet shortly after posting it—compared time spent in front of Andy Warhol screen tests to the time George Floyd spent pinned beneath his killer’s knee. Both critics, I believe, consider themselves progressive, and on the right side of history—but as Saidiya Hartman pointed out in Scenes of Subjection: Terror, Slavery, and Self-Making in Nineteenth-Century America (1997), purportedly good intentions have a long history of re-inscribing subjugation10 (or as Ta-Nehisi Coates put it: “the problem with good intentions is that they don’t accept true responsibility”11).

In the weeks after George Floyd’s killing, mainstream art writers and critics—especially the small handful with full-time jobs that actually pay their bills—did not demonstrate much interest in responsibility. Or perhaps, they demonstrated how ill-equipped a rarified art world—which continues to indulge its own elitism while giving lip service towards politics of inclusion—is for meeting moments like this one. Philip Kennicott of the Washington Post tried for relevance with an essay on how we should leave the pedestals behind after Confederate monuments are toppled (“vacant plinths can mean anything”12). The New Yorker’s Schjeldahl wrote about Edward Hopper and solitude.13 Sebastian Smee, also of the Washington Post, contemplated artist Mark Bradford’s “heightened consciousness”—specifically the aerial views he takes of urban landscapes—and ended with the unhelpful thought that maybe even if we “try to relate to and converse with one another,” nothing will change.14 Smee and other white legacy media critics seemed to suggest that power dynamics may be too hard to change—and in doing so, they’ve refrained from implicating themselves in taking a role in shifting them.

White critics abdicating responsibility leaves the burden of advocating for change to fall mostly on people of color, as it often has before. In 2019, an essay by Elizabeth Méndez Berry and Chi-hui Yang, published in the New York Times’ op-ed (rather than arts) section, called for moving “away from anointing a talented two or three critics of color and toward kaleidoscopic ecosystems of ideas and taste.”15 They wrote, “We need a rigorous, rollicking culture coverage that’s uncoupled from class and credentials.”16 The wording—“rigorous, rollicking… kaleidoscopic”—was as energizing as it was exacting.

The 2019 Whitney Biennial was still up when Méndez Berry and Yang published their essay. The ensuing reviews (by mostly white writers) demonstrated a skepticism that in part reflected the reviewers’ own inability to relate to the broad range of perspectives and experiences that informed the artworks included. (Notably, the show included a majority BIPOC artists, unlike previous Whitney Biennials) At WNYC, Deborah Solomon called white supremacy a “tired academic slogan,” referring to a wall label accompanying artist Nicholas Galanin’s tapestry White Noise, American Prayer Rug (2018).17 The rug depicts static on a TV screen, which the artist has said is about “whiteness based on more than complexion” (e.g. “capitalism, blind belief,” and the protection of power).18 Galanin and other artists exhibited took to Instagram to challenge such reviews—what Galanin called “lazy assertions”19—that were founded in a misunderstanding of artists whose experiences and motivations were unfamiliar to the critics writing about them. “To be sure, people of color did review the [Biennial],” wrote Méndez Berry and Yang, but less visibly, creating “a dynamic shaped by the perception that the opinions of people of color are not universal.” For the writers, “this matters because culture is a battleground where some narratives win and others lose.”20 One critic, Aria Dean, who wrote about the show for X-TRA, pointed to this very battleground, calling the Biennial, and its attendant controversies, “an opportunity not only to proceed with a stronger sense of ethics in practice but also to reevaluate what it is that we want from art, and what it can give us.”21

Méndez Berry and Yang generously gave the critical establishment pointers to help it change. Among them: “mainstream and independent outlets must pay critics a living wage and reject business models that don’t”; BIPOC-run publications must receive venture and philanthropic capital; “old-school white critics ought to step aside” for the “writers of color who have been holding court in small publications and online for years.”22 The article has been oft-quoted, in part because too few other articles puncturing white critical dominance in art have received such prominent placement, before or since its publication. The authors meanwhile continue to enact the change they called for. Critical Minded, the initiative they helped found in 2017, aims to support critics of color financially and through mentorship, offering its first grant to help BIPOC writers during the pandemic. Critics Hua Hsu of the New Yorker and Jessica Lynne, the co-founder and editor of ARTS.BLACK—a publication of art criticism from Black perspectives—sit on the governance board.

Nicholas Galanin, White Noise, American Prayer Rug (installation view) (2018). Whitney Biennial 2019, May 17-September 22, 2019. Image courtesy of the artist and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. Photo: Ron Amstutz.

But, as the recent, out-of-touch writing by major (white) critics has demonstrated, little has visibly changed at prominent mainstream outlets. And while the most generative course of action is undoubtedly following Critical Minded’s lead and supporting the writers already doing the work needed to change the field, there is also value in pointing out the shortcomings of major platforms, whether that means naming their critical oversight or acknowledging our conditioned reliance upon their authority.

Take for instance, the decades-end article Roberta Smith penned for the New York Times in late 2019, called “A Sea Change in the Art World, Made by Black Creators.” In it, she highlighted her own “life-changing realization” that “many artists” should not exhibit everything they make.23 She learned this from the controversy surrounding Dana Schutz’s painting of Emmett Till, included in the 2017 Whitney Biennial and contested for turning Black death into spectacle. Smith credited artist and writer Hannah Black’s open letter with starting the controversy, writing that she was “grateful for the extremeness of [Black’s] stance” even if she did not wholly “agree.”24 By framing Black as the sole, “extreme” instigator, she reduced the collective power of a conversation that Black had, in fact, entered with many others. Smith’s gratefulness thus read as indirect condescension, as if the controversy’s value was in widening (white) people’s horizons—not an uncommon perspective. (Consider an anecdote from Kimberly Drew’s concise, compelling new book, This is What I Know About Art, in which a college art history class discussion on artist Coco Fusco devolves into a white guilt confessional, rather than a thoughtful exploration of Fusco’s work. Later, Drew’s professor tells her she shouldn’t have taken art history if she wanted to be in conversation with other students of color.25)

Others, especially non-white critics, who wrote about the Dana Schutz controversy have treated it differently. In her book Whitewalling: Art, Race & Protest in 3 Acts (2018), Aruna D’Souza acknowledges that Black’s letter “was just one of many interventions and statements,” quoting numerous others made on social media. D’Souza also framed the protests as not over who can show what (i.e., whether Schutz had a right to represent Till’s murdered body), but over “the curatorial decisions that gave [Schutz] a platform, while denying others the same opportunity.”26 Similarly, in his Artforum review of the 2017 Biennial, Tobi Haslett framed the failures as a curatorial obsession with topicality for its own sake, which resulted in “an inevitably flailing exhibition, a massive, splashing sea broken in places by reefs of good work.”27 He gave most space to this “good work,” like that of Deanna Lawson and Henry Taylor, relegating discussion of Schutz’s painting to a quick sentence at the end.

The question of who and what receives attention came up in coverage of artist Dread Scott’s Slave Rebellion Reenactment in November 2019—the performance was a reimagining of the German Coast Uprising of 1811 outside New Orleans. Two Guardian reporters followed the reenactors, live-tweeting and updating articles as the two-day performance progressed. Their reporting was fine on the surface, but in its celebratory approach to a performance about a history of racism, it failed to question assumptions (an “untold story,” as one Guardian subhead called the uprising, disregarding those who had known the story for generations). In an essay for Burnaway, as part of the publication’s series of reflections by Black writers on Scott’s Reenactment, editor-at-large Kristina Kay Robinson noted the imbalanced fixation of one Guardian journalist on the sole instance of white death portrayed. The journalist interviewed the white actor, playing a plantation owner, about his family lore and feelings. Watching this fixation on this man’s good intentions and desire for redemption led Robinson to question the intentional omission of Black death from the performance:

So while the performance avoided unnecessary depictions of the brutal deaths of Black people, another kind of violence was invented. I wondered, as I followed the coverage of the reenactment, for whose benefit and comfort had the violence visited upon us actually been omitted?28

Robinson also challenged the notion that the uprising’s history had been unknown or untold. Her grandmother was born in Reserve, Louisiana, the site of the former Belle Point Plantation, where many of the uprising’s participants were enslaved. Belle Point Plantation later became home to a rubber plant that has poisoned residents of the surrounding area (the cancer rate is nearly 50 times the national average). Unlike many journalists, Robinson considered the Reenactment in relation to the ongoing effects of violence in the same geography.

The whiteness of mainstream art media results in whitewashed conversations—not just when it comes to writing about BIPOC artists, though the whitewashing is often most apparent in these instances. This must change, but as we push for this change, we also need to shift attention and resources toward those already writing criticism outside the field’s exclusionary hierarchies and oriented toward a more horizontal critical future. Jessica Lynne called for a kind of “horizontally” oriented space in her recent, eloquently searching essay, “Criticism is Not Static: A black feminist perspective,” asking, “What does criticism look like when we reject the myth that it can only manifest itself in certain ways?”29 The future of art writing is best served by questioning its stasis—a top-down critical hierarchy, where the embedded few are given ample visibility, while others try to exert their power in the limited space of a tweet. And if we want to engage in more expansive, inquisitive, and thus representative conversations around art, we need to look to those already imagining and realizing a more horizontal and reciprocal form of criticism, where platforms not only welcome, but seek out and give space to a rollicking discourse.

This essay was originally published in Carla issue 21.

Dread Scott, Slave Rebellion Reenactment performance still 1 (2019). Image courtesy of the artist. Photo: Soul Brother.

Dread Scott, Slave Rebellion Reenactment performance still 2 (2019). Image courtesy of the artist. Photo: Soul Brother.

  1. James Hansen, “Interview with Tammie Teclemariam,” Indigestion, June 24, 2020,
  2. Tammie Teclemariam (@tammieetc), June 8, 2020, Food writer Ilyana Maisonet had previously posted dismissive DMs she’d received from Rapaport, regarding her ideas about Puerto Rican food.
  3. Tammie Teclemariam (@tammieetc), July 8, 2020,
  4. Cara Buckley, “New York Review of Books Editor Is Out Amid Uproar Over #MeToo Essay,” The New York Times, Sept. 19, 2018,
  5. Bari Weiss, “Resignation Letter,” July 14, 2020,
  6. “A Letter on Social Justice and Open Debate,” Harper’s Magazine, July 7, 2020,
  7. Jamal Jordan (@lostblackboy), “For many black journalists, the only real editorial power we have is potentially embarrassing our institutions on Twitter,” Twitter, July 6, 2020, 4:44 a.m., .
  8. Jerry Saltz (@jerrysaltz), “The poets who wrote the Old Testament,” Twitter, June 3, 2020, 10:00 a.m.,
  9. Jerry Saltz (@jerrysaltz), “The writers of the Egyptian Book of the Dead,” Twitter, June 3, 2020, 12:24 p.m.,
  10. Saidiya Hartman, Scenes of Subjection (New York: Oxford University Press, 1997), 22.
  11. Ta-Nehisi Coates, Between the World and Me (New York: Spiegel & Grau, 2015).
  12. Philip Kennicott, “What to do when the Confederate statues come down? Leave the pedestals empty,” The Washington Post, June 16, 2020,
  13. Peter Schjeldahl, “Edward Hopper and American Solitude,” The New Yorker, June 1, 2020,
  14. Sebastian Smee, “Mark Bradford’s art sees all the broken places that led to this moment of protest,” The Washington Post, June 9, 2020,
  15. Elizabeth Méndez Berry and Chi-hui Yang, “The Dominance of the White Male Critic,” The New York Times, July 5, 2019,
  16. Ibid.
  17. Deborah Solomon, “Review: The Whitey Biennial Cops Out,” WNYC, May 17, 2019,
  18. Nicholas Galanin quoted in “Sanctuary,” For-Site Foundation, accessed July 27, 2020,
  19. Nicholas Galanin (@nicholasgalanin), “Lazy assertion, all of this review is trash Deborah…,” Instagram photo, May 17, 2019,
  20. Méndez Berry and Yang.
  21. Aria Dean, “On Progress, or the speed at which a square wheel turns,” X-TRA, August 8, 2019,
  22. Méndez Berry and Yang.
  23. Roberta Smith, “A Sea Change in the Art World, Made by Black Creators,” The New York Times, November 24, 2019,
  24. Ibid.
  25. Kimberly Drew, This is What I Know about Art (New York: Penguin Random House, 2020).
  26. Aruna D’Souza, Whitewalling: Art, Race & Protest in 3 Acts (New York: Badlands Unlimited, 2018).
  27. Tobi Haslett, Artforum, May 2017,
  28. Kristina Kay Robinson, “Letter from New Orleans: Down River Road,” Burnaway, February 18, 2020,
  29. Jessica Lynne, “Criticism is Not Static: A black feminist perspective,” In Other Words, August 29, 2019,

Catherine Wagley writes about art and visual culture in Los Angeles.

More by Catherine Wagley