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The art world is an ecosystem of artists, dealers, curators, critics and collectors, which–like the natural world—is seriously out of whack.     Robert Atkins

Perception requires involvement.      Antoni Muntadas

Art is the most complex form of knowledge, employing our left and right brains. That is, it simultaneously engages our soma and psyche, our senses and intellect. It is this involvement of all our apprehending faculties—our ways of taking in and making sense of the world—that accounts for its power, complexity and ambiguity.     Robert Atkins

To justify its existence, criticism should be partial, passionate and political, that is to say written from an exclusive point of view, but a point of view that opens up the widest horizons.   Charles Baudelaire

Bad political art is bad politics and bad art.     Robert Atkins


Public Eye: Art, Politics & Culture is a blog that casts its net wide–as I hope its title and credo (or statement of principles) in the form of the quotes above suggests. I’ve tracked and analyzed the convergence of art, politics and (visual) culture for more than three decades. My recent return to the San Francisco Bay Area means both a long-term perspective and a revisiting of my writing roots (and sometimes a lack of familiarity about current manners and goings on). I plan to address a spectrum of subjects from the visionary—artists, policy makers and citizens imaginatively pursuing social transformation—to the status quo, by which I mean the effects of technology, gentrification, diversity and (public) institutions on art and culture, both in the Bay Area and well beyond. In the twenty-first century, you hardly have to be in Berlin or Lesbos to ponder recent art making about Syrian refugees. Is there a better emblem of our information-enabled globalism than Pussy Riot, the subject of my  first blog post?

Indeed, the best indicator of my sensibility will be the topics of my first few posts over the next months. I’m considering such matters as broadcast funerals,  the task(s) of the SF Fine Arts Museums’ new director as debated by locals,  political art on view in Berlin and San Francisco, Facebook and the “culture of like”, and a valentine to Joshua Tree. If these subjects seem to represent a tangle of impossibly crossed purposes and interests, let me add one more—my desire for conversation. Art (and community) that matters has rarely existed in a discursive vacuum. I hope to encourage smart and spirited talk; the kind of nourishing exchanges that roll around in your head while you’re brushing your teeth before bed.

Please accept my invitation to join in.

Robert Atkins

March, 2016


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