San Francisco Chronicle Art Critic Kenneth Baker vs. Teh Internets

Oh mercy! San Francisco Chronicle Art Critic Kenneth Baker’s “empty virtuosity” review of “Chihuly at the de Young” sparked a bit of a controversy. So much so, that Ken is back for another go with “Unfavorable ‘Chihuly’ review sparks emotions.”

1.Ken makes it abundantly clear he feels “Chihuly’s baubles” do not merit a major museum show, but of course that didn’t stop him from checking out the exhibit. Here’s what he says about a reader who feels exactly the same way:

“One sensible reader found a middle path: He agreed with me that Chihuly’s baubles do not merit a major museum show, but found it useful to figure out for himself why, through firsthand experience.”

So, if you agree with Baker 100%, he’ll label you a “sensible” reader. O.K., fine. Does Mr. Baker really not want you to see this show? Not even for free on Target Weekend back when we had the chance? We should take our 15 bones and go see Saw IV instead? Really?

2. Comes now another Reader:

“Yet another, though she deplored my effort to discourage people from seeing the show, described how she came to see the emptiness of Chihuly’s work on her own – after three visits.”

People people people, now who told you to see this show three times? Everybody should see it once – how’s that for unsolicited advice? (Thankfully, Kenny Boy didn’t write, “You see, you philistine, I was right and you were wrong!”)

3. Remember KB’s “effort to discourage people from seeing the show” – forget all that: 

“As a practical matter, nothing I or any other critic can say will slow the juggernaut of Chihuly’s success. In all likelihood, as experience suggests, such a damning review will bring more people, not fewer, to the exhibition.”

Please don’t try to reconcile the quotes from above – it will just give you a headache.

4.But wait! Here, straight out of WTF-land, an attack on teh Internet bloggers. Apropos of nothing in particular, we get this: 

“Does the art public need critics, specialists, to help it sort these struggles out? Yes. It truly is a full-time job. Bloggers cannot – at any rate, do not – get it done.”

Daily delivery of the Chronicle’s dead tree editions (which isn’t going to last forever) is really the only thing keeping Ken from becoming a blogger. Would Ken make a good blogger? Sure, why not? Said Sally Field: “You like me, you really like me!”  Says Ken Baker: “You need me, you really need me!”

Could there be some people with views more nuanced than Ken’s? Like this one? At least one blogger cries foul. Another says Ken is “wrong about bloggers.” Uh oh.

You should check out the Chihuly show to see what all the fuss is about, right? To make that easier on you:

Extended Hours for Chihuly at the de Young. Beginning Saturday, August 2, Chihuly at the de Young will extend its weekend hours to accommodate the large crowds that have come to see the exhibition. An extra hour will be added on Saturdays and Sundays for the rest of the run of the exhibition, with the last ticket sold for 5:15 pm entry and the galleries open until 6:15.

Well, let’s end this strife. For your consideration:


Click to expand.

See you there!

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3 Responses to “San Francisco Chronicle Art Critic Kenneth Baker vs. Teh Internets”

  1. vanderleun says:

    You won’t see me there. I’ve seen quite enough of these gilded horse apples.

    It’s a scam. You should know that.

  2. sfcitizen says:

    All right, see you at Saw V.

  3. RK Bose says:

    Minimalism is finished; there’s not much space beyond zero. Rigor … well, eventually it’s limited by sheer geometry.

    I think Chihuly might be the Shakespeare of sculpture. When Will wrote, it was as entertainment, not Art.

    I looked in vain for something to agree with in Baker’s critique. I’ll be going back to the Chihuly. I didn’t do that for anything at MOMA, and much of the art I saw, while edifying at the time, hasn’t stayed with me.

    And I think his dig at Buchanan in the first paragraph of his review was an unwarranted insight into the factionalism of the art world.