8. Criticism

As with much of Bunn's theoretical work, there are also two aspects to his analysis of the role of the art critic and the idea of criticism. In the first place, both are, he admits an inescapable part of the art world and, indeed, of success in the art world. But where Bunn recognises this fact he also reserves his greatest scorn for the notion of the critic and time and time again in his writing and thought the idea of the critic occurs: and time and time again Bunn is, in turn, supremely antagonistic towards the notion. Here, in the Dix Semblaient Monts, Bunn makes reference to it once more, with a link to the classic fairy tale of 'The Emperors New Clothes'.  

It should be pointed out that Bunn is not suggesting, either here or elsewhere, that any artist (or indeed any person) is above criticism - both good and bad, positive and deconstructive - but, rather, he is against the notion that a critic (who is, after all, someone with a vested financial interest in doing what they do) ought to be able to tell others what is or is not good or great art. Art is not, Bunn argues, a concrete or given thing, but a wholly subjective media which allows - or would allow, were it not for the critic and the gallery - anyone to like or dislike any piece of art. (This rejection ties in very closely with Bunn's rejection of the notion of the gallery. And ought to be read as a continuation of that theme). Consequently, he argues, there is absolutely no "honest" scope for the role or opinions of the critic; critics exist merely in order to further alienate the public from the enjoyment and practice of art and do so in order to gain a free hand to further increase the prices of that which they choose to call 'great'. And, scandalously, this is done at the expense of the subject matter (ie. art) itself and fully condoned by the galleries.  

Of course, beyond this rejection is also the acknowledgement of the inescapable role played by the critic in the art world today insofar as their opinion affects an artists chance of public exposure. And in this respect Bunn also adverts the artist that the critic is something to be nurtured, fostered and yet, crucially, not taken seriously. As elsewhere, he warns, where this happens, the work is lost in any meaningful sense and merely becomes a marketable fashion item. Perhaps of great financial value today, but of no interest whatsoever to posterity. (Although he makes no mention of the likes of Damien Hirst, one cannot help but read that particular artists name into these comments).