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Words that think for us: Art by any other name

There’s a deadening logic to the anti-language of art criticism

By Edward Skidelsky   October 2010

The language of art criticism has long been a byword for preciosity and pretention. Part of the problem lies in the nature of the task: how can an experience of light and colour be translated into words? The very attempt seems bound to produce large volumes of gibberish, as well as the odd flight of poetry. But it does not help that most writers on modern art are steeped in continental philosophy, whose obscurity they mistake for depth. The result is a kind of linguistic knickerbocker glory, with words chosen more for assonance than meaning. “In voicing the void, Kapoor…

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