Robert Hughes, Giant

Why the late writer was our most important art critic

Had a few thoughts on Baudrillard
Random House Books/Australia
Had a few thoughts on Baudrillard

Hughes at his best was an Orwell-like figure, a writer inflamed by brilliance and opinion to communicate his enthusiasms and aversions as he saw them (he championed, among others, Gerhard Richter and Bruce Nauman, while dubbing Damien Hirst "a pirate" who manufactured "vicarious spectacle for money groupies"). But he could also turn churlish and, more damagingly, inattentive. Arguably, Hughes checked out critically following his near-fatal car crash in Australia in 1999, and after he stopped contributing regularly to Time around 2002. Fame and age blunted his judgment, which eventually decanted toward classic painting, sculpture, and motorcycles, and away from the art of today. Yet, as Pauline Kael said, people read critics for their insights, not for their judgments. To this I would add style's moral moxie. No better sentence-builder has ever graced this bastard discipline, and I doubt anyone as good will again.

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