(Where is the) art critic (now)

By | 15 September 2022

What I like to think of is the humidity, and the bumps, the horns; swash of trousers, heeled footsteps, breath of doorways . . . tumblers roll and clunk, eyelids snap, chair legs tap and scrape, shifty as a toey horse. I
like / love, the idea of / the bristling critic — grey brown black

purple checkered man woman with thin electric hair, with many more than two arms to wield: pencils, set squares, folding wooden rulers, bleeding pens, yes cigarettes, rolled newspapers, maltreated specs, and cuvée glasses; leaning and peering pink-nosed and nutting out — with intent — writing Miss. Martin. so sharply it penetrates the table-top. You acorn says Agnes of Mister Judd, near to one year later (1963) stepping back from a 6 x 6 to dry soft ruddy hands on a paint rag.

There seems to have been a kind of intimate staging — sweet comedy of the conspicuously furtive: artist to one side of the lift, critic on the other . . . w h i s p e r s . . . transmitted atop black umbrellas, left at the thresholds of florists; knowing or curious glares that crossed streets and packed establishments like animated diagrammatics of zodiac constellations. Now

there is so much air

no court, no ring, no scratchy field or is there / are there / somewhere: snips of little columns, short acts (lunge, parry, bow)? The realm (((                                        ))) seems languid, shoeless. Where are the ground-dwellers?


I’ve called to mind the drawing on page 87 of ‘Daddy-Long-Legs’ by Jean Webster (Signet Classic’s edition, brown as clay), which depicts a neat scene: Judy serving tea to one sparrow or finch, one stooping squirrel and one large ‘Mrs Centipede’.

Please, this is how I’d like my critic: civil creeper, scrabbler.


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