‘The Critic as Artist’

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Miles Aldridge, 'Like a Painting #1', Chromogenic print, 15 x 20 inches (38.1 x 50.66 cm), 2005. Edition of 10 + 2 AP’s HC (Hors Commerce)
Linder, 'Johnny Ray', Collage, 2017.
Donna Huddleston, 'Oscar and Nico', Pencil on paper, 2017.
Photo: Stuart Whipps
Photo: Stuart Whipps
Photo: Stuart Whipps
Photo: Stuart Whipps
Reading and Writing No. 1, Wall drawing, 2017 (Photo: Stuart Whipps)hoto: Stuart Whipps
Katharina Wulff (Photo: Stuart Whipps)
Photo: Stuart Whipps
Gareth Jones, Untitled Structure poster, 2012
Alessandro Raho, Catherine, Oil on canvas, 2008
Cally Spooner, Early Research: method #7, Three-dimentional print, 2017
Cally Spooner (Photo: Stuart Whipps)
Cally Spooner (Photo: Stuart Whipps)
Travis Jeppesen (Photo: Stuart Whipps)
Travis Jeppesen (Photo: Stuart Whipps)
Travis Jeppesen
Bertie Marshall (Photo: Stuart Whipps)
Bertie Marshall (Photo: Stuart Whipps)
Scott King
Scott King
Marc Camille Chaimovicz
Donna Huddleston
Donna Huddleston
Alessandro Raho
Kaye Donachie
Scott King
Cally Spooner

‘The Critic as Artist’
curated by Michael Bracewell and Andrew Hunt

Reading Museum, Blagrave Street, Reading RG1 1QH, United Kingdom

Opening: Saturday 7 October 2017
Exhibition runs: 7 October 2017 to 27 January 2018

Including work by Miles Aldridge, Stephen Buckley, Marc Camille Chaimowicz, Lucienne Cole, Dexter Dalwood, Kaye Donachie, Donna Huddleston, Travis Jeppesen, Gareth Jones, Scott King, Linder, Bertie Marshall, Malcolm Mclaren, Katrina Palmer, Alessandro Raho, Simeon Solomon, Cally Spooner, and Katharina Wulff.

‘The Critic as Artist’ is an exhibition at Reading Museum about and for the Irish writer and dramatist Oscar Wilde, who had been a visitor to Reading prior to his imprisonment at Reading Gaol, and whose ideas and legend remain startlingly contemporary.

Appropriately, the museum in Reading is housed in a building partially designed by Waterhouse which opened in 1883, the year Wilde set sail to ‘declare his genius’ to America. Rather than focus on Wilde’s sensational and tragic downfall, as is too often the case, ‘The Critic as Artist’ examines the author’s theories of aesthetics and art criticism, which advocated freedom from moral restraint and the limitations of society, as well as the creative ability of criticism to reach beyond the limitations of the work of art. These were and remain radical, integral to a developing idea of ‘the modern’ and above all joyously balanced between seriousness, ironic play, provocation, poetry and paradox.

With this in mind, the exhibition is titled after Wilde’s celebrated essay of 1891, in which he lays out the central points of his aesthetic and art critical theories. Wilde subtitled his essay, ‘With some remarks upon the importance of doing nothing’ – championing indolence as necessary to artistic cultivation, and pose, repose and contemplation as elevated modes of existence – very much in the lineage of what Kierkegaard had previously defined as the ‘glittering inactivity’ of the aesthetic state.

Combining the historical and the contemporary, notions of the cult of the beautiful with the role of the critic, symbolist fantasy and the many-layered relationships between life, morality and art, ‘The Critic as Artist’ aims to combine substantial homage and renewed interpretation of Wildean aesthetic theory, while remaining very much in the spirit of his own serious play – the ‘new Hellenism’ of artistic ideas.

For further information and images, please contact Kirsten Cooke, Reading International Assistant Curator on kirsten@readinginternational.org / +44 (0)118 378 8050

 

Review of The Critic as Artist by Sylvia Prahl, tageszeitung Berlin, October 2107

Interview with Michael Bracewell by Julian Weber in taz Kultur December 2017