Being an art critic is for the most part a low-paying job. It is particularly insecure if you do not have a position at a university. In the 1950s and ’60s, it was far worse than it is now. In an informative interview with the English poet and literary critic Mark Ford, Ashbery talked about the financial side of being an art critic living in Paris:
Jean Hache-Béret, a famous French poet Miss Guinevere Moxley, a pursed American poet Ambrosine Philpotts, a humorless Queer Theorist James Schuyler, himself Velma Handler, a powerful literary critic Pearl Indeterminate, a slightly less powerful literary critic, archrival of Handler First Café Waiter, an American PhD candidate writing about Jean Hache-Béret Second Café Waiter, a poet and graduate of the Iowa Writers Workshop who blatantly imitates Hache-Béret in his work
In Jasper Johns’s “Painting Bitten by a Man,” the artist has bitten a hunk out of his painting, leaving behind teeth marks. The action of the bite transforms into an image to be seen, an image that relates to nothing else on the field of gray encaustic. The bite conjures the presence of the artist at work and a flash of spleen. The gesture of the bite keeps receding back into its intrinsic muteness, suggesting the frustration of a desire to communicate verbally.
In the early 1990s, Phillip Foss and Charles Bernstein coedited a special double issue of Tyuonyi ostensibly addressing contemporary tendencies in late twentieth-century poetry. To do so, they distributed a short survey asking participants to address what they called “patterns, contexts and time,” shaping (sharpening?) a praxis of the present by investigating the social and political factors influencing (both positively and negatively) tendencies in contemporary writing.