What’s Wrong With Art? Tackling Race and Gender Equals Great Art

Tabish Khan loves art and visits hundreds of exhibitions a year. But every now and then he comes across something in the art world that doesn’t meet his approval.

kerry james marshall

Racial and gender equality are two very important issues. And it’s important that there are artists tackling these issues.

So what happens when artists take on this issue, unsurprisingly it’s usually women making art about gender equality and ethnic minority artists focussing on the issue of race.

So how do we judge this work? With difficulty seems to be the answer. The majority of art press, collectors and other influential people in the art world are white liberal males so they’re terrified of passing any sort of judgement that could be construed as negative.

But we need to recognise that art about an important issue can be terrible. This doesn’t in any way negate the importance of the issue the artwork is addressing. It’s a distinction many people fail to recognise. Big issues do not necessarily make for great art. Let’s not let political correctness get in the way of robust criticism.

For more in this series, see my thoughts on artist-curatorsart fair hypetop 5s and top 10sour political art is terriblegap left by Brian Sewellhow art never learned from the Simpsons, why artspeak won’t die, so-called reviews,bad reviews are bad for business, the $179m dollar headline, art fairs appealing to the masses, false opening hours, size matters and what’s wrong with video art.

Lead image is copyright Kerry James Marshall.

About Tabish Khan

Art Critic for both FAD and Londonist. See as many exhibitions as possible and write reviews, opinion pieces and a weekly top 5 for FAD.