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JOHN O'BRIEN


I've been among those observing the fragmented trajectory of contemporary visual art as it clears the 20th-Century with great interest, and am heartened by the diversity I see--and worried about the stark relational contrasts. Of the many vectors emerging, there are a few common threads--like the timeless uniqueness of the art experience and the fascinating nonsense of art expenditure--as energy or acquisition, for example. But there is at once large group of conflicting and fundamentally different paradigms that appear to be without any convergence in either ideal or practical terms. Today the role of an art writer, consequentially, must be that of a thoughtful and conscientious observer of the flux of all these trajectories. Writing intelligently about the wonder and complexity of all contemporary art (with a touch of skepticism to acknowledge one's own historical limits) is essential to understanding, delineating and deciphering the trends of the present. That is the only way to respect its sense of accruing critical mass given its current delicate state of imbalance.