20th Century and Contemporary, Books, Photography, Sculpture, Video

Honesty is Michael Fried’s Best Policy

You may have caught the mention in the letters to the editor from this past weekend’s issue of the New York Times Book Review, or perhaps you read the interview with FiveBooks on the “philosophical stakes of art”, but it is unmistakable that the voice of art critic Michael Fried permeates discussions of the art world; for YUP, it comes in his newest book, Four Honest Outlaws, in which he considers the works of contemporary artists: video artist and photographer Anri Sala, sculptor Charles Ray, painter Joseph Marioni, and video artist and intervener in movies Douglas Gordon.

In this new book, Fried shows how their respective projects are best understood as variously engaging with some of the core themes and issues associated with high modernism, and indeed with its prehistory in French painting and art criticism from Diderot on, continuing his exploration of the critical and philosophical territory opened up by his earlier book, Why Photography Matters as Art as Never Before. Drawing its title from a line in Bob Dylan’s “Absolutely Sweet Marie”, Four Honest Outlaws includes a DVD illustrating works by Sala and Gordon discussed in its pages and 70 color, and 9 black and white images of these four artists’ works, each of whom has found his own unsanctioned path to extraordinary accomplishment, in part by defying the ordinary norms and expectations of the contemporary art world. All this and “new heights”, as Fried himself wrote to the Times, of “the propensity for self-reference.”

Camera and university tenure sold separately.

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