Before the holiday season set in, we looked at the unlikely emergence of Glenn Beck as an art critic or art historian during a segment on his show on Fox. He purported to expose fascist and communist symbols that were hiding "in plain sight" on public art installations, particularly on the property of business rival NBC (no conflict of interest there). Since Beck decided to venture into the territory of art critics, many critics decided that Beck's flawed interpretations needed a response.
The next day the vigilant art blogger Tyler Green of Modern Art Notes, was among the first to note Beck's unlikely "debut as Fox News art critic." Green went on to deflate Beck's interpretation of "hidden" imagery by providing more art historical information about the symbols used within the artwork.
Another one of the first art critics to respond was Jerry Saltz, the respected critic for New York magazine.
Saltz challenged Beck to curate two art exhibitions in New York City,
one of art that "exists in New York City" that Beck would like to see
demolished (seeming to echo my issue with Beck's presentation of a destroyed Diego
Rivera mural), the second exhibition would be of contemporary art that Beck
approves of. Saltz generously offered to secure a "first-rate New York
venue" for each one. Click here to read Saltz's offer to Beck.
Christopher Knight, the art critic for the Los Angeles Times, also posted a blog article about Beck's tirade. In his article, Knight compared Beck to a little-known L.A. councilman Harold Harby who was convinced that abstract art contained secret communist messages.
Though not a critic, MSNBC pundit Keith Olbermann also weighed in on Glenn Beck as might be expected from the rival news organization. Unfortunately, Olbermann's response is the weakest mainly because he dissolves into sputtering about a sculpture that Beck misspoke about, saying the figure was holding "a bag of weed" rather than wheat. Olbermann seemed fixated on this point.
A few days later, LA Times critic, Christopher Knight bested Glenn Beck at his own game. On 9/12/09, Glenn Beck reported live from his "Taxpayer's March" in Washington D.C. Christopher Knight savvily pointed out that Beck's design for the protest unironically cribbed the very same kind of socialist designs that Beck had "exposed" earlier. From Knight's article:
I always enjoy seeing art education make its way into the mainstream, but Glenn Beck's program is not the way to do it. At least there are professional art critics who were willing to add some balance to Beck's incomplete lesson.
While I would like to say this is the end of Beck's career as Fox News art critic, I can only hope that he will take Jerry Saltz up on his offer to curate two exhibitions in New York City. That would be worth the trip.